Som Moo

Som Moo is also known as Fermented or Soured Pork.

Som Moo can be found in many Asiatic stores, sometimes in small packets, sometimes in large blocks. It makes a great snack or can be used in other dishes such as one of my favourites, Nhem.

It can be eaten “as is”, or cooked, though the former is more preferred.

Most of the commercial Som Moo available contains preservatives and colourings, the latter making it an unusual (though aesthetic) pink.

Homemade Som Moo, like most homemade things is far better. You get a great sense of achievement eating something that you made yourself, or for your friends. :smile:

I posted an LCTV video some time ago and will now follow it up with a step-by-step photo recipe for your reading and eating pleasure. :cheerful:

The recipe is pretty straight forward (there are only 6 ingredients), the important part is in the technique and method.

In this recipe I will talk you through the various ingredients and how to prepare them. Some of the ingredients need to be prepared in advance, and after making the Som Moo you should allow three days for it to ferment in a warm dark place. After that it can be kept chilled in the fridge, which will slow down the fermentation process but will not stop it, hence it should be consumed within a week or so.

When we make Som Moo, we make it up to just over 3kg. If that amount is too much for you, you can always freeze it  later use, alternatively you can halve the recipe, though we find that if you are going to put so much effort in to kneading it (which will be a lot :w00t: ), its better to make a reasonable amount.

Ingredients:

2500g Minced Pork

500g Pork Skin

60g Table Salt

120g Chopped Garlic

120g Sticky Rice

Chillies, as much as you like

Instructions:

This recipe is for 3kg or meat, if you don’t want to use pork skin you can increase the meat by half a kilo, or you could increase the meat by 300g and only use 200g of the skin, whatever you decide, make sure that the meats add up to 3kg. We find that 500g of skin adds a nice light chewy texture to the finished dish.

Make sure that the pork that you buy is fresh and free from any fat (soured raw fat tastes like it sounds :pinch: ), either mince it yourself or ask your butcher to do it for you (make sure they clean the mincing machine beforehand! :blink: )

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Back in the old days before mincers were around, folks back home would chop the pork by hand. This is why some of the older Som Moo dishes contained chunkier bits of meat.

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We like to use fresh skin in our Som Moo that has been previously boiled the day before and allowed to chill before having the fat removed.

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This skin looks dark because it comes from the Iberian Pig. You can also buy dehydrated pork skin from the stores which needs to be reconstructed in water before using. If you cannot get hold of it you can even use Bacon Rind, like we did in our video presentation.

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We use regular Table Salt.

Commercial companies like to add sweeteners (Dextrose), they also like to mix in Nitrites and Nitrates, which  speeds-up and assist the curing process and also gives the finished product that “Pink Colour”.

If you want to use Nitrate Salt you should use 10g of it mixed in with 50g of Table Salt. We prefer not to.

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It is best to wear gloves when chopping garlic. If you are lucky, it is always best to get someone else to chop it for you. :wink:

If you have none of the above, just wash your fingers after chopping the garlic in cool water then rub them against some stainless steel (large spoon, pots or even the sink) then rinse with cool water again. :smile:

som-moo-09-2

Laotian Rice needs to be soaked before it is steamed. For Som Moo it then needs to be “Washed”.

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To wash the cooked Laotian Rice just cover it with luke warm water for a few minutes.

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Then using your hands, grasp at the rice, squeezing it through your fingers.

Rice is the catalyst for the fermentation, and what you are basically doing is breaking and opening up the grains, which will result in a better Som Moo.

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Once washed, discard the water. (When making Som Pak (Fermented or Soured greens) the water is used as the catalyst, and is known as Rice Water)).The washed rice should now be gleaming and will have lost most of its stickiness.

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Now what we have to do is knead the pork.

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Knead the pork for a good 10 to 15 minutes (yes, your arm will ache….). We haven’t added any of the other ingredients yet, what we need to do is “break down” the pork so that it can absorb the other ingredients. Taking time to knead it well now will result in a much better finished product which is better binded and will not fall apart.

