Chinese sausage is a beloved ingredient in many Asian cuisines, known for its unique flavor and texture. But if you’re new to this delicacy, you may be wondering whether it’s safe to eat raw.
After all, some sausages are meant to be cooked before consumption, while others can be enjoyed straight out of the package.
In this article, we’ll explore the world of Chinese sausage and answer the burning question: can you eat it raw?
Join us as we delve into the history, varieties, and culinary uses of this popular ingredient.
Can You Eat Chinese Sausage Raw?
The short answer is no, Chinese sausage should not be eaten raw. While some people may have eaten it uncooked without any adverse reactions, it is not recommended.
Chinese sausages are dried but not cooked, and should be cooked before consumption. This is because they may contain harmful bacteria or parasites that can cause foodborne illnesses if consumed raw.
Additionally, cooking Chinese sausage enhances its flavor and texture, making it a more enjoyable culinary experience. Whether you choose to pan-fry, steam, or grill it, cooking Chinese sausage will bring out its unique taste and aroma.
The History Of Chinese Sausage
Chinese sausage has a rich history dating back to the period of Northern and Southern Dynasties (~300–500 AD). During this time, a special technique of sausage-filling was developed to preserve meat, which is still used today. The sausage-stuffing method was first documented in Qimin Yaoshu, China’s first agricultural encyclopaedia, authored by Jia Sixie in AD544. The encyclopaedia detailed several essential techniques for the welfare of the Chinese people.
The invention of Chinese sausage can be traced back to the Wei and Jin dynasties (300–500 AD). Historical records from the period chronicle a unique technique of sausage-filling, devoid of starch and developed primarily for the purpose of preserving the meat. This technique is still followed today.
The southern flavor of Chinese sausage is commonly known by its Cantonese name lap cheong (or lap chong) (simplified Chinese: 腊肠; traditional Chinese: 臘腸; pinyin: làcháng; Jyutping: laap6 coeng2; Cantonese Yale: laahp chéung). In the Southern dynasties, sausages were considered a delicacy for the New Year festival, which has led to them being considered a delicacy for this occasion to this day.
Eastern European style sausages were manufactured in Harbin, the largest city in Heilongjiang province in the northeastern region of China. In the beginning of 1900’s many settlers from Russia, Lithuania and Poland arrived in Harbin. They brought with them previously unknown in China cuisine and sourdough bread, Russian Kvass beverage and eastern curing and smoked sausages appeared in Harbin. A new sausage called Harbin Red, Kazakh Red or LI Dao Si has become immensely popular first in Harbin, then in other parts of China as well as in neighboring countries.
Today, Chinese sausage is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of techniques used to make sausages all over China. Sausages are either air-cured or smoked and are made using ground pork and pig-intestine casings. Different regions have their own unique flavors due to varying seasonings added during preparation. While homemade sausages are considered the most natural delicacies preserving the original flavors of ingredients, factory products often use artificial intestine casings and may contain chemical additives.
Varieties Of Chinese Sausage
When it comes to Chinese sausage, there are many varieties to choose from. They can range in size, shape, and color, with each type having its own unique flavor profile.
One of the main differences between Chinese sausages is whether they are made with fatty or lean meat. Some sausages are made using fresh pork, while others may include pig livers, duck livers, or even turkey livers. Sausages made with liver tend to be darker in color than those made without liver.
Traditionally, Chinese sausages are classified into two main types: Lap Chang and Xiang Chang. Lap Chang is a dried, hard sausage made from pork and a high content of fat. It is usually smoked, sweetened, and seasoned with rose water, rice wine, and soy sauce. Xiang Chang, on the other hand, is a fresh and plump sausage consisting of coarsely chopped pieces of pork and un-rendered pork fat. This sausage is rather sweet in taste.
Another type of Chinese sausage is Nuomi Chang. This white-colored sausage consists of glutinous rice and flavorings stuffed into a casing and then steamed or boiled until cooked. Some Nuomi Chang sausages have blood as a binding agent, similar to Korean Sundae.
