Lard is liquid gold.
Seriously, lard is like butter in Chinese cooking. It makes everything that much tastier, especially vegetables. Here’s the secret: stir-frying vegetables (like bok choy) with lard is dangerously addictive, and if you happen to have a little bit of pork crackling left from lard-making——goddamnnnnit, you’ll be committing such a sinful crime called indulgence.
But if you’ve never associated lard with Chinese cooking, I don’t blame you. Lard is almost never seen at any grocery stores in China, because everyone makes lard him/herself. I grow up knowing how to make lard, and everyone around me seems to know that, too. We might make lard differently, but our love for lard is pure. #cheezy
One time I had this argument with my ex over the ways of making lard (#foodsnob). He said lard was made by simply rendering diced, raw pork fat in a wok under high heat. It wasn’t wrong, but for me it missed a key question: how could lard turn out so snowy white if all that happened was “burning” fat under heat? My experience (which I stand by) is that the pure white color comes from boiling fat first. By boiling, you expedite the rendering process, and the fat will be easily extracted without any “burning color” contamination.
The use for lard is ample in Chinese cooking. That sweet dumping dessert with black sesame paste filling you had the other day? Lard. Scallion pancakes? Lard. Noodle with soy sauce soup. Lard. Any type of traditional Chinese baked desserts? Lard.
Yes, life in China doesn’t need butter to be better. Lard is love.
P.S. There is a type of paper-boxed, solid, white-colored lard that’s available at some big grocery stores in the United States——that was for Mexican cooking.
I bought it once. It had no “lard” scent, and had a dangerously long shelf life that I dared not to consume any further.
I advice to try making lard yourself, it’s fun, and the pork crackling you’ll be left with will make the salad topping of your life.
How to Make Lard:
Pork fat (always available at Asian grocery stores)
1. Dice pork fat into small chunks.
2. Add diced pork into a wok or pot, add water (cover to the top of the pork would be enough). Bring it to a boil.
3. Add 2 slices of ginger, this helps remove any unpleasant smell from the pork fat.
4. Turn the heat to low, and stir occasionally. Water will evaporate and the fat will continue to render.
5. Turn off the heat when the fat is completely rendered (as shown in the image).
6. Drain the fat through a strainer. Store it in the fridge. It’ll keep fresh for up to 2 weeks.