Once the pork is broken down it should feel sticky.

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Now we add half of the salt and commence kneading again.

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Give the mixture another good kneading for about 5 minutes. Once that is done, add the remainder of the salt and continue to knead for another 5 minutes. (By this time you arm will feel like it is falling off!). :devil:som-moo-09-17

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If you haven’t broken in to a sweat yet it means that you are not kneading hard enough…. :lol:

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Give your arm a rest for a few minutes then add the washed Laotian Rice.

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Once you arm has recovered, add the garlic and start kneading again. :biggrin:

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Make sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed whilst kneading.

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After a good 10 minutes of kneading add the pork skin.

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Now that the skin has been added, you need to continue…….kneading… :biggrin:

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Obviously if you have a machine such as a Kitchen Aid or similar, it takes a lot of work out of making this dish.

However, the ingredients need to be added as stated above and kneaded in sequence for optimum results. Without getting too technical, what we have been doing is breaking down the meat gradually and adding ingredients in stages when they will each have the a better effect on the meat. If you pile everything at once in a mechanical mixing bowl, the end result will be very quite different. Trust us, we have tried….. :unsure:

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After about 10 minutes of continious kneading the skin will have softened a little further and become a part of the mixture.

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Now you can give your arm a rest. :smile:

By this time, with your constant kneading, and dare I say, passion, you will have noticed the “Som Moo Aroma” that has been waffling from your mixture. Smells good doesn’t it! :biggrin:

.

Now for the rolling.

Line a chopping board with some Cling Film (or Plastic Wrap to our overseas cousins). :silly:

Take about 500g of the mixture and place it in the middle of the board.

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In order to make this part clearer for the reader, we are using a blue chopping board that is normally reserved for fish.

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Make a grove with your fingers on to the mixture and add the fresh chillies. Try to make the groove deep enough to reach the centre of the mixture, this way the chilli will be centred on the final product.

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Gather the mixture over the groove and the chillies.

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Bring the edge of film closest to you over the mixture and press firmly.

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Holding the mixture and meat tightly, roll it away from you, making sure that you keep the shape as cylindrical as possible.

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As you roll, try to mold the mixture in to an long oblong shape. Then gather up the edges of film and press inwards to further pack the cylinder.

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Keep rolling until you have a compact cylinder of the mixture. If you see any air bubbles, just pierce the film with a toothpick or needle and continue to roll, this will expel any air and make sure that your Som Moo doesn’t end up looking like Swiss Cheese. :biggrin:

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Once rolled and compact without any air bubbles, bring the ends of the film to the centre and flatten any knots that have appeared in the film. Roll once again in a sheet of film. The Som Moo should feel compact and tight.

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Follow the same procedure for the rest of the mixture.

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Som Moo is labelled in boxes when we have more than one batch fermenting.

Store in a dark place at room temperature for three days or so.

As the pork ferments the meat will get tougher and less “springy”. You can taste it after two days to see how far it has fermented and if it is sour enough to your taste, otherwise leave it for another 12 to 24 or even 36 hours (tasting at intervals).

We leave ours to ferment for three days, but seeing as every room has its own distinct temperature, your taste buds will tell you when it is ready.

Once ready (or “ripe” as we say :smile: ) the Som Moo must be placed in the fridge. As I said earlier, this will slow down the fermentation not stop it. Therefore it should be consumed within a week or so, or frozen.

To use frozen Som Moo, it is best to defrost it overnight in the fridge.

Notes:

The better the mixture is kneaded, the better the end result will be.

For a more commercial looking Som Moo you can blitz the Washed Laotian Rice and Garlic in a blender, however we find it better when it is cut and chopped by hand, which results in minute tasty chunks of rice and garlic in the finished product.

