Chinese sausages are renowned for their sweet flavor and emulsified texture that makes them taste like meat caramel. Pork is the most popular meat used in Chinese sausages, but other meats such as beef, chicken, duck or lamb are often added. Pork liver or duck liver are often added to liver sausages. It is generally accepted that the Chinese were already making sausages 2000 years ago.
What makes Chinese sausages so sweet? Fat and meat can be emulsified and a greater amount of sugar can be used, resulting in a sweeter flavor. This sausage is normally dried in air or over low heat. Ingredients such as soy sauce and sugar are added to sausages at very high levels. Chinese rice wines, distilled spirits, or even whiskey or sherry are commonly added to sausages.
Traditional Chinese recipes, similar to Italian recipes for salamis, have been passed down from generation to generation without much understanding of the underlying processes. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is also added to enhance the flavor of the sausages. The only trick to using fresh lap cheong is to carefully control the browning process, since the sugar content of the meat makes sausage slices easy to burn. 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.
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 the various fried taro root concoctions. Fry the cabbage with 2 Chinese sausages, sliced and soy sauce to taste in hot oil until the cabbage has wilted and the sausage is cooked through. This sweet sausage is so popular that it extends to several regions in Asia, such as Vietnam and the Philippines. The Chinese use an ingenious way of marking the grades and quality of their sausages by using hanging cords of different colors. For processing Lap Cheong sausages, the best sources of lean meat are the back legs (ham) followed by the front legs of pigs (lean cuts of butts and picnics).
Sausage is used as an ingredient in many dishes in parts of southern China, such as Hong Kong and Southeast Asian countries. Sausages are consumed all year round, but their consumption is highest in February, during the Chinese New Year. Lap cheong is a sweet-and-salty sausage that has pockets of fat that help highlight flavors and enhance fatty texture. During cooking, the fat melts, but is often trapped in the meat, creating small bursts of umami flavor. Poland, Germany and Russia have been manufacturing sausages for centuries, but they still stay away from spicy sausages made with chilies, something that is common and perfectly acceptable in Asian countries or even in the southern states of the United States.