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Kissed by air: Dry-cured pork sausage a treat from Vietnam’s northern highland

Saturday, September 04, 2021, 14:54 GMT+7
Kissed by air: Dry-cured pork sausage a treat from Vietnam’s northern highland
Lap xuong sausage is dry-cured in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre

Under the mellow sunlight and brisk atmosphere of mountainous villages in the central Nghe An Province, the best cuts of free-range pork get their turn to develop a rounded, savory flavor in a delicacy known as ‘lap xuong,' or dry-cured sausage, a cuisine specialty that local communities of Thai ethnic group pride themselves in.

A local spin to ‘lap cheong,’ also known as Chinese sausage, ‘lap xuong’ from Nghe An Province boasts a more supple texture, as well as a discrete flavor profile that reflects the local cuisine. 

The local Thai people, who have perfected the recipe as both a food preservation method and a time-honored cuisine tradition, insist that their ‘lap xuong’ be made with free-range pork, otherwise it will not achieve the consistency and taste that they want.

A Thai native prepares lap xuong sausage in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
A Thai native prepares lap xuong sausage in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
Mince pork is prepared to make lap xuong sausage in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
Mince pork is prepared to make lap xuong sausage in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre

To start off a ‘lap xuong’ batch, they mix minced pork ham and pork fat together at a 5:1 ratio to ensure a balance between the meaty texture and juiciness in the final product. 

A slew of spices, including garlic, chili, sugar, is then introduced to the mixture to fill in the flavor. 

Subsequently, white wine is also added to create the perfect environment for fermentation to take place in the next six to eight hours, bringing out notes of tanginess from the substance.

While the meat rests, the cooks will prepare the pig’s small intestines, washing them thoroughly with wine and vinegar to turn them into natural casings for the sausages.

They will then be filled with the meat via a cylinder-shaped sausage stuffer, a novel gadget that takes up the arduous work of filling meat into casings by hand.

Meat filling is stuffed into the pig's intestine to make lap xuong sausage. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
Meat filling is stuffed into the pig's intestine to make lap xuong sausage. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
Lap xuong sausage is dry-cured in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
Lap xuong sausage is dry-cured in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
Lap xuong sausage is dry-cured in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
Lap xuong sausage is dry-cured in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre

Once done, the sausage is left to dry outdoors, picking up smoke from the household stoves and sunlight from the open air to develop a deep red finish and unique pungent flavors.

When dry-cured this way, 'lap xuong' can be preserved in a refrigerator for a year. 

Fried lap xuong sausage. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre
Fried lap xuong sausage. Photo: Dao Tho / Tuoi Tre

These cold cuts are a fail-proof choice to spice up meals and drinking sessions, regardless of how they are prepared. 

Either stove-grilling or frying would be a viable option — although the Thai natives promised that charcoal-barbecued ‘lap xuong’ is an experience that is second to none.

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