This is a beguiling sausage inspired by a similar recipe in Sheng Yang’s Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America, which is the first-ever English-language Hmong cookbook; if you’re not familiar with the Hmong, they are a Southeast Asian group of people who fought for us during the Vietnam War. Now many have settled here in California, as well as places like Minnesota and Wisconsin.
This sausage is country style, like the Hmong, who are farmers by nature. You want a coarse grind — not the superfine grind you need to make a good Vietnamese sausage.
As for ingredients, the dominant flavor besides the pork is ginger. Sheng Yang’s recipe calls for a full cup of minced ginger. I chose to cut that in half, but I grated the ginger instead.
I also added chopped fresh cilantro and thai basil, because I really like fresh herbs in my fresh sausages. I am guess Sheng would not mind.
Why wild boar? because I am me, and I have lots of it lying around in my freezer. I think wild boar goes better with this sausage, as traditional Hmong (really any Asian) pork is free-ranging and has a diverse appetite. Non-hunters should substitute in good-quality domestic pork. If you are in Sacramento, I’d buy it from John Bledsoe at either the Davis farmer’s market on Saturday or the Sacramento market on Sunday.
How to serve these links? On their own, with rice, in a stir fry, in a bowl of pho (one of the world’s greatest soups) or in a bahn mi sandwich (one of the world’s greatest sandwiches).
NOTE: If you are unfamiliar with making sausages at home, I wrote a good step-by-step on the technique over at my friend Elise’s site Simply Recipes. You can read it here.
Makes about 5 pounds, or about 25 sausages
- 3 1/2 pounds pork or wild boar
- 1 1/4 pound pork fat
- Juice of three limes
- 35 grams (about 2 tablespoons plus a teaspoon) Kosher salt
- 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) Instacure No. 1 (optional)
- 1 head chopped fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh thai basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 5-10 chopped fresh thai green chiles
- hog casings
- Chop the meat and fat into chunks of about 1-inch across, then mix the garlic, herbs and spices together and toss with the meat and fat.
- Chill the meat and fat until it is almost frozen by putting it in the freezer for an hour or so.
- Take out some hog casings and set in a bowl of very warm water.
- Grind through your meat grinder (you can use a food processor in a pinch, but you will not get a fine texture) using the coarse die. If your room is warmer than 69 degrees, set the bowl for the ground meat into another bowl of ice to keep it cold.
- Add the lime juice and mix thoroughly either using a Kitchenaid on low for 60-90 seconds or with your (very clean) hands. This is important to get the sausage to bind properly. Once it is mixed well, put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
- Stuff the sausage into the casings all at once. Twist off links by pinching the sausage down and twisting it, first in one direction, and then with the next link, the other direction. Or you could tie them off with butcher’s string.
- Hang the sausages in a cool place for 4-8 hours (the colder it is, the longer you can hang them). If it is warm out, hang for one hour. Once they have dried a bit, put in the fridge until needed. They will keep for at least a week in the fridge.
- If you are freezing the sausages, wait a day before doing so. This will tighten up the sausages and help them keep their shape in the deep-freeze.