Store-bought sausage can be good, and some are very good. But rarely are they as satisfying as those you can make at home, because you can adapt homemade sausage to your own tastes. You can use the nice cuts of meat as opposed to the butcher’s scraps. I have included two most popular types of flavors – non-spicy one and spicy (‘Sichuan Mala’) one.
I’d like to use the cut from the shoulder of the pig, above the front leg (which is called the picnic ham); also called pork shoulder, shoulder butt, or Boston butt. Pork shoulder is heavily marbled and inexpensive, and thus the perfect cut for sausage making. Be sure your sausage including at least 25-30 percent fat. If your pork shoulder meat is too lean, see if you can buy back fat from your local butcher or Chinese/Asian supermarkets. This is the layer of fat from the pig’s back, usually the purest white and thickest fat on the pig’s body. Don’t be afraid of fat. As matter of fact, fat is fundamental to the quality of a sausage, its succulence and flavour.
Temperature is important here too. As it dries naturally it the open air, there is only certain time of the year which is ideally for sausage-making. In China, people start the preparations of making sausages or other charcuterie-making around the winter solstice when the highest temperature won’t reach 10C°.
A very important food safety note – this air-dried sausage needs to be cooked before consumption. This is very different from other types of western -style air-dried sausages which you can eat raw. There are a couple of reasons for this – there is no food preservative (such as Nitrites which are commonly used for store-bought sausages.). Also we use commercially raised pork for these preparations instead of farm-raised hogs, animals raised out of doors by sustainable farms. To cook Chinese sausages, you can easily steam them over high heat for 20 – 30 minutes. Once they are cool off, then cut them into thin slices and eat them as appetizers. You can also cook them along with a pot of rice or use them in fried rice.
To store the sausages, place them in the fridge for up to 1 months and freezer for 3 months.
Basic ingredients (this can make around 20 Chinese sausages, each around 20cm long)
- 2250 gram pork shoulder butt肩胛肉
- 2 meters natural hog casings 肠衣
You can choose one of the following two types of the seasonings. The seasoning recipes below are developed on the 2250 gram of the pork. If you decide to make both types of the sausages, just prepare a total of 4450g of the pork shoulder and 4 meters of the natural hog casings.
Seasonings for the non-spicy sausages
- 67g kosher salt, 3% of the quantity of the 2250 gram pork
- 67g rock sugar, well smashed, 3% of the quantity of the pork冰糖 (see the picture)
- 45g Chinese white spirit (“Bai Jiu’), 2% of the quantity of the pork中国白酒
- 3g ground white peppercorn白胡椒粉
- 30g light soy sauce
Seasonings for the spicy (Sichuan Mala) sausages
- 67g kosher salt, 3% of the quantity of the pork
- 67g chili pepper powder红辣椒粉
- 5g freshly ground Sichuan peppercorn现磨花椒粉
- 67g rock sugar, well smashed, 3% of the quantity of the pork冰糖
- 67g Chinese white spirit (“Bai Jiu’), 3% of the quantity of the pork中国白酒
- 50g dark soy sauce老抽
- a special sausage stuffing tool or funnel and chopsticks for stuffing the sausages; toothpick or needle for pricking the sausages to release trapped air
- Scissors and cotton lines for tying the sausages. And ropes for hanging the sausages.
- No matter what flavor you prefer, wash the pork and pat dry with kitchen towel.
- Cut the pork into thin and large pieces (around 6 cm long and 4 cm wide with a thickness of 0.4cm to 0.5cm) or Simply cut them into small cubes (a little bigger than dice) if the nozzle of your funnel tube is small. Then add white spirit (Chinese Baijiu) and mix well. If you cannot find Chinese baijiu, use other alcohol (such as Vodka) to replace. Mix all the other seasonings. Mix salt, sugar and white pepper. Massage with hands and make sure all the ingredients are well combined. Then set aside for 30 minutes.
- Soak the casings in water for 20 minutes or until supple, or up to two days. Then hold them open beneath cold running water to rinse out the insides.
- Then set up the equipment and wrap the skin over the funnel tube. Or you can use a funnel and a chopstick as plunger. Tie one end and then cut off the remaining skin.
- The equipment I use is somewhat like a semi-automatic plunger. The pork meat is pushed ahead when pushing down the plunger. If you do not have this equipment, use chopstick or wood stick to push the pork into the skin.
- Once finished, use a cotton line (around 10cm to 12 cm long) to tie and divide the sausage into small sections around 20cm long, so we can continue hanging and drying process.
- Pat dry with kitchen towel, then hang and dry. Use a small needle to prick the sausages to release trapped air. Left them dry in the open air for about 14 days or they’ve lost about 30% of the total weight. Dry under the sun is good. But try to avoid direct sun at all times because your sausages will become very dry. Touch is fairly reliable means of judging the doneness of sausages. Squeeze the sausages: it should feel stiff, almost hard, all the way through to the center.
- To cook Chinese sausages, you can easily steam them over high heat for 25 – 30 minutes. Once they are cool off, then cut them into thin slices and eat them as appetizers. You can also cook them along with a pot of rice or use them in fried rice.