Som Moo is addictive…. :tongue:

To serve you can just cut through the film and Som Moo with a sharp knife, then remove the film from the edges.

som-moo-finished

Enjoy. :cheerful:

(wow! thats like the longest post ever……)

42 thoughts on “Som Moo

  1. …but one of the best posts!  Who doesn’t love Som Moo?  Gotta be one of my all time favorites.  I usually get mine at the Asian market but never knew how they made it until now…thank you for the recipe!  Hooray pork!

  2. i’ve always wondered this about som moo… is it safe to eat raw? we always keep some in the fridge but i prefer to pop mine in the microwave before i eat it.  i eat fish and beef (on occassion) raw but am hesitant to eat the som moo raw since it’s pork and everyone’s been raised to not eat pork or chicken raw.  although… i have seen higher end restaraunts serve pork medium rare and duck medium.  i didn’t think this was safe to do, is it?

  3. Hola Silthilert, now that you know how to make it yourself, go ahead and give it a try.

    Hola Chad, the pork has been fermented and in effect cured. Todays standards of raising and feeding pork for consumption have greatly improved, and the chances of Trichinosis in pork are now extremely rare. I too was raised to eat pork “well done” (and dry) as in my parents time Trichina was more prolific.

    Glad to say that times have changed and as you have said, many restaurants are now serving their pork medium rare and juicy.

    In the UK a few years ago there was a big scare surrounding Salmonella and undercooked eggs, but that scare too has passed and nobody seems to mind eating a raw yolk (imagine Steak Tartare) or a runny yolk (fried or boiled eggs).

    I have always eaten Duck Breast cooked rare to medium rare (and raw on occassions). I guess that it is all down to personal taste.

    There is nothing wrong with cooking a Som Moo if that is the way you like it. :smile:

  4. I appreciate this “long” post of yours on som moo. My mom use to make it to sell at the market in vientiane. She makes the best!! Well now she’s not here and in the states so I guess I have this recipe to make for myself. Thanks again!!

  5. Hello tnx for the detailed recipe, i love som moo, have been trying making this without success. i wonder what is the diffrence in Laotian Rice and normal rice we buy at asian groceries?( thai/vietnamese) or is it glutinous rice ?

  6. Sticky Rice is sold under the name Glutinous Rice. It looks different to Jasmine Rice under close inspection. If in doubt, just ask at the store.

    Have fun! :smile:

  7. Pingback: laocook » Blog Archive » Nhem

  8. Hi again Vienne,

    I have just been back from a wonderful trip to japan and i absolutly fell in love with fermented small shrimp and  i noticed that it also contains laotian/japanese ;-) rice and i was wondering if it would follow a similar fermenting process to so moo. do you have any idea?
    also a filipino friend of mine gave me some fresh unpasteurised midgit-tiny fermented shrimps, similar to thai shrimp paste but more intense in flavour, more salty and with whole shrimps (might be more similar to padek though)
    do you have any idea how / why the rice helps the fermentation process?

    thanks a lot. cheers!!

  9. Hi Umami,

    Japan eh! Lucky you! I am sure that you had a gastronomic time there!

    I do know that Rice and Rice Water (rice grains broken down in tepid liquid) aid in the fermentation of proteins, which in turn is basically food that has been subjected to “good” bacteria which can produce distinct flavours. Why so? will need further investigation.

    (Rice when in its dry state, cannot ferment if there is no liquid present).

    When we make Soured Fish (Som Pa) and Soured Pork (Som Moo) we always add Rice Water and fermentation normally starts in 18 hours lasting up to 36 hours at room temperature, this is why it is tasted at various times to find the right “sourness”. Chilling it will slow down the fermentation but not stop it. Hence it should be consumed within a few days or frozen.

    When we make Soured Cabbage (Som Calumbee), we also add Rice Water, but we dont really have to as Lactic Bacteria is naturally present in the vegetable, which in turn helps ferment it by consuming the natural sugars of the cabbage “juice” which is extracted by adding salt, think Saurkraut.

