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Sai Oua, Northern Thai Sausage, Might Just Be Your New Favorite Sausage

Sausage is a great all-purpose meat. A mixture of different cuts of meat (sometimes from the same animal, sometimes not) and spices, its utility is what makes it so great. You can grill sausage, you can smoke it, you can add it to soups and stews, or slap it on a nice hoagie roll with some peppers and onions. The possibilities are near-endless.

Sausage, too, can be found in pretty much every meat-eating society in the world, thanks to the necessity of using every part of the animal one can in as efficient a manner as possible. Whatever was left over – blood, organs, fat, et cetera – was mixed together, preserved with salt and spices, and stuffed into casings made from the animal’s intestines as a means of making one animal last longer. Skip ahead centuries and we continue to embrace linked meats.

What hangs some meat lovers up, though, is how sausage is made (hence the idiom). The thing is, it isn’t a scary or intense process. With modern butchery, it’s actually quite easy. So easy, in fact, that everyone should be able to do it. To facilitate that, we’ve found this delicious Thai sausage recipe that produces fragrant, spicy, amazing pork sausage. The recipe comes to us from Executive Chef Will Harris of Linger in Denver. Linger is a meat-lovers’ paradise of international proportions, with dishes ranging from the Thai Sai Ou below to a Bison Pastrami Reuben bao bun to Colorado Lamb Scotch Eggs, and more.

Northern Thai Sausage (Sai Oua) Recipe

Sai Oua Northern Thai Sausage Recipe Linger

(Yield 2 pounds of sausage. Feeds around 6 people) 

“This particular recipe is quite unique in the world of sausage making. The lengthy process can seem daunting, and yeah sure, there are easier recipes for good-tasting links, but I promise you —  it’s worth it!! Grill this amazing treat slowly over charcoal and you will experience an explosion of flavor and depth. At Linger, we serve ours over a bed of crispy rice me krop noodles tossed with a sour plum sauce, black ants, crickets, and fresh herbs.  The dish is finished with a spoon sauce made from lime juice, fish sauce, and tomatoes. If you aren’t up for cooking like us, don’t stress. This sausage is fantastic lightly grilled and served as is or on a bed of rice or greens.”

Ingredients for meat mix:

  • 1 lb pork belly cut into small dice
  • 1 lb freshly ground pork shoulder. (Harris recommends asking your local butcher to do it for you)
  • 1 c of chopped fresh cilantro (with stems)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp finely chopped kafir lime leaves
  • .25 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tsp quality kosher salt (Harris prefers Pacific Blue by SaltWorks– any quality kosher salt from your local market will do)
  • 1 lamb or pork casings (available upon request at your local butcher)

Ingredients for paste:

  • 2 oz ginger root pealed
  • 2 oz shallot
  • 1 oz garlic
  • 2 oz turmeric root (or 1 tbsp turmeric powder)
  • Zest of three limes
  • Small handful of cilantro
  • Pinch of salt

Method for the paste:

  1. Grill all of the ingredients slowly over a fire or on a gas grill until tender. Don’t burn them – just lightly brown. If you don’t have a grill, lightly brown them in a dry pan over medium heat and then finish in the oven until soft.
  2. Next, transfer to a mortar and pestle, add salt and pound until a paste is formed. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, use a small ceramic bowl and pound with a spoon. You will have a little more than necessary for 2 pounds of meat, but you can also add it all for maximum heat. It’s best to make this the night before.

Putting the sausage together:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix meat with the paste and all of the other ingredients. Make a small taster patty by slowly cooking it in a pan or on a grill.
  2. Once you have established a level of heat and spice that fancies your taste buds, you can stuff the sausage in lamb or pork casings.
  3. They’re ready to grill at this point. If you don’t have a sausage-stuffing device, do not worry. Hand shaping small patties of the mixture is also a smooth move and will cook up beautifully.

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