During our trip to Asia we stopped for three days in Bangkok. The vast range of tasty street food in the Thai capital is quite overwhelming at first, so to combat this we compiled a list of Thai specialities that we wanted to try. One of these was something found on pretty much every corner – Thai Sausage.
Now, I say Thai Sausage because not all are the same. The one i’m making today is the Northern version, made with red curry paste and with a predominant lemongrass flavour. Other varieties commonly found within Bangkok include sweet versions and also fermented. All of which are grilled over charcoal.
We first tried the Northern Thai version at Or Tor Kor Market – a market frequented by the Thai upper class. There you can find the whole back catalogue of Thai dishes from satay to durian fruit and even Thai crepes with egg yolk candy.
Recently, I received a kit from Spicely Does It which gave me the chance to make my own chorizo sausages. The machine, however, is perfect for making all sorts of sausages. So with that in mind, plus a spare casing, I set about making a home-version of the famous Northern Thai Sausage, here are the ingredients:
500g Minced Pork
500g Pork Belly or Pork Belly Slices
2 tbsp Red Thai Curry Paste
2 tbsp Caster Sugar
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
3cm piece of Ginger, peeled and sliced
2 sticks of Lemongrass, sliced (lower fat part only)
2-3 strips of Lime zest, finely sliced
Small handful of coriander roots
2 Shallots, peeled and sliced
Hog casings (optional), pre-soaked if needed
You may have noticed that the hog casings are optional in this recipe, that’s because not all of you will have a sausage machine. If you are without one, don’t panic. You can simply mould the meat around a skewer and grill them kebab style.
To begin with, Add the shallots, lemongrass, coriander roots, ginger and lime zest to a pestle and mortar. Grind the ingredients down to a smooth paste and set aside. Dice up the belly slices into small cubes, removing any tough skin.
Place the pork mince and diced belly pieces into a large bowl. Add in the sugar, fish sauce, red curry paste and the contents of the pestle and mortar. Get your hands in and mix well (I did try a spoon but hands really are the best for this).
Now cling film the bowl and place it in the fridge for 2-3 hours. The mixture benefits from being really cold before working through the machine.
Once the mix has chilled, set up the machine and then work the casings onto the end. I was working with dried casings which were pre-folded. This made life a whole lot easier – all the more reason to invest in one of Spicely Does It’s machines!
Practice definitely makes perfect with sausage making. I found leaving around 5cm at the end of the casing before filling helps to eliminate air pockets. This also allows you to tie off the casing easily at the end.
Of course, if you are without hog casings and a sausage machine, simply soak a few wooden skewers for around an hour in water. Take each skewer and a handful or so of the sausage mixture. Pack it tightly around the skewer and lay on a tray or plate. Wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge until needed.
Working and plunging the mixture through the machine was quite simple. I just made sure to keep pulling the sausage meat back towards the nozzle to make the small sausage into a larger one.
The whole process took less than 20 minutes and produced an amazing looking final product. I twisted the links around in the centre to create two separate sausages and returned them back to the fridge until needed.
Here’s a lesson in firing up a barbecue. Grab yourself a chimney starter here and then place a fire lighter cube in the bottom. Fill the starter with charcoal (I used around half a chimney) and light the cube. Give it about 20 minutes and as if by magic you will be the proud owner of fully lit, grey, ashy charcoal.
Tip the charcoal into one side of the barbecue, this is known as the ‘indirect’ method. It will give you a hot side and a cooler side. All that’s left to do is to skewer the sausages in the shape of an X and lay them onto the grill, opposite the hot coals. If you have any wood handy, pre-soak it and place it onto the coals to create a light smoke.
All in all you’re looking for around a 3-4 hour smoke and for the centre of the sausages to be 74C (165F) in temperature. I also found that spritzing the sausages every hour or so with water in a spray bottle ensures both an even colour and avoids anything drying out.
I got really excited with the final product, the appearance was practically identical to what we had in Bangkok. Cutting into the sausages you can see the cubes of the pork fat from the belly, adding texture and preventing the inside going dry. The smoky aroma blended with lemongrass was heavenly, it took me right back to Thailand in that one moment.
As an added bonus I decided to make a Sriracha Mayonnaise by blending 1 tbsp Sriracha with 2 tbsp Mayonnaise.
The taste? It feels strange to say it, but EXACTLY the same as in Bangkok. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a spicy, firecracker of a banger but full of flavour and with the smoking on the grill there’s the added bonus of that for flavour. I’m so glad that I could recreate this Thai favourite and I hope that it makes an appearance on your grills this summer.