    Therfore I guess that the Rice Water aids fermentation but doesnt cause it. It is a componant of the fermentation process which perhaps would not work without “good bacteria” or other catalyst such as salt or sugar. But as a I said, this needs more investigation.
    :)

  10. Thanks so much for your reply Vienne.

    One more question, do you use lean pork for this recipe? i suppose you do as fat might produce  a  strange and pungent smell on the som moo, right?

    Cheers,
    íñigo

  11. Hi Umami, yep, lean meat is the best as the fat can get rancid after fermentation.

    You can use fat if you intend to cook the Som Moo, we sometimes use Costillas then BBQ them.

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  13. Well done & Goodluck to you & your family!!
    just happen to drop by at your..take a look? ..i just miss alot of laosian food and everything in vientian Laos..mom died 2002 she was born in savanhnaket  my father is a filipino,we went to stay in iran the time of war..i mean before the war..start..since my  youger years..now,i got married to a filipino and a happylife with my husband.me and my sister are still talking in losian language ..hehe..when i were still teen i told myself i will go to USA to visit my father..well,gues what…im still here…in manila..you will have a hard time to get out from the country..say..we are not that rich but a middle class…huey…hey..whatever..im just sad and missed alot my mom..she died but she havent seen her family back in laos..and ..i dont know with my father until now…whats his plan?? any way…im married and mom ..gone..i dont know people back there..i wrote to mom’s relative but no one answer…maybe thats it..until now..i saw my papa when i was …8 or 9 years old now mom died i saw him…wow..i dont know if i will cry …is this tears of happiness or a blaming tears??me & my sister have no realtives at all…i was alone to take mom to hospital and care for her the food and medicines and …but..after 5years she died..and here comes my papa…and im 32year old!..all the pain and the words WHY?…well…just tears…and prayers only…i had left. and you know what? my father left us and left to usa again and i dont know what is his plan?manila is so…hard for people like us ..we are happy but…you know what? when i saw this site of yours posted here..i was amazed alot and my mom came to life here in my heart?
    i miss her alot…she’s a very good mom..the best..and i take God for giving her to us..and im proud to be one of a million laosian…now im cooking laosian food for my husband and the som moo..i been reading the newest rap which now laosian had thats great!! because when i wr  still small i cant reme,ber all..  just few…very few…but the food…thats where …my memories came all back…its my mom…she always ask me”khame, mak kin yang? ku si het hai meng kin?kaw new ..ka mi lab ne yu ni ..geng pa..any way…sorry to .. you guys…just wanted to great you two…maybe its late to greet you for your wedding but…you two look great guys…wishing you all the best and more success& happiness…Godbless!! keep it up.
     

  14. Hi Vhiengkhame, and thanks for you nice comments.
    We are happy that the site has provided you with some memories and inspiration.
    We will pass you well wishes on to King and Laurene. :biggrin:

  15. Hello Vienne,
     
    I truly enjoy your site. Great work!.
     
    Thanks a lot for the som moo recipe.  I will try to make some soon. By the way, when are you going to write a Lao cook book? I would love to buy one.

  16. Hi Phouang, and thanks for your nice comments.

    I hope that the recipe serves you well and that´ll end up with loads of lovely Som Moo! I don´t think that we are clever enough to make a Lao cookbook, its sad that many of the older recipes are hardly written down. But I would love to learn about the history of our dishes, there are so many variations and versions to know about. Perhaps one day I´ll take a few months off and travel around…that would be ideal!

  17. Hi Vienne,

    I have just stumbled across your great site! Im planning on making the som moo this weekend, however after studying this receipe I’m unfamiliar with the sticky rice process?

    I understand that sticky rice needs to be soaked and washed and washed again before steaming. In your recipe do I steam the rice before I add to the pork mix? or am I adding the soaked & washed rice?

