What is Chinese Sausage Called?

Chinese sausage, also known as lap cheong (Cantonese) or làcháng (Mandarin), is a cured sausage that is usually steamed or diced and sautéed in a wok. It doesn't look like any other type of meat you've ever seen before. The sausage is marinated, salted, and smoked. If you visit any decent-sized Chinese market, you'll find an impressive variety of Chinese sausages.

The term is generic and covers a wide range of sausages, both fresh and smoked, and extends to sausages from Vietnam and Thailand. Some types are made with liver, others are dry to the point of hardening like a rock, others use soy sauce, and others use a simpler mix of sugar and fatty pork. It is a term that encompasses a variety of sausages from China, where they were made between 300 and 500 AD. Not as well known outside of China, there is also a spicy variety from the Sichuan region.

Chinese sausage can be smoked and dried, or fresh. It can be fat or lean. The variety made with pork and small cubes of fat is the most common, but the best variety I've tried in my life was made with duck liver. Germans add herbs and spices with alcohol to many sausages, Italians add red wine to salami, Russians often add brandy or cognac to their sausages.

To store the most cooked Chinese sausages, place them in an airtight container with a lid and in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. This variant of Chinese sausage is known as xiangchang () in Mandarin Chinese, which literally means aromatic sausage. The only trick to using fresh lap cheong is to carefully control the browning process, since the sugar content of the meat causes the sausage slices to burn easily. Traditional Chinese recipes, similar to Italian recipes for salamis, have been passed down from generation to generation without much understanding of the underlying processes.

Chinese sausage appears in turnip cake, for example, and if you frequent dim sum carts, you'll see it in a variety of other snacks, such as various fried taro root concoctions. Sichuan sausage also contains red chili powder, Sichuan pepper powder and Pixian bean sauce, to characterize sausage with a special flavor. Lap cheong sausages should be about 8 inches (20 cm) long and the belly must be twisted on itself between each sausage. A finished dry sausage loses approximately 40% of its original weight (water), making it microbiologically stable since bacteria need water to survive. This Asian sausage recipe will give you different options for cooking these sweet and savory Chinese-style sausages for your next quick dinner.

It is available in Asian supermarkets abroad, mainly in vacuum-packed form, although some Chinese supermarkets also sell the varieties unpackaged. The confusion comes from different Chinese dialects; in the Cantonese dialect (the southern provinces) the sausage is known as Lap Cheong, but in the Mandarin dialect (the northern provinces) the sausage is known as La Chang. Lap cheong () are Chinese pork sausages with a sweet and savory flavor and a beautiful reddish pink color. Because of the salty flavor of sausages, they are used sparingly with other ingredients to balance the flavor. Black pudding made in Poland differs from a sausage made in England, France or Spain because it includes a different combination of ingredients; however it contains blood and is still a sausage.

You could probably get away with less salt (2.0%) if the sausage is filled in a small diameter casing (22-25 mm), however this is not recommended.

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