If you have been to China before during autumn or winter, you will know that there are very strong winds (North wind or 北风) which are chilly. Your skin will soon become very dry and itchy. You are always advised to use moisturizer to moisten you skin such that your skin will not be overly dry.
You may be surprised why I started off my post with this sentence, the rationale is simple, you need this type of CHILLY, DRY and STRONG WIND to prepare this cured sausage. It is this period that most Chinese families are preparing their cured meat be it sausages, cured duck or pork belly during this period of the year. They will hang the all the cured products in front of their house for the meat to dry naturally.
But to prepare these sausages in Singapore’s hot and humid weather, chances of failure are very high and the sausage can become contaminated and turn bad very easily. Some recipe even requires you to use certain cure salt but I did not use this at all.
I monitored very closely this batch of sausages. I started off by hanging my sausages in the balcony. Only after one day, I felt uncomfortable as I have a strong sense that it will turn bad as the air circulation in my apartment is not as strong as those in China which I am familiar. I am hoping every hour that there are strong winds but the winds are soft and only come at certain hour…
I started to worry and I thought it might work if I placed the sausage in the oven and set the temperature at 30 degree Celsius. Well it might or might not work. After in my oven for another 8 hours, I believed it will not work because 30 degree Celsius is well above the China weather of 10-15 degree Celsius or lower. In addition, after 8 hours, it seems that the meat is still very soft and I am wondering how much electricity bills I must foot if I dried in the oven.
After due consideration, I decided to try air drying in the refrigerator. I put the sausage in the refrigerator without a cover and let it dry until the hardness I want. I knew this have a much greater chance because most food put in refrigerator will become very dry if there is no cover. In addition, it is less easily to turn bad due to minimal exposure with the humid air. It took me exactly 22 days to get a rather firm structure as in this illustration.
I am so nervous when I was cutting my sausages. I am afraid that it was not firm at the core. I am worry about the taste but it proofs me wrong. The taste and texture really suit my taste bud and the effort is worth it. Unlike those sold in the stores, I find the texture is much firmer than the store bought. Once you start biting into it, the aroma penetrates your mouth. The only thing that I thought I should improve is the sweetness. I prefer it slightly sweeter.
As this is a trial preparation with great chances of failure, I only prepared about 300 grams of minced pork. I used a very basic recipe that uses 4 simple ingredients: Chinese cooking wine, salt, sugar and minced pork. To enhance the colour, I have used some red yeast rice powder which is optional.
Just like making western sausages, you will need some sausage casing and a minced meat injector. You can easily do one at home if you do not have the attachment but cutting off the top part of a mineral water bottle. As for the casing, you can buy it in the internet purchase at Taobao website or QQ10 website.
I believed I need not to introduce this well like Chinese sausages and are common ingredients in Chinese cooking be it in fried rice, steamed or even fry with an egg omelette and not forgetting the famous clay pot chicken rice that are common in the region. Homemade taste different from store bought and not all store bought are nice or suits my taste buds. It is expensive and there is a risk that what you get is something that you do not like. In addition, there are many rumours concerning commercially produced sausages used nitrites as preservatives to prevent bacterial growth and this chemical can evolve into another compound that cause cancer in the body. Well it is a rumour but is it not better if you can do it at home?
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 3 medium size Chinese Sausage
- 300 grams of minced pork *
- 5 grams of salt
- 10 grams of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of red yeast rice powder
- 2 tablespoons of high Chinese cooking wine (best with alcohol content 50% and above)
- 1 sausage casing of about 1 m long
- 1 homemade sausage injector **
- A few sewing needles
- Some cloth strings
* It is advisable to use 60% lean meat and 40% pork fats. The meat shall only be minced once and should not be too fine. If prefer, can use hand to cut the meat into 1 cm cubes.
** Cut the mineral water into two and retain the top part and use as a sausage injector. You may need to find a stick (such as rolling pin) that can push through the mineral water bottle’s opening.
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Soak the sausage casing in cold water for at least 10 minutes until soft. Wash and drain. Tie one end with a knot.
For the other open end of the sausage casing, attach it sausage injector opening. Push the sausage casing inwards as much as possible. If possible, push all the casing into the bottle connector until the knot is near the opening. If this is not possible, you can cut the casing into two and do this twice.
Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir until well mixed. You can also put some of the filling in your mouth to taste the flavour but spit out after tasting. Adjust your salt and sugar if necessary.
- Take some fillings and put it into the sausage injector, use a stick or hand (not advise unless you wear gloves) and push the fillings into the casing. If there are any air trapped inside the sausage, use a needle to lightly poke the hole to let the air escape. Push at tight as possible but shall not be overly forceful as the casing can break.
- Decide your desired length and use a string to tie the sausage. Check for any trapped air and poke the casing. Perform the same until all the fillings are stuffed.
Hang the sausage in an airy area until it is firm or hard to touch which shall take at least 3 weeks. Alternatively, and recommended method of air drying is to put the sausage in a box uncovered. Put in the refrigeration chiller section. Let it air dry in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks or until the sausage is firm and hard. During the process, you can poke more holes to force out the trapped air and get a more compact sausage. The colour will darken over times.
Through this first trial, it is likely that I will prepare some more soon. The rationale is very simple, with these simple ingredients, it yields the taste that I liked. I know exactly what is inside the sausage and not to mention lots of rumours circulating about eating preserved food. I feel better when I ate my own homemade Chinese sausages.
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