It’s an excellent sausage – the perfect thing to fry up with some vegetables, and incredible to the top over some Cantonese clay pot rice. But despite its inherent deliciousness we’ve always hesitated to use the ingredient in our videos, because. quite frankly?
How To Make Chinese Food Authentic Cantonese Sausage?
We’ve always been pretty disappointed with the quality of the Lap Cheong available outside of Asia.
See, in most Western countries, there’s basically always been pretty much a straight up ban on importing pork products from China.
So – the Lap Cheong available in the west is produced in the west, and in our personal opinion those big North American brands just… haven’t made very good Lap Cheong.
Now I know. That sentiment always seems to get a bit of pushback. So before we show you how to make some sausage, lemme hand it off to Steph real quick who’ll teach you a bit about what to look for in a great Lap Cheong.
So there are a lot of ways to judge a Lap Cheong – personally, I’d put them in three main categories. The bad, the proper, and the good.
The difference between bad ones and proper ones is how they handle the lean.
Bad Lap Cheong are a meat emulsion, with a couple fat cubes hanging there awkwardly.
While the difference between a proper Lap Cheong and a good Lap Cheong is how they handle the fat.
For a great Lap Cheong, when you cook it, the fat will kind of become transparent, and it all comes together into this one snappy bite when you bite into it. As we call it, “爽口无渣” in Cantonese.
This is handled by using proper cuts of meat instead of scraps, properly drying it, and in some cases even starting off with candied pork fat, Bing Yuk.
So right, we’re gonna be going that candied pork fat route, starting from the ham cut of the pig.
Which’s got a nice blend of lean and fat. Try to get a slab that’s about one third fat, because we’ll be separating this into 350 grams of lean and 150 grams of fat.
Then once that’s good and separate, dice your lean into rough pea sized pieces, about half centimeter by half centimeter.
Of course, full disclosure that dicing this pork is a bit of a pain, but do not be lazy and just grind it – the dice is a critical component of the that signature Lap Cheong texture.
So next, do the same move dicing the fat – same deal, pea sized… half centimeter by half centimeter, and this is stuff good to prep.
Fat up first just transfer it over to some boiling water and give it a quick blanch for about two minutes. Then rinse it under running water and drain.
Then to candy that stuff, to a bowl first toss in a thin layer of granulated sugar, then top that with a thin layer of pork fat. Then go with another layer of sugar, another layer of fat, and repeat until you’ve reached the top.
Now just cover that up, toss it in the fridge overnight, and next let’s marinate the lean.
Now, at this point for your marinade you’ve got settle on your liquor of choice.
The wine fragrance here is important and is generally sorted in one of two ways.
In the Guangzhou style, a clean tasting high end baijiu called ‘fenjiu’ is generally used, and that’s what we’ll be using today.
In the Hong Kong style meanwhile, the liquor of choice is rose wine – and also a perfectly delicious route to go.
So just marinate your diced lean with 7.5 grams or about a half tablespoon of salt, 30 grams or two tablespoons of sugar, 3 grams or about a half teaspoon of Prague Powder 1, 20 grams or four teaspoons of light soy sauce, and 15 grams or one tablespoon of fenjiu or rose wine.
Now, quick Prague Powder-related disclaimer. For anyone that’s never worked with curing salts, a gentle reminder that consuming even a quarter cup of this stuff at once can literally kill you, that’s why they dye it pink.
So do keep this away from kids, dogs, your roommate chad, and basically anyone that can’t be trusted to keep themselves alive.
Now just give that a real good mix, cover, and let that marinate in the fridge overnight.
Next day now, let’s make some sausage. And to do so, of course, you’ll need some dried sausage casings.
Now because we’re outside and working over a small little table and tray, we’re gonna be cutting our casing into four foot and a half long pieces to make eight sausages total, but assuming that you’re working in, like, a normal person’s kitchen feel free to just cut that out into one long piece.
Now just give that a soak in warm water for 20 minutes to soften that right up.
As that’s soaking then, let’s put the final touches on the filling. To do so, just move your now-candied pork fat to a strainer and rinse all that sugar right off.
Drain it for a minute or two, then add that back in with the lean.
Now just add in 75 grams of water and mix all of that thoroughly together, for about five minutes or so, and now we can stuff some sausage.
Now, in an ideal world we would be the proud owners one of those really cool sausage stuffing machines, but we’re not, so this’ll take a bit of elbow grease.
Using just a bog standard funnel then, toss the casing on the bottom and scrunch it up the spout, leaving about two worth inches of casing at the end unscrunched.
Now quick warning sometimes your casing might start to stick a bit in this whole scrunching process, so adding about a teaspoon of filling can help lube things right up.
Now just tie an overhand knot at the end of it, and add about a quarter of your filling into your funnel.
Now gently push the filling into the casing using the wide end of a chopstick and if you’re feeling a bit masochistic you can watch a whole 30 minutes worth of uncut footage of this – start to finish – up here.
But just keep stuffing that until you’ve got only a couple inches worth of casing remaining, tie another overhand knot, and continue to patiently work through your sausages.
Then once that’s all done, grab two toothpicks and start to some poke holes in the sausage, working down the casing, puncturing it every half inch or so.
Then turn that 90 degrees, and repeat – this poking process ensures that the moisture can evaporate and escape during the drying process.
Then, to separate those into individual Lap Cheongs, cut out eight inches worth of baker’s twine and tie it in a loop.
Because we’re aiming for eight sausages we’ll just separate each one of these guys in half.so lay that twine under the sausage, loop it through the loop, tighten, and that’s it.
Give it a good rinse with warm water, and these are good to dry.
Now, the traditional way to dry these would be to first lay it near some embers to dry out the surface and then hang it out for a week or so during a cool, dry time of year.
That said, we’ve got an oven with a neat little drying function, and the Guangdong climate can get pretty finicky, so forgive us for cheating nature a bit.
But either way, first pat your sausage dry with some paper towels, and if using an oven like us, first toss it in for 24 hours at 50 degrees Celcius with the fan on.
After three hours it’ll start to look obviously dryer like this, after a whole day it should be nice and wrinkled.
And while this could theoretically be used at this point, it’s best to then hang it up in a cool dry sunny place for at least three more days.
And three days later now, your lap cheong is ready. Good to consume in your recipe of choice, or even to just steam over a bit of white rice.
In the Anglosphere online, I often see Lap Cheong referred to as “Chinese Sausage”.
But, Lap Cheong itself is really just Cantonese sausage. Because in China? There’s a whole world of sausages, from the heavily smoked ones in Sichuan, to the Kielbasa-like Harbin sausages in the Northeast, to the horse meat sausages in [Xinjiang, not Inner Mongolia].
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