The other white meat.
July 31, 2006 5:45 PM   Subscribe

I have a question about bacon. And sausage. I currently live in Japan, and the bacon here is...well...different. Try to fry it like American bacon and it just sort of scorches--it's more like regular ham in that respect. The sausage here too is strange, like hot dogs but not as good (if that's even possible). But it's not just Japan...

Once I hopped to Vancouver and the sausage there was a little weird--yellowish with an almost gamey taste. The bacon was strange as well (and it was different from the "Canadian bacon" Americans get on pizza.) Years ago in the States, I made some Jimmy Dean sausage links for a British friend, who had to muster the courage to eat them, saying they looked shriveled up and dry (but changed his mind completely upon trying one).

So why all this disparity with pork products? It's all from the same animal, so what is the difference in the curing process? Anyone eat any really weird pork in a foreign country?
posted by zardoz to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You probably had back bacon (or peameal bacon) in Van. It is similar to "Canadian bacon" but in Canada, "Canadian" bacon isn't smoked, and it I believe it's often pickle cured.
posted by poweredbybeard at 5:58 PM on July 31, 2006

i can't be of any help with your pork problem, but i emailed a side question to you at the address in your profile, if you don't mind...
posted by whatzit at 6:11 PM on July 31, 2006

There are plenty of variables between these products even within the same country. (Or same state, even.)

* The meat itself -- the pig's diet, age, environment, etc.
* For bacon: How the meat is cured, whether it is smoked, how and from where it is cut, etc.
* In the case of sausage, variables include other ingredients in addition to the meat, how finely ground the meat is, what part of the pig it's from, how much fat is in the mix, etc.
posted by desuetude at 6:12 PM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: After two years in England and five in Australia, I think I've finally figured it out. What we Americans think of as bacon, everybody else thinks of as "streaky bacon" or middle rashers. When you order bacon in a restaurant here, you tend to get "short cut bacon," which is just the thick "eye" piece from the end of the rasher. It may or may not have the rind on it. Overall the rashers are cut much thicker than in the US, so even if you buy streaky bacon, it's difficult to get it as crisp as you can in the US.

As for sausage, American breakfast sausage is weird. Nobody else in the world does it. When you get sausages for breakfast here, they're just plain pork sausages without a lot of seasoning. I tried to make biscuits and gravy here for my Aussie husband and the sausage meat I got at the grocery store was ORANGE and had the texture of paste. (I think it was meant for making sausage rolls.) Whenever I've made a recipe with sausage here, I've had to buy them from the butcher and squeeze the meat out of the skins. It's still never as spicy as at home though.
posted by web-goddess at 6:17 PM on July 31, 2006

You definitely need to check out The Meatguy, which is hands-down the best source of quality meats in Japan for foreigners with slightly pickier taste than the locals.
posted by nightchrome at 6:33 PM on July 31, 2006

I live in Japan and I love bacon, this is also a bog problem for me. Someone told me that bacon here is actually cooked or "pasturized" as he explained it. So it is actually just bacon shaped ham. I have not found real bacon in Japan outside of costco, and im not going to pay $7 for one pound of pre sliced bacon. so, Ive been making it myself. Making it at home is slightly involved, but IMO it's worth it. The meat guy doesn't have bacon but he does have pork casings for makng sausage. The sausages in Japan are also pasturized. I think the weird pork offerings all boils down to food safety laws here.
posted by Infernarl at 6:59 PM on July 31, 2006

Anyone eat any really weird pork in a foreign country?

My SO has opined that the weirdest pork product is American bacon.
posted by pompomtom at 7:35 PM on July 31, 2006

With bacon - cut incisions into the fatty rind every 1 - 2 cm before you fry. When the muscle-y side shrinks faster than the fatty side, there's play for the extra fatty side to go thus ensuring that the bacon is flat on the pan and all parts of it recieve the same amount of cooking. No more soggy bacon with burnt bits. You might want to add some oil to the pan, when you first start. Start at a medium high temperature but turn it down to low after you've flipped the slices twice. Needle-nosed chopsticks are superior to forks, spatulas, and even the allmight tongs for manipulating your cooking bacon. Blot both sides on a paper towel when done.
posted by porpoise at 7:43 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second themeatguy, at least for meat, pies (as close as you can get to kiwi style pies!) and sausages.

I found when I moved to NZ, they use a lot of mutton to pad out things like sausages, so it was hard to find sausages I liked.

I found when I moved to Japan that they use fish products to pad out the sausages, so they always had a hint of fish to them.

But themeatguy, nissinham (azabujuban) helps a lot there. And to lesser degree, National and Costco.
posted by lundman at 8:15 PM on July 31, 2006

Make your own bacon - it's dead easy. Buy a couple of pounds of pork belly. Rub the pork all over with salt, sugar/dextrose and sodium nitrite (pink salt), then put it in a ziploc bag for a while. The liquid comes out of the pork, making a brine that cures the meat. When it feels firm in the centre (about a week), pop it in a low oven til it reaches an internal temp of 150oF / 65oC. Take it out of the oven, remove the skin while it's hot, chill it - voila, bacon. I can post a more detailed recipe from this book tonight if you like, along with a couple of recipes for sausage.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:19 PM on July 31, 2006

Anyone eat any really weird pork in a foreign country?

Many years ago, I had a pork dish at a chinese restaurant in Hod Ha'sharon (outside of Tel Aviv, Israel).

It was the most wretched thing I have ever tasted in my life.
(yeah..what was I thinking...pork in Israel)
posted by zerokey at 8:30 PM on July 31, 2006

Anyone eat any really weird pork in a foreign country?

Kenya. Pasty inside. Yuck.
posted by internal at 9:46 PM on July 31, 2006

hm, the meat guy seems to have both Pancetta and German smoked bacon. And also seems to have an number of sausages which are not orange paste.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:36 PM on July 31, 2006

zardoz, where in Japan do you live? If you're anywhere near Tokyo, try Nissin World Delicatessen (Nissin Ham, as lundman mentioned above) in Azabu Juban. They have a lot of American style meat products, and frozen imported meat, too, so you might find the type of bacon that you're craving. But then, I don't think the store-brand bacon you can buy there is too different from the more general Japanese kind, just thicker. Then again, I've never really paid attention to their entire range of pork products, so it might be worth a visit.
posted by misozaki at 11:32 PM on July 31, 2006

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