Much like James Bond, bacon has international charm. This most delicious of meats is beloved around the globe for it’s unique flavour and unparalleled ability to improve just about any dish. Many disparate cultures all around the world simply love cooking with bacon fat, wrapping other foods in bacon, and using bacon as a base flavour in sauces and stews.

Not all bacon is created exactly equal; there are many subtle variations that give each variety of bacon a distinct taste and regional flair. Since all bacon deserves your love, attention and consumption, we were at the Republic of Bacon encourage you to try some of these new and possibly unfamiliar forms of bacon as well as traditional North American side bacon. We hope you enjoy our little international tour of bacon around the world!

Pancetta

Most simply put, pancetta is Italian bacon. Just like ordinary bacon, it is salt cured. What sets it apart is it’s dryness (it is often dried for up to three months), and also the other flavourings used in the curing process, which include fennel, peppercorns, nutmeg, chilies and garlic. These spices give pancetta its characteristic Italian flavour, especially the fennel, which is typically found in Italian sausage. Pancetta also has a somewhat unique appearance, since the pork belly is usually rolled up during the curing process, so when sliced if produces little rounds rather than the usual strips. Pancetta can be cooked crisp just like regular bacon, or cubed and used as a base in wonderful sauces.

Serrano Ham

Also known as jamón serrano, this dry-cured Spanish ham is a close relative to bacon. After a quick salt-cure, the serrano ham is usually hung and dried for up to six months. The final product is usually sliced incredibly thin, and is often eaten raw as part of a charcuterie plate. Like all forms of bacon, however, serrano ham excels when wrapping other foods. Wrapping serrano ham around melon for an unusual sweet-and-salty treat is highly recommended, is is trying this product wrapped around asparagus and quickly roasted in the oven until just crispy. Serrano ham is the close relative of prosciutto, the Italian equivalent.

Samgyeopsal

This mouthful if a dish is a Korean favourite, and something that everyone should try the next time they have Korean barbeque. Thick slices of uncured pork belly, marinated and seasoned, are grilled right on the table, and guests eat the meat right off the grill as soon as it has reached whatever they consider the ideal level of crispiness.

Zeeuws spek

This exotic-sounding meat is bacon from the Netherlands, originally developed in the province of Zeeland. The pork belly meat is seasoned with salt, pepper and bay leaf, and then left to marinate in spiced oil and mustard. The resulting bacon (colloquially just called “spek”) is then slow-cooked, grilled, broiled or smoked. What sets this dish apart from other forms of bacon is that it is never sold raw. The most common preparation is for butchers to sell the meat lightly grilled, so that it tastes like delicious bacon barbeque. Is anyone else’s mouth watering?