Sai ua or Chiang Mai sausage could be the best sausage you’ve never had!
I acquired my love (or obsession depending on how you look at it) with Thai food when I landed in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand for the first time back in 2009. I’d never heard of Chiang Mai before I booked my flight, I just typed in ‘best food in Thailand’ into Google and that’s where it told me to go!
As I do when I get into any new city on my travels I decided to head straight to the local food market which in this case is Chiang Mai Gate Market or Talat Pratu as it’s known by the locals. I feel like to get a real feel for a place you’ve got to eat like the locals! It was at this market I first found arguably the most popular snack in northern Thailand, Sai Ua or Chiang Mai sausage! It’s shaped in a coil like a traditional English Cumberland but that is where the similarities end! Chiang Mai sausage just tastes of Thailand! Chillis, lemongrass, lime leaves, garlic and galangal. All the classic flavours you associate with Thai food.
If you haven’t been, It’s almost worth booking up to go there yourself on the strength of these little rockets! Before you do though I’ve got a recipe I’ve been working on that’s dead simple and will save you a few hundred quid on the airfare!
I’m gonna be adding my own little twist on these by making them into mini kofte on a stick. If you happen to have sausage casings lying about, by all means, you can make these proper sausages but this recipe is easy and perfect for an impromptu barbecue if the English weather ever allows for one. If it doesn’t just stick them under the grill!
I’ve included galangal in the recipe but as I’ve had plenty of sai ua without galangal but with ginger instead, this is one of the rare times you can substitute one for the other.
Either chop the ginger or galangal, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, lime leaves, red chilli and coriander root finely and pound in a pestle and mortar or blitz in a food processor with enough oil to get it moving until you have a coarse paste.
Mix into the pork well with the rest of the ingredients . Let it rest for the flavours to penetrate for at least an hour.
Mould your pork mix onto the soaked skewers. You should end up with around 20. Put them in the fridge to firm up for around an hour.
A little tip..... Always keep your hands a little wet when making kebabs or meatballs, it makes it a lot easier to handle.
Heat your grill or barbecue to medium low. If you're using charcoal pile one side of the barbecue higher with charcoal than the other. Start with the smaller side.
Cook for around 12-15 minutes on low until cooked through and starting to colour. Turn the skewers every couple of minutes and move them around the grill to ensure even cooking. If the meat is burning too quickly you can snip off any burnt bits with scissors. You don't want any real coulour until the 10 - 12 minute mark!
Once they are nearly cooked through, turn up the heat and brown for a few minutes to finish them off.
Serve with the cucumber, cabbage or lettuce and roasted peanuts.