Aroma of Spring Festival in Lishui: smoked pork
Li Jianying hangs cured pork in her backyard. [Photo/WeChat account: wxlishui]
The year-end tradition of preserving meat remains very popular in the city of Lishui, in East China's Zhejiang province, where residents hang up strings of cured meat and sausage in their backyards to catch the wind and the rays of the winter sun.
At the break of each dawn, Li Jianying, a villager in Xiyuan village in Longquan – a county-level city administered by Lishui – gets to work in her kitchen. Her goal is to make some great smoked meat for the upcoming Spring Festival.
Fond memories about the smoked pork endure from Li's childhood and to recreate them, over the years she has experimented with the taste using various methods.
The pork she now chooses comes from the pigs raised for over a year and she picks the ones that are not too fat or not too lean.
"The salt and spices to cure the pork should be stir-fried first for a better flavor," said Li. "You've got to stir-fry the seasonings until they are pale yellow. Then rub the pork with the processed seasonings, coating it evenly."
Strings of pork are hung in Li's smoker. [Photo/WeChat account: wxlishui]
After a dozen days of curing and being sun-dried, the pork can then be smoked.
Li said that smoke is the way to keep the meat's fragrance. She usually uses cypress sticks, orange peel, rice, tea and other fragrant items to make smoke. The smoke slowly penetrates into the meat and remains there.
The smoked pork Li makes has excellent color, fragrance, taste and shape – only requiring simple cooking to release mouth-watering dishes.