Why It Works
- The trick to cooking fresh lap cheong is to carefully monitor the browning process, as the sugar content in the meat makes the slices of sausage easy to scorch.
- Rice is a perfect vehicle for this sweet and salty sausage, as it soaks up all of the rendered fat and flavor.
If you visit any decent-sized Chinese market you'll find an impressive array of Chinese sausage, known commonly by its Cantonese name lap cheong. The term, in fact, is generic and covers a broad range of sausage, both fresh and smoked, and extends to sausages from Vietnam and Thailand. Some kinds will be made with liver, some will be dry to the point of rock-hardness, some will use soy sauce and others, a more straightforward mixture of sugar and fatty pork.
What unifies all kinds of Chinese sausage is an extremely sweet flavor and an emulsified texture that makes even the fresher links taste like meat candy.
When shopping for Chinese sausage it's helpful to keep in mind what dish you want to make. While the links will vary in degrees of sweetness and dryness, the smoked, shriveled kind of Chinese sausage tends to be too dry to use in lieu of regular sausage. The driest of the bunch is so firm that soaking the links in water, as you would do for hard Chinese bacon, is the best way to bring out the flavors and textures of the sausage.
Due to the meat's dryness and intensity in flavor, the sausage is often used as a flavor component in other dishes. Links are diced and rendered, until only a hint of the actual sausage is left. Chinese sausage shows up in turnip cake, for instance, and if you frequent the dim sum carts, you'll notice it in a variety of other snacks like the various deep-fried taro root concoctions.
If you'd prefer something that tastes closer to what we think of as a juicy sausage stuffed in a crispy casing, then look for the fresh variety of Chinese sausage. Significantly less shriveled and softer, the links will feel greasy and contain discernible chunks of pearly-white fat. Because of the higher-than-average fat and sugar content, this kind of Chinese sausage browns quickly and renders a lot of lard, making it an ideal component in stir-fries.
While slices of Chinese sausage are good in any stir-fry, my favorite way to use them is in a rice or noodle dish, so the staple soaks ups the fat rendered from the sausage. Used in fried rice, the sausages impart a rich taste to each kernel.
The only trick to using fresh lap cheong is to carefully monitor the browning process, as the sugar content in the meat makes the slices of sausage easy to scorch. Otherwise, just keep your fried rice simple: when the sausage is this unbelievably fatty and sweet, adding too many ingredients to the wok would just be overkill.
2 or 3 links Chinese sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cold cooked rice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Finely chopped green onion or cilantro
Add slices of Chinese sausage to wok and slowly cook over medium-low heat to render as much fat as possible. Move slices of sausage around in the wok, taking care they don't scorch.
Remove sausage and all but 1 teaspoon of the rendered lard from wok. The extra lard can be discarded or set aside for another use. Add minced garlic and stir around to brown over low heat.
Add rice and the rest of the ingredients to wok and stir around until the grains are evenly mixed and heated. Add sausage slices back to wok and stir to mix. Serve immediately, garnishing with green onion or cilantro.
If you're using dried Chinese sausage, soak the links in water to bring out the flavors and textures of the sausage.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 12g||15%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||19%|
|Total Carbohydrate 47g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||9%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|