Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Homemade Chinese Sausage

To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making. – Otto von Bismarck 


Chinese sausage is a generic term referring to many different kinds of sausages originating in (you guessed it) China. 

You can purchase dried Chinese sausage in most Asian groceries. The pork variety is one of my favourite. They have a unique taste.

Running across the street to the Asian grocery was one of the things I was going to miss the most about not living in the city. There are no “ethnic” markets – of any kind – on the South Shore. If you can’t get it at the bulk food store or grocery you’re out of luck.

So you have to plan trips to the Big City carefully. A trip for staples to Halifax means something entirely different than a trip to Bridgewater or Liverpool.

This is the meat ready to sit overnight in the fridge.
One of the things I wanted to do here was try to make these sausages at home. How hard can they be? Come to find out – not very, actually. 

What one person can do in their kitchen half a world away can be replicated if you have the right ingredients – and the right equipment.

My new toy
I recently splurged on a sausage grinder/stuffer attachment for the KitchenAid. It was on sale 50% off at our local Canadian Tire. 

Even though it was still pricey it was well worth the outlay. It has opened up a whole world of food to me. I would recommend it to anyone interested in making sausage who has a KitchenAid stand mixer.

A difficult to obtain deal-breaker ingredient could have been the casings. But luckily I found a local supplier. Natural hog casings were found in Bridgewater at Greek’s Butcher shop. They actually have several varieties. Whew...

What's in a name...
But the very first obstacle I had to overcome was to find out what the sausages were actually called. The packaging is almost entirely in Chinese, which I do not read. Luckily that wasn’t too hard of a job.

But then there was the task of finding a recipe that would replicate those that I love so much. Lap Chang, Run Chang, Xiang Chang... they’re all slightly different. Sometimes it's also spelled "Chong" or "Xiang," just to add confusion.

So this was a bit of a stab in the dark. At least I could rule out any recipe that called for liver. I’ve bought those inadvertently. Not to my taste, thank you.

I also ran into a bit of a snag in trying to figure out drying them. Unfortunately because of the massive amount of dust kicked up by the adjacent mill I certainly couldn’t risk hanging them to dry – even in our basement.

A little from Column A, a little from Column B
So I settled on a recipe cobbled together from a few sources that sounded like they would send me in the right direction, and were oven dried slowly for 5 hours. I was not steered wrong.

The only authentic thing I didn’t do was chop my sausage and fat by hand. Apparently in China it is common for the meat and fat to be diced small by hand. No thanks.

These sausages contain a lot of fat. Make no mistake. But if you want to try your hand at making Chinese sausages close to what you can buy this recipe is it.

I did make one “learning” mistake. I made them too plump. It wasn’t the end of the world, but next time I will use the thinner (breakfast sausage) stuffer tube. That way they will dry much more like those sausages you can buy.

We had three of these last night for supper with rice, egg and green onions. It was a revelation to bite into them and taste all those flavours – almost identical to ones I can only get by taking a trip to the city.

Since I have broken the fear barrier on sausage stuffing, I’m quite excited about making more. Merguez, you’re in my future. Maybe hot dogs too...

Homemade Lap Chang (Chinese Sausage)
Time: 1.5 days  |  Yield: 8 sausages, about 6” long each
Ready for drying.
1.5 lb pork shoulder
3/4 lb pork back fat
3 tbsp brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
3 tbsp whisky
1 tbsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 tbsp water
about 5’ sausage casings

Cube the pork and fat into 1” or slightly smaller cubes. Grind with the coarse setting of your meat grinder, or chop into 1/4” cubes (tedious work, one would assume).

Combine all of the ingredients, except the hog casings and mix well in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day stuff the meat into the casings per whatever directions your stuffer says. Twist into 8 links about 6” long.

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Arrange the sausages on a rack over a tray. Pierce both sides of each sausage a few times with a fork.

Bake the sausages for 5 hours. Let cool and then use in whatever recipe you wish.

They will keep dried and fresh for at least a week in the refrigerator, or a few months if frozen.


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