Hmong sausage is a coarsely-ground, country style sausage, usually pork, rich with Southeast Asian flavors like ginger, cilantro, chiles and garlic.
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 with us during the Vietnam War.
Now many have settled here in California, as well as places like Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Hmong sausage is country style, like most Hmong people, who were primarily farmers in their native Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Burma. They’re also famous hunters, and Yang’s book also has some great game recipes I’ve adapted here, such as Hmong squirrel stew and Hmong-style larb.
As with most country sausage, you will want a coarse grind — not the superfine grind you use with Vietnamese sausage. I prefer this, as the Vietnamese sausage just seems a bit too bouncy for me.
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 down, but you could go with more.
I also added chopped fresh cilantro, because I really like fresh herbs in my fresh sausages. I am guessing Sheng would not mind.
How to serve Hmong sausage? 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).
Once made, they will keep a week in the fridge, and they freeze well. You could smoke them if you’d like, too, although I’ve never eaten them that way; they are usually grilled.
Hmong Style Sausages
- 5 pounds fatty pork shoulder or belly
- 36 grams (about 2 tablespoons plus a teaspoon) Kosher salt
- 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
- 4 chopped green onions
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 5-10 chopped fresh thai green chiles
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- hog casings
- Chop the meat and fat into chunks of about 1-inch across, mix with the salt and set in the fridge overnight; this helps the sausage bind better.
- Mix all the herbs and spices together and mix with the meat and fat. Put the meat, the blade, die and auger from the meat grinder into the freezer for 1 hour.
- Take out some hog casings and set in a bowl of very warm water.
- Grind the meat through a coarse (6mm or 6.5mm) die. If the meat is any warmer that about 35 degrees Fahrenheit, put it back in the freezer until it cools below this point.
- Pour all three liquids over the meat and mix well with your (very clean) hands for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. You want the meat to bind to itself and form one sticky, cohesive mass.
- Stuff the sausage into the casings. Do this in large coils first, and be sure not to stuff the casings too tight at the outset. When all the meat is in casings, twist off links by pinching the sausage down and twisting it away from you. Go down the coil and pinch off another link. Twist off this link toward you. Keep doing this for the whole batch. Or, you could tie them off with butcher’s string.
- Hang the sausages in a cool place for a few 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.