Salo (Ukrainian and Russian: ñàëî)
is a traditional Central and Eastern European food: cured slabs of
fatback (rarely pork belly), with or without skin. The Central European one is usually treated with paprika or other
condiments, while the South European one is often smoked.
Left: Salo, sliced small and sprinkled
with black pepper, in Ukraine.
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 Slavic word "salo" as applied to this type of food 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.
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.
Salo may be consumed raw, but can also be
cooked or fried or finely chopped with garlic as a condiment for
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
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) are used as condiments for fried potatoes or
Left: Salo chopped
into pieces, ready for frying.
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.
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.
In Eastern-European humour, salo is a stereotypical attribute of Ukrainian
culture, analogous to vodka and bears with balalaikas for Russian.
In jokes salo is often represented as the highest object of desire for the