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. Adele: I loved it cooked with dandelion greens and chile bean paste. Actually, I love it any which way.

    Carolyn: The Bradley ain’t cheap, but it is sturdy and works really well.

    Liam: Great! Let me know how your version of the bacon turns out!

    Michael: That sounds really good. Did you find this bacon in Thailand? If so, was it smoked?

    Jeni: No idea. Never bought Asian bacon.

  2. hi Hank,
    Thanks for the recipe. Is this similar to the “Asian bacon” that they sell in shrink-wrap packages? they are often odd gnarled pieces and doesn’t have good fat distribution (big pieces of each).

    can’t wait to try these out. These looks great, stir fried over some leeks we got in the garden. yum!!

  3. Sounds incredible. Just got back from a trip to Thailand where I got a chance to learn about the cuisine before the introduction of chili peppers. It was heavily influenced by peppercorns (I’m guessing Sichuan may have a similar history).

    With a couple of minor alterations you could probably make a Thai inspired bacon based on this recipe:
    Substitute green peppercorns for the Sichuan peppercorns
    Palm sugar for brown sugar
    Pandan/screwpine and coriander seed for the cinnamon, clove & anise mixture. Maybe even a little turmeric but not too match.

    Unfortunately I’m a carnivore living in a vegetarian household so I can’t experiment myself. Maybe someone out there has done something similar and can tell me how it came out?

  4. Hank,
    I have a 3kg pork belly that I was about to turn into my usual smoked bacon, when I came across your site. Mate this recipe is right up my street and I am now going to use your recipe. Living in Australia I do not have a problem buying any cuts of pork and usually buy quite a bit when it is on sale, for making sausages and bacon etc, however your comments on the asian butchers is quite correct they seem to use much bigger animals giving large thick belles which are just perfect for bacon
    love your site this is my first visit but it will not be my last, thanks once again

  5. Thanks, Hank. I’ll check out the Bradley. My smoker was a wedding present–and while I appreciated the thought, it’s not the one I would have chosen–so an upgrade is very appealing. Cheers.

  6. These people have the Sichuan pepper and Xio Xing wine at very reasonable prices.

    Wing Hop Fung (They sell over the internet.)
    727 N. Broadway Suite #102
    Los Angeles, CA 90012
    Store Hours: 9 a.m – 6 p.m.
    Open 7 days a week
    Tel: (213) 626-7200

  7. My grandmother just gave me a small slab of this stuff! She has a friend from Sichuan whose family still raises their own pigs, and they make this bacon every year. My grandmother adds it to soup, but I like it cooked with greens and tossed with pasta.

  8. Kim: What I would do is cure it without the nitrites and then smoke-roast it, getting your smoker up to abnout 250-275 degrees. It will be a very different product — more like slow roasted pork belly than bacon — but it will be a) safe to eat, and b) very tasty. If you cure it without nitrites and then freeze it, it will be fine, but not smoky.

  9. I’m sure I could at fatted calf, but like Carolyn said “at a premium”. Question is how much of a markup will it have. Thanks for all the info yall. It gives me avenues follow.

  10. I can’t use nitrates because I react badly to them. What about making this then freezing the final product?

  11. Jeff: Saw that one, too. Maybe that’ll be next time.

    Rachel: Let me know how it turns out!

    Victor: Like Carolyn said, I would be shocked if you could not order some from The Fatted Calf. If you want to drive, contact John Bledsoe, a Yolo hog farmer, and he can have some ready for you at the Davis Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

    Jenn: The wine is just to dampen the meat. You won’t have much left after you moisten the belly with it.

    Carolyn: I have a Bradley smoker that will keep very low temps. Just keep your smoker cool-ish. You really want 200 degrees or lower so you don’t start rendering the fat in the bacon. Don’t sweat it if the temp gets to 225 degrees, though.

    Cork: Dude, you have shot boars with bellies fat enough for bacon?

  12. Great post and awesome recipe.

    I just recently made a similar recipe ( I added Chinese hot and numb powder) and it turned out fantastic.

    I just recently found your blog and l love it.

    All the best,


  13. I was raised on this as an expat kid in Singapore and Saigon–can’t wait to try your recipe with a fresh wild boar belly, Hank!

  14. @Victor, pretty much every Asian market carries uncured belly. Ranch 99 in El Cerrito definitely does. If you want something a little more special, try Bledsoe pork at the Davis farmer’s market on Saturdays (Sacramento on Sundays). Fatted Calf ( could also supply, at a premium.

    Hank, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of making this bacon–and then using it for some Hmong-style veg+meat dishes–but am thinking holding a smoker at 140 for that long sounds difficult. (I’m willing to sit nearby with a six-pack and ice-cubes, but I struggle to keep mine below 200, much less 150). What kind of setup are you using?

  15. To buy uncured pork belly, try checking your local Asian grocer, mine always has it. I usually have decent luck at my Mexican grocer, too.

    Hank, quick question on the recipe. After moistening the pork with the wine, is the wine mixed into the rub, or discarded?

  16. Where can I find uncured pork belly without having to purchase an entire pig? Local butchershops in Napa do not have it…at least that I have found. I have asked the butchers themselves and they claim they don’t. I don’t mind driving to get it. Been wanting to do bacon for a good while now. Thanks ahead for any info.

  17. I’m always on the search for new bacon curing recipes. We just bought a live hog and had it slaughtered, giving us about 30lbs in pork belly (287lb cut weight) so I have a lot of curing to do. I will definitely be trying this out!

  18. This bacon is really good. The bacon in sweet wheat paste is also excellent; and steaming the resulting bacon then slicing it when chilled makes a great cold cut.