Chinese sausage, also known as lap cheong, is a popular ingredient in many Chinese dishes. This cured, dried raw-meat sausage has a unique waxy texture and is commonly used in stir-fries, fried rice dishes, and glutinous rice parcels.
But can you eat Chinese sausage uncooked?
While some people have eaten it raw without any adverse reactions, it is recommended to cook it before consuming. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why Chinese sausage should be cooked, how to cook it, and how to store it properly.
So let’s dive in and learn more about this delicious ingredient!
Can You Eat Chinese Sausage Uncooked?
As mentioned earlier, Chinese sausage is not cooked during the curing process and should be cooked before eating. While some people may have eaten it raw without any issues, it is not recommended to do so.
Cooking Chinese sausage not only ensures that any potential bacteria or parasites are killed, but it also enhances the flavor and texture of the sausage. When cooked, the sausage becomes slightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, making it a delicious addition to any dish.
Why Chinese Sausage Should Be Cooked
There are several reasons why Chinese sausage should be cooked before consumption. Firstly, cooking the sausage ensures that any harmful bacteria or parasites that may be present in the meat are killed. This is especially important for people with weakened immune systems, as they may be more susceptible to foodborne illnesses.
Secondly, cooking the sausage enhances its flavor and texture. Chinese sausage is known for its sweet and savory taste, and cooking it brings out these flavors even more. When cooked, the sausage becomes slightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, making it a delicious addition to any dish.
Lastly, cooking Chinese sausage is a cultural tradition. In China, it is customary to cook the sausage before eating it. This is because cooking is seen as a way to show respect for the food and the people who made it. By cooking the sausage, you are honoring this tradition and showing appreciation for the culture.
The Risks Of Eating Raw Chinese Sausage
Eating raw Chinese sausage carries a high risk of foodborne illness. Raw sausage can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Listeria, and Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause serious infections and illnesses if consumed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 22% of foodborne illness cases come from ill-prepared meats such as sausages.
Additionally, Chinese sausage often contains preservatives such as nitrate and nitrite, which are permitted in certain proportions under regulations. However, excessive levels of nitrosamines, particularly N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), may contribute to liver damage. In a study on rats, liver damage was observed following long-term exposure to Chinese sausage diets containing high levels of NDMA.
It is important to note that trichinosis, a parasitic infection that can cause muscle pain and weakness, has been almost completely eliminated from pork in the U.S. However, wild game such as bear may still carry trichinosis.
How To Cook Chinese Sausage
There are several ways to cook Chinese sausage, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Here are some popular methods:
1. Steaming: One of the most common and simple ways to cook Chinese sausage is to steam it. You can steam the sausage on its own or along with rice. If you choose to steam it with rice, the rice will absorb all the delicious flavors and fat from the sausage, making it even more flavorful. To steam the sausage on its own, place the links on a heatproof plate and steam, covered, over boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes or until the sausages are translucent.
2. Boiling: Another method for cooking Chinese sausage is to boil it in a pot of water. Boiling helps to release some of the fat and makes the sausages more tender and flavorful. Once boiled, you can take the casing off for easy removal.
3. Stir-frying: You can also stir-fry Chinese sausage with vegetables and rice for a delicious one-pan meal. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the sausage and stir fry until cooked through. Remove the sausage from the pan and set it aside. Add ginger, garlic, and vegetables to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Push the mixture to one side of the pan, pour beaten eggs into the other side of the pan and stir until scrambled and cooked. Mix together with ginger, garlic, veggies, rice, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir fry until combined and heated through.
4. Oven: If you prefer a low-effort method of cooking Chinese sausage, you can bake it in the oven. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Once heated, place your sausages on the tray and cook for about 30 minutes, turning once at about the 15-minute mark.
No matter which method you choose, make sure to cook Chinese sausage thoroughly before consuming. Enjoy!
Delicious Chinese Sausage Recipes To Try
If you’re looking to incorporate Chinese sausage into your meals, here are some delicious recipes to try:
1. Chinese Sausage Fried Rice: This classic dish is simple to make and packed with flavor. Heat up some oil in a wok and add beaten eggs, ginger, garlic, carrots, celery, and sliced Chinese sausage. Stir-fry for a few minutes before adding cooked rice, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Fry until the rice is hot and serve with garnished scallions.
2. Chinese Sausage and Broccoli Stir-Fry: Cut Chinese sausage into thin slices and stir-fry them with broccoli florets in a hot wok. Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and oyster sauce for an extra kick of flavor. Serve with steamed rice.
3. Chinese Sausage and Mushroom Noodles: Cook your favorite noodles according to package instructions. In a separate pan, stir-fry sliced Chinese sausage with mushrooms until they are slightly crispy. Add garlic, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar to the pan before combining it with the cooked noodles. Garnish with chopped scallions.
4. Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage: Soak sticky rice for a few hours before steaming it in a bamboo basket. In another pan, fry sliced Chinese sausage until it’s crispy on the outside. Once the rice is cooked, add the sausage to the basket and steam it for another few minutes until everything is heated through.
These recipes are just a few examples of how versatile Chinese sausage can be in the kitchen. With its unique sweet and savory flavor profile, it’s sure to become a staple ingredient in your meals. Just remember to always cook it thoroughly before eating!
Properly Storing Chinese Sausage For Maximum Freshness
To ensure Chinese sausage stays fresh and safe to eat, it is important to store it properly. Unopened Chinese sausage can be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, and it does not require refrigeration. However, once the package is opened, it is best to keep the sausages in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.
If you have leftover Chinese sausage, wrap it tightly in cling film or aluminum foil and store it in an airtight container. Label the container with the date you stored it so you can keep track of how long it has been in your fridge. Cooked Chinese sausage can be stored in the same way as raw sausage, but it should be consumed within four days.
If you have a large quantity of Chinese sausage that you cannot consume within four days, you can freeze it for later use. Wrap each sausage individually in cling film or aluminum foil and place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. Label the container with the date you stored them and freeze for up to three months.
When thawing frozen Chinese sausage, do so slowly in the refrigerator to prevent bacterial growth. Once thawed, cook the sausage immediately and do not refreeze any leftovers.
By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy fresh and delicious Chinese sausage without any worries about spoilage or foodborne illness.