Chinese sausage, also known as Lap Cheong (Cantonese) or La Chang (Mandarin), is a cured sausage that is usually steamed or diced and sautéed in a wok. It is made with fresh pork, pork fat, livers, and sometimes chicken, and tends to be as sweet as it is salty, with a rich, dense, emulsified texture. Pork makes the best sausages, and the Chinese love it. There is a saying that their love for pork prevented them from converting to Islam.
A pig is one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac calendar. Although most Chinese sausages are mostly made from pure pork, 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. Any reliable information about sausage manufacturing in China dates back to the 5th century and some of the techniques are still used today. As in other countries, there is no universally followed sausage recipe, but each region of the country develops its own variation, even though the name remains the same.
The Chinese name for sausages is “Lap Cheong”, which means “winter filled intestine” or “waxed intestine” because “cheong” not only means “intestine”, but also “sausage”. This sausage is normally dried in air or over low heat. Sausage is used as an ingredient in many dishes in parts of southern China, such as Hong Kong and Southeast Asian countries. It is used, for example, in fried rice dishes, noodles and other dishes. The most popular spice is cinnamon, as Chinese manufacturers believe it acts as a preservative.
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. Chinese sausage formulations are unique, based on a long tradition. 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.
They are the result of errors and testing procedures; however, they are modified today to comply with the safety regulations of the China Meat Safety Department. Sausages are consumed all year round, but their consumption is highest in February during the Chinese New Year. What unifies all types of Chinese sausages is an extremely sweet flavor and an emulsified texture that makes even the freshest links taste like meat caramel. Chinese sausage may look and taste different depending on the region of China where the recipe comes from. I learned how to do it from my Chinese ex-wife who always cooked it by putting it on top of rice while it was steamed. It is sometimes confused with the native Macau sausage (also known as Chinese sausage) and is used instead of it. It is the presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer that is regularly used in Chinese cuisine that gives lap cheong its special flavor, and also to baijiu, a rice brandy. 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.
In Vietnam although they are often similar to the Chinese version they may also contain ground chicken instead of pork. Lap cheong () are Chinese pork sausages with a sweet and salty flavor and a beautiful reddish pink color. There are premixed combinations available in stores one of the most popular being five-spice powder a common combination is star anise fennel seeds cloves Chinese cinnamon and Sichuan pepper.