  18. Hola Vongphet and thanks for your nice comments.
    The rice is cooked (steamed) before being washed, then added to the pork mix. I hope that you enjoy your Som Moo! :biggrin:
     

  19. at our local lao stores they sell this thing for about $20/lb (~$40/Kg) so i decided it was time to make our owns. i got your recipe and went to a store to get 6lbs of american cut pork for $12. went to a local mexican store and got a pound of pork skin ($1).  i had week old stiff sticky rice left in the rice basket so i put that in a bowl with water, put in a microwave til it got soft. added $0.5 garlic and we had a som moo. it turn out perfect. less than $15 for 7lbs of som moo that’s way unbelievable. that was six months ago. last week i just made another batch. this time i made it with tenderloin cut. it was more work to get fat free meat out of tenderloin. this time  i was too lazy and made no attempt to wrap them individually like a sausage. i put them all in a glass baking tray. wrap the whole shebang with clear shrink wrap tightly and then put a rice bag on top of it. it turn out perfect like before. now every family gathering they ask me to make one for the occasion. now i’m afraid we are going die faster for eating so much raw meat. what can i say, your recipe is the best. thanks for posting it.

  20. Hola Mik, and thanks for your very kind words.
    I am glad that you have got some mileage from the recipe!
    Sometimes we also shape it in to different shapes and slice it differently.
    Homemade is always better, and I think that family, friends and guests appreciate it more than the mass produced stuff.
    I am so happy that you like the recipe! :biggrin:
     
     

  21. hey chef.how’s it going in spain?i heard that spain are such a really food fanatic?is it true chef.and you som moo reciept is the bomb man.i made that one time and i took it with me
    on my day off to go fishing that taste so good when grilled over on open fire.try it you guy.you like aot and don’t forget to drink with laobeer perfect combo.thanks chef.

  22. oh i almost forgot chef. you know that lao new is just two months away. i was just wondering was the best dishes to prepared for a new year getogether before going out for
    the big celebration.you know lao people celebrate new year.lol. give me a simple and easy short idea chef.hope to hear from you soon chef .

  23. Hola Donnie,

    Glad you are using and like the Som Moo recipe. Sadly we don´t get Beerlao here, but we have enough supplements!

    We also make Som Moo with pork ribs, which taste great BBQed!

  24. Hi Donnie,

    New Year (or any other excuse for a get-together) is a great time for food. These festivities normally include the usual culinary suspects like, Larb, Grilled Chicken, Som Moo, Papaya Salad (you cannot have a celebration without Tum Mhak Houng!) or even a nice Khao Poun.

    All food is good. :biggrin:

  25. Sabaydee. I’m looking you site and I love it. Thank you very much for your recipes. it s the same meal my mom doing. I hope your continue

  26. Thansk so much for this recipe! Looking forward to trying it!

    2 questions concerning nitrates:

    Your suggestion of 10g / 50g nitrate seems really high compared to nitrate added to Western style summer sausages. Were you talking about pure nitrate or a curing salt with nitrate added (prague powder)?

    Also if you don’t mind saying, what are your reasons for avoiding nitrate? My understanding is that it not only preserves color (not essential, I agree) but also prevents botulism. I always try and make things w/ minimal number of ingredients, but nitrate seems to have a centuries long history of use both in the East and West, and for good reason, too!

    Thanks again for posting, though. Greatly helpful stuff. Probably the only recipe in English that doesn’t use those powders in a paper packet.

