Pork lard – successfully banished!

January 28, 2007

A friend took me to Chinatown the other day to eat what he considered “a very good wanton mee” – at the second level of the hawker centre behind Chinatown point. It was good. And, at $2 for quite a large serving, one cannot complain.

I had a minor grouse, however. Something was missing which would have made the noodles more delicious – PORK LARD. No need for a lot. Just a dash of it will do.

Many of us might have forgotten – or are too young to know – the time when wontan noodles came with pork lard. I was reminded of it only recently when I ate a plate in Johor Baru. That dash of pork lard made a difference.

And it occurred to me that pork lard, while not banned, has practically been banished from Singapore. The same with the other type of saturated fat – coconut milk and coconut oil.

It has become so difficult nowadays to find a hawker who fries char kway teow with pork lard. And so it has become so difficult to find a good char kway teow.

Anybody knows a good one, let me know. I had tried asking taxi drivers, especially those who spoke Teochew. The reply I usually get is, “Nowadays hard to find”.

Likewise, it has become hard to find a good bowl of laksa with that lemak flavour of rich coconut milk. Even at Katong, the laska does not seem to be as lemak as it used to be.

And it must have been decades since I last enjoyed a really nice, rich chendol.

I do know, however, of one place at sells youtiao fried in coconut oil. It’s at the market / hawker centre along Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 (Blk 160+ the one with a big carpark in front). Look for the stall with the long queue!

It shows how successful our health authorities have been in putting across the message that saturated fats are bad, bad, BAD!

But this is a misguided message. Saturated fats are not only delicious, but also beneficial to health in many ways. Among other things:

  • Saturated fats preserve the integrity of our cell walls. Our cell walls are supposed to be made up of 50 percent saturated fats. No thanks to the big push for switching to polyunsaturated oils, our cell walls have become weakened. And no thanks to trans fats, they have become distorted as well.
  • Saturated fats are needed for calcium absorption – which means that the calcium in all those low fat milks don’t get absorbed very well.
  • Saturated fats help the body to conserve and utilise beneficial Omega-3 fats.

And so on.

You can read more about the many benefits of saturated fats – and the reasons why they DO NOT cause heart disease and cancer – at my website, www.stop-trans-fat.com.

Having so successfully banished saturated fats from the local food chain, our health authorities are understandably reluctant to eliminate artificial trans fats, especially when many of them are still stuck with the errorneous belief that saturated fats are harmful.

They worry that any attempt to eliminate trans fats will raise the level of saturated fats intake.

There is no need to worry. Throughout the world, humans had always been taking saturated fats as their main form of fat – pork lard in China, butter in Europe, goose fat in parts of France, ghee in India, coconut and palm oil in the tropics… And, I just read in the weekend edition of TODAY newspaper, yak butter in Tibet.

And heart disease, cancer, etc were rare until the last century. In fact, the rates of heart disease, cancer, obesity and other degenerative disease skyrocketed during the last few decades, as recently as the 1970s and 80s, when people began to take less saturated fats.

Even today, countries like Korea have low rates of heart disease and cancer, despite the population eating plenty of beef – all that red meat, saturated fats and cholesterol! Because in places like Korea, the consumption of trans fats and other modern foods is still very low. Click here to learn more.

Go find out more. A good source of information is the Weston Price Foundation – but the articles there tend to be more detailed and more technical, so if you want something easier to digest, go to my website first.

As you find out, you will discover that cholesterol, too, is not harmful but necessary and beneficial for health. People with high cholesterol actually live longer, healthier lives!

So go out and enjoy your char kway teow and laksa… with extra cockles, without any guilt.


  1. I think I believe that pork lard is still better than our processed cooking oil in terms of health.
    But one thing I`m still afraid is that nowadays pigs are fed with food mixed with chemicals such as the one which can produce lean meat.


  2. I think one of the reasons why people have less heart disease and cancer last time is that they tend to exercise more, also they don’t take as much processed food like we do now.

    Shouldn’t taking of whatever fats be balanced with a good exercise regime?

    Don’t know leh, what about those obese people, should they continue to take as much saturated fats as they used to?

  3. There is definitely value in exercise, or rather, physical activity – including mundane things like scrubbing the floor or washing the toilet.

    But has it occurred to you that these days, even athletes and other physically active people develop heart disease, cancer etc?

