We foraged for exciting Asian ingredients readily available in Singapore, to discover their traditional uses and ways to incorporate them into Western home cooking. This ingredient is Chinese sausage.
Cantonese name: lap cheong or lap chong
What is it?
The term Chinese sausage encompasses the many different types of sausage originating from China. These tend to be mottled red (meat) and white (fat) and are usually thinner and smaller than Western sausages. They range from hard, dried smoked pork sausage scented with rose-flavoured wine to those made with duck or pork liver, either fresh or cooked.
Flavour depends on the type of sausage, but the predominant flavour is salty-sweet; they can also be smoky, or spicy.
Where do you find it?
Sold in packets and often in pairs, Chinese sausage is found in most supermarkets in the dry goods Asian section, and in wet markets.
Chinese sausage is popular in cuisine throughout China, where it’s used to add flavour to steamed or fried rice, dim sum, noodles or fried vegetables, most commonly cabbage. It is also popular in the rest of Southeast Asia:
- Recently Singapore has been producing innovative Chinese sausages that are lower in fat and sodium, and some special high-fibre brands.
- In Vietnam, Chinese sausages made from pork, or leaner versions made from chicken, are used in omelettes.
- In Taiwan, the sausages are often sweeter and are referred to as “fragrant sausages”.
- In Thailand, a spicy, sweet salad is made with seared Chinese sausage, cucumber, chilli, lime and herbs
Cook it at home: Clay Pot Chicken and Rice
Coarse clay pots (also known as sandy pots because of their colour and texture) with a brown interior glaze are favoured for cooking a range of home-style Southern Chinese dishes. This combination of chicken, mushrooms, Chinese sausages and rice is real comfort food. If you don’t have a proper clay pot (they’re widely available in Chinese stores internationally), use any other heatproof ceramic or cast-iron casserole dish.
- 300g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 400g long-grain rice, washed and thoroughly drained
- 1 heaped tablespoon finely shredded ginger
- 4 dried black mushrooms, soaked in hot water to soften, stems discarded
- 2 dried Chinese sausages, cut diagonally into 1cm-thick slices
- 1 tablespoon crisp-fried shallots
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onion
- 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine, preferably Shao Hsing
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then add the chicken pieces. Mix well and leave to marinate for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a large clay pot. Add the rice and stir over medium heat for about a minute until well coated. Add sufficient water to cover the rice by 2cm. Bring to the boil over high heat, then cook uncovered for 5 minutes until the water has been absorbed and small craters appear on the surface of the rice.
3. Add ginger, marinated chicken pieces and mushrooms, pushing well into the rice. Layer the sausages on top, cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes; do not remove the lid while the rice is cooking.
4. Stir the rice with a fork or chopstick, cover and cook over very low heat for about 15 minutes more, until the chicken is done and the rice is dry. Garnish with crisp-fried shallots and spring onions before serving.
Try it in town
Try this Chinese sausage clay-pot dish at Geylang Claypot Rice at 639 Geylang Road. 6744 4574 | geylangclaypot.com
This recipe is taken from a lovely cookbook called The Little Malaysian Cookbook by Wendy Hutton. (Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine)
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