Nam sausage recipe
There's really no nice description that does justice to this most popular of Thai snacks.
It's a taste experience relished all over Thailand, but hard to explain to foreigners and the uninitiated. Nam is so popular in Thailand, it even has its own nam facebook page
It's 'fermented sausage', but "a glass of Burgundy" sounds nicer than 'fermented squashed grapes' and 'sourdough' sounds better than 'rotting wheat'.
You can probably see my problem – it's quite hard to sell or explain to those who haven't tried it before.
Mine looks a bit different to the store bought varieties, because it's fresh and natural.
Generally though, nam has a pink colour, sour spicy taste, and a tight texture with variation from different cuts of meat.
Nam sausage is a Thai staple.
It's spicy and flavoursome, with a heady tang and some personality.
If you're about to kiss passionately, choose chocolate truffles instead of nam. But if you're going to drink, eat and be merry, have some fermented sausage on hand.
Nam is great with a beer or four, and can also be added to soups. Another way to serve is Thai yum salad with roasted peanuts, ginger and coriander, a dish that really leaves you craving more.
Nam is easy to find in Thailand, both literally and figuratively.
Walk into any 7-11 from Chiang Rai to Hat Yai, and choose from 10 different brands. Street vendors sell it grilled, barbecued on sticks, deep fried or tossed with ginger root and toasted peanuts. The list goes on.
Nam is made with pork, but it can be easily be made with lean red meat also.
In Australia I made a great Kangaroo nam with zero fat and an impressive flavour and texture. In Bor Naam ron I tried an excellent water buffalo meat nam.
As mentioned above, Nam is basically a 'sour fermented pork sausage'.
This always puts people off.
Nam is awesome!
In the West it's not such a common product, but we can pick up a packet of Lobo 'nam powder' from the local Asian shop and make our own in 24 hours. Fantastic. Mix well with mince, garlic, chilli, rap tightly in bags, press and chill overnight
Nothing like grabbing a pack of powdered enzymes, additive numbers and food enhancers and mixing it through raw meat eh?
In Sydney I used to use the instant nam powder. It tastes good, and we eat additives every day in the West in almost everything we consume.
But why not do it the easy natural way if we have the know-how?
The traditional Thai method of making nam
This way is cheaper, easier and far superior in flavour than the lab export.
Before starting, you need to make sure that:
- The work area and bowl/utensils are scrupulously clean
- The pork or other meat is very fresh
- You wash your hands well – and wear gloves when mixing
- The meat should be chilled and temperature controlled up until you use it
- 500g lean freshly ground pork (never frozen). Get a piece of fresh pork, then chop it or mince yourself.
- 40g fresh steamed white sticky rice
- 50g garlic, fresh cloves
- 16 ea Thai chilli, whole – not cut
- 20g salt flakes – kosher, Maldon, etc. Must be a pure salt – not table salt
- 1 tsp MSG (optional) If not, read this in horror, scream "AAAAARRRRRGHHHHHHHH!" loudly and ignore
- 120g clean pork skin - slice into small strips and simmer in water until not quite soft, about 5-10 minutes. Do not cook too much or it will disintegrate and go gluey!
You'll also need:
- banana leaves – or clean plastic bags
- rubber bands, or string, or – something to tie it up with.
- larger plastic bags to protect the individual nams as they ferment
First crush the garlic. Remove the skins, wash, then chop roughly
If you need more background on nam (and anything else in the Thai repertoire for the last 4 centuries) get the book "Thai Food" by David Thompson. Careful – do your 'due diligence' David Thompson is an Australian chef and author. To buy the book online it's $29 on Amazon and $90 on Australia's boomerangbooks.com.au.
That's a criminal price difference.
The book is written in English, and it's a masterpiece that comes bound in Thai silk.
Asian Food porn at its best
I learned this handmade nam sausage recipe the best way though – taught by a Thai Mum and Dad.
They were taught by their Mum and Dad and the recipe was handed down through a few generations
Add the salt flakes to the mix, and give it a stir.
Grab a pair of gloves and start to knead it well to mix the cooked sticky rice and the salt into the pork and garlic. The sticky rice is what will start the fermentation process, and the salt will control it to a certain extent.
You'll need a couple of sturdy priks. Relax. "Prik" is the Thai word for chilli.
The standard is the normal Thai birdseye chilli, about 4-5cm long (1.5 to 2 inches).
If you're brave or silly, you could use the miniature Thai chillies that burn their way through you like battery acid.
If you have a death wish, experiment with habanero chilli
Over here in Thailand we use banana leaves, because they're free and growing everywhere.
You don't need to use them though. An easy method is to use plastic bags, but they have to be new ones, and very clean.
Rubber bands are handy too, as we need to keep these 'nam' sausages nice and tight so the meat binds together.
Lay the nam mix inside the banana leaf, or spoon it into the clean plastic bag.
Don't be too worried about technique.
We just want to wrap it up, and then squeeze it, tie it, or press it nice and tight for 24-48 hours.
This one is wrapped with thin 'strings' cut off wild bamboo with a sharp knife, but I'm showing off.
I made some with plastic bags too, just so you don't feel insecure first time around.
The important thing is to make sure that they're quite tight.
You know when you get stressed out and wrap rubber bands around your finger again and again until the end turns blue?
Well after you roll it in the plastic bag, do that 3 times.
Once on each end and once in the centre, and you end up with a tight, firmly bound sausage that doesn't fall apart in your hand.
If you are going to use it for salads or barbecue, it doesn't matter so much.
The taste and quality won't be affected – only the 'solidity'. and 'firmness'
Put your wrapped nam packages into a fresh plastic bag, twist it well, and seal it with rubber bands, twist ties or something so that flies and pests can't get in.
We are going to do what the cheese and yoghurt makers do, and leave it at room temperature for 1-2 days to ferment. We don't want any bugs laying eggs or trying to eat it. Not even the edible kind!
1 day is slightly sour, 2 days more so. It's delicious.
You can eat this nam sausage recipe plain, or slice it and serve it with roasted peanuts (no skin) and some thin slices of peeled young ginger root. Try it with a few cold beers.It keeps in the fridge for up to a week.
Natural, no preservatives. I'm lovin' it!
If you liked this nam sausage recipe, please share with others, or check through the archives. There's lot's more to look at!
thanks for stopping by. Comments and feedback welcome