  4. I agree that we could (esp those athletes you talk about) be taking less saturated fat than necessary, but I think a larger contribution could come from the processed and modified food (vs natural/organic) with insecticides, growth hormones and such?

    Its really hard to find places that serves organic food, its even harder to find good tasting ones!

  5. Yes of course. Lots of factors account for the high rates of heart disease, cancer, etc – lack of exercise, stress, food chemicals, environmental pollution, etc. etc.

    Even, as my friend who took me to eat the noodles suggested, lack of rest.

    The point I am making is that saturated fats are NOT the cause. But they have been taking the blame for the past 50+ years.

    And yes, hard to find places that serve delicious organic food. But at least the situation has much improved from before. eg quite many Chinese vegetarian stalls now serve brown rice whereas 15 years ago, it was virtually impossible to eat brown rice outside the home.

    I will touch more on these issues soon but right now I feel the urgent matter is trans fats! They are deadly.

  6. The last time I ate wantan mee with pork lard it tasted weird. It seems that they simply add a few pieces of it by the side after preparing the noodles.

    The really dangerous thing about pork lard is that it’s too delicious. Can’t resist eating them all, hehe.

  7. Actually my objection is that they replace the lard with palm oil, which is even more unhealthy than lard.

    So we think it’s healthier, but it’s worse for us and on top of that it tastes like shit.

  8. Pork lard, as well as other animals’ fat is far superior to modern hydrogenized cooking oils.

    The problem is not the vegetable oils, which are OK, the problem is hydrogenation, a petrochemical process wrongly applied to organics to be ingested.

    Hydrogenation makes oil ‘stable’ meaning at the same their degradability is tampered with so that they end-up in arteries, and cell walls.

    Why hydrogenate cooking oils? Simple: to make them last a long-time at the shelves, and to make them rather solid so they can be easy to use in baking breads, ice-cream, etc.

    Vegetable oils in their natural state will go rancid otherwise. Pork lard, and other lards, though, can stand for very long times at most ambient temperatures. Temperature only changes its viscocity. It is pretty much spoil-proof. Bacteria does not readily affect it, nor usual germs: It is a defense mechanism for animals. It is a fundamental for life.

    Proof: The kidneys of cows, for instance, are covered entirely by a layer of the animals own fat (lard) about 1.5″ thick.

    Pork lard is good, in the right amounts, of course. Use actually less than vegetable oil. Do not use hydrogenated pork-lard.

    Natural lard is ‘inconvenient’ to the sellers because it’s difficult to pack, as its viscosity changes. Hydrogenated lard is pretty much stable, as it has undrgone a petrochemical process similar to that of automotive grease.

  9. Thanks Mononin.

    I learnt something new here, didn’t know there was such a thing as hydrogenated pork lard.

  10. Hello Richard,

    I found this article of yours, oddly enough, trying to find the difference between ghee, lard and butter when searching for the perfect roti prata recipe.

    I absolutely agree that the low-fat diet that has trickled from the USA to Singapore food standards is not doing the local population much good. And our hawker food just doesn’t taste that fantastic anymore due to the changes in oils when cooking.

    There was an article by Gary Taubes on Sunday, July 7, 2002, New York Times Magazine cover story titled What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?, that told of how the low-fat hypothesis has failed the test of time.

    I would personally encourage people to go back to natural eating. Saturated fats are not deadly and I personally don’t think they make one obese if coupled with a sensible diet i.e. not overeating per se.


  11. Pork lard is wonderful but I think its important to render the lard from organic pork. Why not try Vic’s meat, Singapore, and ask for Pasture Perfect Pork…its the best pork.

  12. The topic is quite trendy in the net right now. What do you pay the most attention to when choosing what to write ?

  13. It is ironic that you find more food that are prepared using margarine or butter, which are more unhealthy than pork lard.

    Sometime ago I had to decide between using shortening and lard for the pastry for my baked pork bun. After some research, and comparing the content, I found butter to have even more saturated fat and shortening are usually contain the nasty trans fat.

    One of the populat stree food in this region is roti prata, which many of us are not aware that uses a hefty amount of margarine, i.e. palm oil that are hydrogenated to make it solid and workable.

  14. Fats should be eaten FOR weight loss. IN india we are fortunate to get coconut oil, ghee, palm oil, tallow and lard and ridiculously cheap.

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