Chinese Bacon

4.75 from 4 votes
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Slices of Chinese bacon on a cutting board
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

When I first saw this recipe for Chinese bacon in Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking, I knew I had to make it. I am fascinated by charcuterie that is outside the Western tradition. Most of us who do charcuterie stick to Italian or French or German traditions, and, less often, Spanish, Eastern European or, maybe, Middle Eastern cured meats.

China is a world unto itself, and, as Dunlop says, there are scores of bacon styles in that pork-loving country, each with its own mixture of spices and aromatic woods. This recipe is a riff off hers, although my method is considerably different.

You will need nitrite for this recipe, which you can buy online or in some good butcher shops. If you don’t use nitrites here, you will need to smoke the bacon at a much higher temperature, closer to 225°F than the 140°F I do. (If you are scared of nitrites, please do yourself a favor and read this excellent article on the fake “no nitrites” labeling.)

You will also need Sichuan peppercorns and Shaoxing wine to make this bacon, although a dry sherry is a fine substitute for the Chinese wine.

You really, really need to smoke this bacon. It’s OK unsmoked, but it takes on something magical when those Asian spices — cinnamon, cloves, star anise — mingle with wood smoke. You can smoke the pork as long or as little as you want, but please do your best to put this puppy in some sort of smoker.

What to serve it with? Anything, really. It’s awesome in braised dishes, like Chinese Red-Braised Pork, in stir-fry, with greens — or hell, just as sliced bacon in the morning with your eggs. It’s bacon, people. You’ll find something to do with it…

sichuan bacon recipe
4.75 from 4 votes

Sichuan Chinese Bacon

You can usually get big slabs of pork belly from local pork producers at your farmer's markets, or any decent butcher can order you one. You do need some curing salt No. 1 for this recipe, which you can buy online. Once made, this will keep about 2 weeks in the fridge, and indefinitely in the freezer. 
Course: Cured Meat
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 12
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes


  • 3 pounds pork belly, skin on or off
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 27 grams kosher salt, about 3 level tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, ground
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 5 star anise pods, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 grams Instacure No. 1, about a heaping 1/4 teaspoon


  • Moisten the pork belly with the Shaoxing wine. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and rub into the meat, making sure all surfaces are coated.
  • Put the pork into a large sealable plastic bag, or vacuum seal bag, or just a plastic or glass container just about large enough to contain it. Sprinkle over any remaining cure, seal the container up and put in the fridge.
  • Every day for 5 days, turn the bacon over. After 5 days, check to see if the bacon is firm. If it is not firm throughout, give it up to another 2 days in the fridge.
  • Take the bacon out, rinse off the cure and pat it dry. Set the bacon out on a rack to dry, preferably in a cool, airy place. Let it sit for 1-3 hours.
  • Smoke the bacon over the wood of your choice. I try to keep the smoker as cool as possible because you don't want to fully cook this bacon; less than 200 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. It is supposed to be very smoky, so go for at least 4 hours. Remove it from the smoker when it's as smoky as you like, then let it cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge or freezing it. 


This recipe makes about 3 pounds of bacon. 


Calories: 619kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 911mg | Potassium: 253mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 20IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. For what it is worth, if my bacon is a bit salty I will soak it in cold water for 20 minutes or so then test another piece. This reduces the saltiness for me.

  2. with salt I have learned to be careful with the salt I use only diamond crystal kosher salt but you can use mortons too but they are different volumes hence it can be undersalted or over . I try to weigh the salt if you do youwill see the difference and never use table salt iodized or plain

  3. It sounds like Kala may have used a different type of salt, 0.5 cups is very different if you are using table salt, kosher salt, sea salt etc. Which is why it’s always better to measure salt by weight to avoid the confusion.

  4. I did something wrong!!! It’s too salty. I’m sure I messed up someplace. The flavor is still so good, once I get past my over salting error. Any suggestions for cooking with it even though it’s too salty?

  5. Hi Hank, I am a new comer to making bacon and smoking it. I live in Thailand with access to cheap and very good pork bellies. I started to cure my own bacon about 4 months ago using a recipe off the net, I then started to add different things because my wife & I like spicy food. One of my favourites is, about 20 chopped up birds eye chillies, 10 minced cloves of garlic and 1/2 Tbs of molasses for each kilo of meat. I rub this on after the salt rub vacuum pack it and leave it in the refrigerator turning every 2 days for around 6 days.
    Rinse it and set it on a rack in the refrigerator over night to dry the surface. Then I smoke it in my reverse flow smoker using mango wood until I get 155/160 F internal temperature. The results so far have been fantastic with all or Thai friends and family asking me to do some for them. Anyway, now I want to try your recipe, will let you know how it turns out.

    Best regards Mike

    1. Elgar: You can, but I don’t always do it unless there is a lot of juice coming off the meat.

  6. @Hank

    The ‘Chinese bacon’ that Jeni refers to is probably ‘lap yuk’, cured dried pork belly. It often gets steamed or used with other slow cooking methods to reconstitute it, although some restaurants do have dishes that stir-fry it. I imagine they may have to soak it first as the original product is pretty darn dry.

  7. Mine’s been in the cure for about 5 days. I think it needs about one day more. Tasted it last night though and it’s really good. Also, I added about half an ounce of lapsang souchong tea to the cure.

  8. I recently found pork belly at Tara Firma Farm in Petaluma. Also, Bud’s Meats in Penngrove. Also ordered so e kurobota bellies on line, though I don’t remember the site off hand.

    Can’t wait to try this recipe. I have two teenagers who fancy themselves bacon experts.

  9. Having made Ruhlman’s and Polcyn’s bacon a bunch of times, this looks like a great next thing to try. Love the idea of the star anise. Thanks!

  10. Just started this last night cant wait to smoke it. I tried making some NM red Chile bacon a while back it was good but couldn’t get it spicy enough.

  11. Edwin: No, leave the skin on until you serve the bacon. It helps preserve it and it makes the bacon easier to smoke/cure/hang.