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Salo, sliced small and sprinkled with black pepper, in Ukraine
A slab of słonina aged in paprika, popular in Central and East Europe

Salo (Ukrainian and Russian: са́ло, Belarusian: са́ла, Hungarian: szalonna Polish: słonina, Bulgarian: сланина (slanina) or less often сало (salo), Macedonian: сланина (slanina), Romanian slănínă or slánă, Slovene, Serbo-Croatian, Czech and Slovak: slanina, Lithuanian: lašiniai) is a traditional Central and Eastern European food: cured slabs of fatback (rarely pork belly), with or without skin. As a trend, the Eastern European one is salted or brine fermented, hence the names slonina/slana/szalonna (solonýna in Ukrainian and solonina in Russian mean any kind of salt-cured meat, such as corned beef). The Central European one is usually treated with paprika or other condiments, while the South European one is often smoked.

The Slavic word "salo" as applied to this type of food (it has other meanings as well) is often translated to English as "bacon" or "lard". Unlike lard, salo is not rendered. Unlike bacon, salo is not necessarily bacon-cured. Salo has little or no meat (skeletal muscle), and low-meat high-fat bacon commonly is referred to as salo.

Contents

Preservation

For preservation, salo is salted, sometimes also smoked and aged in a dark and cold place, where it will last for a year or more. For flavouring and better preservation salo may be cured, or covered with a thick layer of paprika, minced garlic, or sometimes black pepper. The slabs of fat are cut into manageable pieces, typically 15×20 cm, and smeared with salt. The slabs are placed skin-down into a wooden box or barrel, alternating with one-centimetre layers of salt.

When salo has been aged too long, or exposed to light, the fat may become oxidized on the surface and become yellowed and bitter-tasting. Then it can be used as a water-repellent treatment for leather boots or as a bait for mouse traps or simply turned into homemade soap.

Culinary

Lašiniai, a Lithuanian type of salo

Salo may be consumed raw, but can also be cooked or fried or finely chopped with garlic as a condiment for borscht (beet soup). Small pieces of salo are added to some types of sausage. Thinly-sliced salo on rye bread rubbed with garlic is a traditional snack to accompany vodka in Russia, or, and particularly, horilka in Ukraine.

Salo is often chopped into small pieces and fried to render the fat for use in cooking, while the remaining cracklings (shkvarky in Ukrainian, spirgai in Lithuanian, skwarki in Polish) are used as condiments for fried potatoes or varenyky.

The thick pork skin that remains after using the salo's fat can also contribute to the stock for soup or borscht. After boiling it is discarded.

Salo in popular culture

In Eastern-European humour, salo is a stereotypical attribute of Ukrainian culture, analogous to vodka and bears with balalaikas for Russian; beer and wurst for German; oatmeal for English; Coca-cola and cheeseburgers for the US culture. In jokes salo is often represented as the highest object of desire for the stereotypical Ukrainian.

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Salo in chocolate

The expression "chocolate-coated salo" (salo v shokoladi), originating in an ethnic joke about Ukrainians, has become cliché among Eastern Slavs, referring to an eclectic mix of tastes or desires.

In the 2000s, Odessa Confectionery Factory started production of candies Salo v Shokoladi.[1][2][3] Popular singer Ruslana is a fan of this treat. The chocolate candies were invented as an April Fool's Day joke. They are not actually salo; they contain a regular caramel filling with a small amount of rendered fat added as a salty flavouring.

See also

References


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