Finally, there are Xue Chang or Chinese blood sausages that have blood as the primary ingredient. Bairouxue Chang is a type of sausage popular in the North East of China that includes chopped meat in the blood mixture.
When shopping for Chinese sausage at an Asian grocery store, it’s important to know that the shape and color define the variety. Thin dark sausages are likely made with pork or duck liver, while dull red ones with bright white specks are most likely made with pork meat and fat. It’s best to ask the shopkeeper to explain the differences between the sausages on display so that you can get exactly what you want.
Cooking With Chinese Sausage
Chinese sausage, also known as lap cheong, is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Its unique sweet and savory flavor pairs well with simple sides like steamed sticky rice, white rice, or noodles. Here are some tips on how to cook with Chinese sausage:
1. Steaming: The most common and simple way to cook Chinese sausage is to steam it in a rice cooker with or without rice. When steamed with rice, the rice absorbs all the delicious flavors and fat from the Chinese sausage, making it utterly delicious. Alternatively, you can steam the sausage on its own by placing the links on a heatproof plate and steaming, covered, over boiling water, or in a rice cooker for 20 to 30 minutes or until the sausages are translucent.
2. Stir-fry: Chinese sausage can also be added to stir-fry dishes for an extra burst of flavor. Heat some oil in a wok over high heat and add the sliced sausage along with other ingredients like ginger, garlic, vegetables, and cooked rice or noodles. Stir-fry until everything is hot and well combined.
3. Grilling: For a smoky flavor, you can grill Chinese sausage on a barbecue or grill pan. Slice the sausage into thin pieces and grill until charred and crispy.
No matter how you choose to cook with Chinese sausage, make sure it is fully cooked before consumption to avoid any potential foodborne illnesses. Enjoy the unique flavor and texture of Chinese sausage in your favorite dishes!
Is It Safe To Eat Chinese Sausage Raw?
It is not safe to eat Chinese sausage raw. Raw meat can carry harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause food poisoning and other illnesses. While Chinese sausage is dried, it is not cooked, and therefore may still contain these harmful organisms.
Furthermore, cooking Chinese sausage not only ensures its safety for consumption, but also enhances its flavor and texture. Cooking brings out the unique taste and aroma of the sausage, making it a more enjoyable culinary experience.
How To Properly Store And Handle Chinese Sausage
To ensure the safety and quality of Chinese sausage, proper storage and handling are essential. When purchasing Chinese sausage, check the expiration date and choose vacuum-sealed packages. Unopened packages can be stored at room temperature, but once opened, it is best to keep the sausages in the refrigerator.
If you do not plan to use all of the sausages at once, wrap the remaining sausages tightly in cling film and store them in the freezer. Alternatively, if you have a vacuum sealer, you can reseal the remaining sausages to extend their shelf life.
When handling Chinese sausage, it is important to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the sausages, and use clean utensils and cutting boards. Avoid cross-contamination with other foods.
Finally, remember that Chinese sausage is a cured meat and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Enjoy it as a flavorful addition to stir-fries, fried rice, or noodle dishes, but be mindful of its high sodium and fat content.
Other Ways To Enjoy Chinese Sausage.
Chinese sausage is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some other ways to enjoy it:
1. In soup: Chinese sausage adds depth and richness to soups. Simply slice it thinly and add it to your favorite soup recipe.
2. In dumplings: Chinese sausage can be used as a filling for dumplings, along with vegetables and other meats.
3. In fried rice: As mentioned earlier, Chinese sausage is a great addition to fried rice. It adds a sweet and savory flavor that pairs well with the rice.
4. In omelets: Chop up some Chinese sausage and add it to your morning omelet for a flavorful twist.
5. In stir-fries: Chinese sausage can be diced and added to stir-fries for an extra burst of flavor.
6. In pasta dishes: Chinese sausage can be used in place of traditional Italian sausage in pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara, as mentioned earlier.
7. On its own: Chinese sausage can be enjoyed on its own as a snack or appetizer. Simply slice it thinly and serve with crackers or bread.