Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thai Garlic Rice Sausage

Anyone who has been fortunate enough to go to Thailand and taste Sai Grok Issaan , probably remembers the weird thrill she had biting into these morsels.  Rather than simply being seasoned meat and fat stuffed in intestines (and who doesn't love that?) these sausages contain prodigious amounts of sticky rice and garlic.  These are popular around train and bus stations, as commonplace in Thailand as tahu Sumendang is in Java.  Despite that popularity, or perhaps because of it--immigrants seem to disdain putting the common foods on their menus in the US--you'll be hard pressed to find these in a Thai restaurant in the United States.  That's a shame because they are delicious.

These can be formed into normal, garlic sausage-sized links, or smaller, ping pong ball-sized bites as I did.  For a lunch or picnic, I'd favor the larger links.  To serve as a starter or a component to a meal comprised of several other dishes, I prefer the smaller size.  Great on their own, they also are good wrapped in lettuce and herbs.  Both Thai sweet chili sauce and Vietnamese nuoc cham  go well with this sausage. 

The recipe is adapted from ones found in Hot Sour Salty Sweet and vatch's thai street food. The former uses sticky rice; the latter uses a greater quantity of jasmine rice.  I used sticky rice, but more in the ratio that Vatch suggests.

1 TBS minced cilantro root/stems (you can often find cilantro with roots at Asian markets)
10--12 ounces pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes, then ground
3--4 cups cooked sticky rice, cold
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
sausage casing

With your hands, mix the ingredients well.  This is a little like kneading a stiff dough, folding and refolding to amalgamate the pork, rice, cilantro and garlic.  Then, feed this mixture into your meat grinder (I have a small hand-cranked grinder that is sufficient, if frustrating, for this purpose) and grind using a 3/16 or 1/4 inch plate.  Stuff into the casing and twist off into links of the desired size.

Grill over medium-low direct heat, turning frequently.  Serve with lettuce and fresh herbs and either Thai sweet chili sauce or nuoc cham. 

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