Although most people don’t know this, the Chinese have a long history of making charcuterie. Lap Cheong (臘腸) or Chinese Sausage is the most famous one of all. Based on the region you go to in Asia, they will have slight variations in size, texture and sweetness. Taiwanese even have their own version called the Taiwanese Sausage. You will often find them being sold at the street cooked with Charcoal. They have a sweet smokey flavor that is unlike any western sausage. Chinese Sausage is one of the most widely used ingredients in Asia. You can find it in Fried Rice, Zong Zi, Lou Mai Gai, Bao or even eaten by itself. It is no wonder that it is considered to be a staple in Chinese Cuisine.
Lap Cheong aka Chinese Sausage Quick Summary
|Categories||Lap Cheong or Chinese Sausage|
|Taste||A sweet and Savory Flavor Profile|
|Uses||Used in Fried Rice or Eaten Whole|
|Health and Nutrition||High in Saturated Fat and Sugar. Not recommended to eat daily.|
|Shelf Life||Long Shelf Life, can last pretty much indefinitely, although it is recommended to follow manufacturer guide.|
|Thoughts||One of the best sausage around. It is versatile and delicious. A very big departure from the American and European sausage. It is Highly recommended.|
|Recommended Best Chinese Sausage||Chinese Style Sausage (Lap Xuong Thuong Hang)|
Lap Cheong Taste
Lap Cheong is completely different from a western style of sausage which is savory and salty. The most famous Chinese Sausage manufacturer in North America is Kam Yan Jen, they have two version of Lap Cheong. One is the traditional one which is sweet and savory. The other one has liver added to it. It has a bit of a offal taste which can put off some people. You can usually identify it based on the yellow color packaging. The regular version is white.
How to Cook Lap Cheong
The taste of Lap Cheong will change based on how you prepare it. If you steam it, the sausage will plump up and become a sweet and juicy sausage. Frying it, will caramelize the sugar in the sausage and give it a strong smoky flavor.
One of my favorite way of cooking Lap Cheong is to use a rice cooker. All you need to do is add the sausage when you cook rice with an additional 1/4 cup of water. What happens is that the fat from the sausage will seep out and flavor the rice. Once the rice is cooked, you can remove the sausage and slice it diagonally. Pair that with some scrambled egg with vegetables and you have a very easy hands off meal.
When you fry the sausage, you have to be careful of the sugar content. It will burn easier than American Sausage, one off second then its charred. Although this technique is a little more hands on, the flavor is phenomenal.
Chinese Dim Sum restaurant also use this commonly in their Lo Mai Gai (糯米雞). That is a glutinous rice with chicken, Chinese Sausage and Salted Duck Egg, it is typically wrapped in Lotus Leaf. If you ever go to a Dim Sum Restaurant, it is a must have item. There are other variations of of this where it looks more like a rectangle, they use mung beans, pork belly and salted duck eggs in those.
Another way that a lot of Hong Kong Chef make use of the sausage is in their Clay Pot Rice (煲仔飯). They would cook the rice, vegetables, meats and the sausage in the clay pot so that all the flavor will meld. The rice on the bottom will eventually form a crust, giving it a crunchy chew. It is truly a wonderful dish that you must try.
Where to Buy Lap Cheong/Chinese Sausage
You can find it at any Chinese Supermarket, Meat Shop or even street stalls in Taiwan. Usually the meat shops are hand made and you can find it hanging on their window sills. The version you get really depends on your taste. It will vary from manufacturer and shops.
In Taiwan, the street stalls sausage are a bit more plump and smokey due to the way they bbq it.
You can also find the Kam Yan Jen Sausage on amazon even though its a little more expensive there. If you have a local Asian Supermarket, I recommend that you buy it from there. Use amazon if you do not have one close by or just don’t have the time.
Chinese Sausage Ingredients and Nutrition
The ingredients in Chinese Sausage varies based on the manufacturer. However, here is a general ingredient list that typically used.
Pork, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Rice Cooking Wine, Rice Flour, Soy Sauce. Crushed Pepper and Food Coloring.
Some manufacturer will probably put some kind of preservative to make it last longer. If you buy the one that is completely dried out, those will probably last a long time even without the preservatives.
As with all sausage products, its not healthy. One link will contribute to around 28%(6g) of your daily suggest saturated fat. The total fat is 15 g. It will vary depending on the manufacturer, but don’t go in expecting to eat 5 of them. Then again, you only live once.
This nutrition value is for the Kam Yan Jan Sausage, it will vary depending on the one you buy.
There are many different ways you can use the Chinese Sausage. The recipe below is one of the most common one.
Lap Cheong Fried Rice
1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp.
1/4 cup Finely Cubed Carrots (Frozen Works)
1/4 cup Peas (Frozen Works)
Left Over Rice
2 Beaten Eggs
1 Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Cubed
1) Fried the Sausage until the Sugar Caramelize then remove.
2) Saute the shrimp on one side until it becomes slightly opaque then remove.
3) Add Rice and heat it up until soften.
4) Make a Well in the center and scramble the egg.
5) Add in the Vegetables, Sausage and Shrimp and warm through.
6) Salt and Pepper to Taste.
1) Frying the Sausage will add a smokey flavor and browning it will intensify its sweetness.
2) Cooking the shrimp only one side will prevent it from overcooking.
3) Left over rice is perfect for fried rice, it separates a lot more easily then fresh rice. For my article on the best rice for fried rice, click Here.
4) You don’t need to remove the rice unless you want to but scrambling rice separate ensures that it wont fuse with the rice. If you skip this step, the rice will look off. Texture will be wrong also.
5) You just need to warm the vegetables and meat through to finish cooking.
6) I prefer salt to maintain the color of fried rice. However, if you enjoy the taste of soy sauce, by all means. It will turn brown though.
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