Lard or sometimes referred to as pork lard is a traditional cooking oil for many Chinese recipes. We use pork lard to cook vegetables, noodles, and even steamed buns for quite a long story. So I hope to introduce you to this magic cooking oil, although it has been misunderstood for quite a long time.
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What is lard?
Lard or pork lard refers to melted pork fat, which is usually used as cooking oil. Pork lard initially appears to be semi-transparent and light-yellow liquid after being rendered under high temperature. And later at room temperature for a while, it will solidify into a white or light-yellow paste with a unique scent of grease.
Pork lard possesses several advantages and is widely used in Chinese cooking. Back 15 years ago, we never heard of peanut oil, olive oil, or sunflower seed oil. What we have are lard, beef tallow, and rapeseed oil. Among those three, lard is the most popular and the main oil consumed by common Chinese families. We make lard after Winter Solstice with a large amount once time so it would be enough for the following half year. Lard is demonized for many years in China. Honestly, I cannot understand why because it is a great source of vitamin D， Vitamin A, and monounsaturated fat. And traditional Chinese medicine also shows lots of benefits of lard like preventing constipation.
It is known that vegetable oils, such as peanut oil, canola oil or corn oil, and so on, are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which will result in a large amount of smoke and harmful substances formed in the wok under high temperatures. However, pork lard contains more saturated fatty acid and less unsaturated fatty acid. This characteristic makes the pork lard have a relatively high smoke point and produce fewer harmful substances. On this aspect, pork lard is much more healthy than vegetable oils.
Alongside, pork lard is widely applied in Chinese pastries, such as egg yolk pastry and butterfly pastry, because it works well as a shortening in making pastries. And with the distinctive fragrance of animal fats, dishes cooked with pork lard are much more aromatic and delicious.
Steamed rice with pork lard and noodles with pork lard are deemed two typical delicacies. And pork lard is commonly used to stir-fry various vegetables. Also when cooking dishes, you can mix pork lard with other vegetable oils so as to get more balanced nutrients and flavors.
What type of fat do you use to make lard?
Any part of a pig where a high concentration of fatty tissue exists can be used to make lard. But in practice, pork lard is often obtained from back fat, belly fat, and leaf fat. Back fat is the fat stored under the back of a pig. Belly fat refers to the fat alongside the pork belly. Leaf fat is the fat around the kidneys of a pig. The optimal part to make lard is leaf fat because leaf fat has less pork flavor. And with the same weight of fats, you can get the most pork lard from leaf fat.
How much lard do you get per pound of fat?
The oil yield of leaf fat can reach almost 50% to 60%, which means that you can get about 0.5 to 0.6 pounds of lard from 1 pound of leaf fat.
How to render lard
Rendering lard at home is not quite easy. Lard is super great for stir-fries or stews, even in pastries. There are mainly two kinds of pork fat usually used for rendering lard: one is called leaf fat “板油” in Chinese while the other kind is called common back fat between the grind and lean “肥油” in Chinese. You can use both parts. However, if you want to use lard in pasties, leaf fat will be the best choice.
Blanch the fat in the boiling water for 1 minute. Then transfer out and wash completely.
Add a small bowl of water into the wok and put the fat in. The water can prevent the fat from being burned. Simmer with medium heat and turn to small heat when the water is boiled away and then the fat begins to melt down. At the same time, keep stirring the fat so that the fat can be heated evenly. I will also recommend adding two stalks of scallion and several pieces of ginger.
Scoop the oil out when there is enough oil rendered.
Filter the cracklings and impurities out, pour the oil into a jar, and wait for the lard to cool down.
Continue heating until the cracklings begin to turn golden brown.
I will recommend you store the oil from the beginner half-time and the later half-time in two separate containers. The first half-time pork lard has the best snow white color and can be used in pastry and dessert fillings. The later half-time oil has a stronger aroma and can be used in stir-fries and soups.
- 1000 g pork fat
- 1 cup water
- water for blanching
- 2 stalks scallion
- 4 slices ginger
- Clean the cut the pork fat into small pieces.
- Blanch the fat in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Then transfer out and wash completely.
- Add a small bowl of water into the wok and put the fat in. The water can prevent the fat from being burned. Simmer with medium heat and turn to small heat when the water is boiled away and then the fat begins to melt down. At the same time, keep stirring the fat so that the fat can be heated evenly. I will also recommend adding two stalks of scallion and several pieces of ginger.
- Scoop the oil out when there is enough oil rendered. Filter the impurities out with a strainer.
- Continue heating until the cracklings begin to turn golden brown.
- Filter the cracklings and impurities out, pour the oil into a jar, and wait for the lard to cool down.
Do not forget the cracklings. You can return them back and add some salt or they can be stir-fried with cabbages or carrots.