Fermented Thai sausage

On the edge of pasteurization

I recently developed a slight case of eczema on my hand, my naturopath recommend fermented food to improve the productivity of my gut, as often skin conditions are gut related. As I already eat a lot of fermented food, I thought I would also include some higher risk foods – those on edge of pasteurization. I was hopeful this two pronged approach would not only cure my eczema, but also condition my already sensitive stomach for a future trip to Bangkok. My well documented sensitive stomach is a constant source of frustration for me as a food writer.

Thanks to pregnant women, the internet is full of foods that people with compromised immune systems should avoid. Sausages and other deli meats feature prominently. For my diet, I decided to take these foods and give them a Thai influence.

On my first trip to Thailand, I remember seeing strings of cute ball-like sour pork sausages in Udon (sai-grop-brio-Udon), but was never game to eat them. Some stalls sold freshly made sausages, but the more popular stalls left them to slightly ferment in the heat – overnight or longer. They seemed to have so much more character after fermentation. Grilled and eaten with chillies, sliced ginger and pickled cabbage, all of which help to cut through the fattiness, these sausages and accompaniments were just the high risk superfood I was after.

The sausages are easy to make with a mix of ground pork, pork skin and fat, cooked sticky glutinous rice, fresh garlic, salt, sugar and bird’s eye chilies. The mixture is stuffed into natural hog casings, tied off into one or two inch balls, and left to ferment for three to five days at about 30°C and 50% humidity. The fermentation process enables the growth of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, mostly lactobacilli, which make the sausages sour. The salt, at about 3% of the mix, allows lactic acid producing bacteria to feed on the rice and sugar, while the growth of spoiling and dangerous (pathogenic) bacteria is seriously inhibited. The result is perfectly fermented and delicious meat.

I decided to make these sausages for my next dinner party, which was set to have a ‘dangerous Thai’ theme – full of traditional fermented food and drinks, all ripened by lactic acid bacteria. Foods like phak-gard-dong, pickled fermented black mustard leaves and khaomak a sweetened glutinous rice fermented to give the special taste and flavor of alcohol. That was until my good friend announced she was expecting her first child – instantly reducing my Thai feast to an overdone rack of lamb, roast potatoes, and obsessively washed salad greens. Safe food.

I’m still yet to try these sausages. Oh well, there’s always Bangkok.

What are some of the fermented foods you enjoy?

I’m now on Twitter and Facebook. Follow, like or subscribe to the sad pig for authentic food and stories of provenance. I’d also like to thank Avlxyz for making his beautiful photo of the sai-grop-brio available under a Creative Commons license.