  27. Hello LD, and thanks for your comment.
     
    The 10g of pink salt mixed in with 50g of table salt would give you the 60g of salt mentioned in the recipe, which is about 2 teaspoons of nitrates for 3kg of meat.
    The reason why I avoid using it is because I want to make recipes simple that can be made at home without adding too many preservatives, colourings or flavour enhancers that can be found in commercial foods.
    I agree that nitrate helps in the fermentation of the pork, but I am giving a recipe that would result in a more natural looking homemade Som, unlike the small pink packets of fermented pork products that are available in stores.
    I also agree that nitrates can help prevent botulism but there is always a risk present when making something that will not be cooked before being eaten. I think that there are dangers present in most things that we eat, being raw or fermented fish, undercooked eggs, raw meats etc… More so with homemade recipes like tiramisu that features raw eggs, but everyone has a choice whether or not to make it and eat it.
    We could go on forever about food borne illnesses, good and bad bacterias etc.. and the risks associated with preparing foods, but if we were to follow every “written rule” (whether right, wrong or over cautious), most of todays food, especially in restaurants would be unimaginative, overcooked and boring. When would it end? When restaurant menus carry health warnings like tabacco products?
    The recipe is a guideline and should be used as such, adding or adjusting the seasonings as per taste. You will also notice that I dont use MSG in the recipe, neither do I add it in any recipes in the restaurant, again this is a long subject too…..
    I do hope that you try the recipe and let me know how it goes, if it can be improved, I will welcome any suggestions.
    Have fun!
     
     
     

  28. Pingback: Carne ácida fermentada en casa: nem chua « Umami Madrid: recetas asiáticas y españolas y nuevas técnicas de cocina

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  30. Hi! I love nam & am so glad I found this recipe! I’m going to attempt this soon & was wondering how long you boiled the pork skin on the previous day? Hope to hear from you! Thanks!

  31. Hola Pauline,

    You can boil the skin for about an hour, then taste it to see if its not too chew, it should still have some texture, more than an hour and a half I find it becomes too soft.

    Hope you enjoy it!

  32. This is awesome! I moved away from CA (where Som Moo is readily available) to AL where there are hardly any Lao people and it’s hard to find glutinous rice. Culture shock for sure and had me wishing I knew how to make the Lao food I took for granted in CA. Thanks for this recipe, I am going to attempt it in the near future.

  33. Hi Aai Vienne

    Just wanted to thank you for putting this very simple som moo recipe online. I tried it last month and it came out beautifully! Even all my non-Lao friends enjoy eating it and are eagerly awaiting my next batch.

    For my first attempt, I didn’t have any pork skin so just used organic pork mince only. Without the pork skin, it does lack that texture which I think is very important for this recipe.

    Thanks again! Looking forward to future posts.

  34. Hi Tom!

    Glad you tried and enjoyed the recipe!

    I do love a homemade Som Moo, much better than what you can buy at the stores, at least you know what ingredients are in it!

  35. Sabaidee Ai,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to post about making som moo. For a long time I wanted to make this even though my mom is the master of making it. For me it has to be written out like this to be able to follow. Will try soon!

  36. Being one that has made a variety of home sausages and some “dry cured” meats
    ( SALUMI ). I have some familiarity with prague powders (now known as Insta Cure #1 and #2). The #1 cure is used for meats that require cooking before eatting, and the #2 is for product NOT to be cooked. Cooking meats that have been cured with #2 converts the cure to a hazardous substance YOU DO NOT WANT TO CONSUME!
    When used PROPERLY, #2 breaks down naturally over the EXTENDED time (3-18 months) required to cure / produce the desired product by preventing those nasty little critters from getting a foothold until the moisture percentage level falls below the threshold that supports their needs to survive. This process ALSO requires the ability to accurately control temperature and humidity, both of which change at different stages. ( i.e.; Prosciutto, Coppa, Lonza, Pancetta, Guaniciale, Spalla, Salamis, etc.).
    This recipe is for fermented NOT cured meat. Standard sanitary / handling procedures combined with the relatively short fermentation period of this product should lay-at-ease any reasonable persons’ concerns.
    A further word of caution for the wise.., PLEASE become knowledgeable with the above #2 process BEFORE you dive into the WONDERFUL world of dry-curing. While the rewards can’t be bought, it’s like wild mushroom hunting. Your mistakes can cost you DEARLY.

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