Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hmong Sausage

Originally, I was going to make these simple ground beef meatballs with green onions--the kind that my dad used to make for us when we were young. He wasn't the best cook. He basically just cooked food that was good enough for him. I would never eat anything he cooked except for these beef meatballs that he would make. They were just plain ground beef with green onions and then pan fried. Making them again brings back memories and it would make me miss my dad more than usual. I think about the times when he would save a piece of fruit for me because none of my siblings cared for fruit, but he knew that I always loved fruits. After he passed away, just cutting into a piece of fruit would remind me of my dad and how much he loved us.

"Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you will realize they were the big things." - Unknown

Besides making these beef meatballs, I also decided to make Hmong sausages for the first time. I had no recipe to go by, except for the ingredients on the package some Hmong sausages that I recently bought and to what I thought it tasted like. For a first try, it really wasn't that bad. I was so impressed that it tasted just like the sausages I bought except everything was freshly made. I meant to write down the measurements, but totally forgot, so the measurements are not accurate as to what I attempted. The hog casings were easier to find than I thought. They were in the freezer section at my local grocery store; although I had to ask for help. I also read that using pork butt or pork shoulder was the best to make sausage. It has a good amount of meat and fat in it, but you can certainly combine whatever meat portions you like.

Makes about a foot of sausage:

Ingredients (again, these are approximate ingredients since I did not write them down except for the pork. I do remember measuring that.):

Hog casing
1 lb of pork shoulder, chopped or grinded
1/4 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup green onions,finely chopped
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp lemon grass, white part only, minced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp Thai chili peppers, finely chopped
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of sugar

Package of hog casing found at local grocery store:

Soak the casings in water for about 30 minutes to get rid of the salt. Boy, did these look weird when I first saw them. They do expand:
Clean casing by flushing it with water:

Cut up the meat to get it ready for chopping or grinding:

My food processor did not grind raw meat well, so I ended up manually chopping the meat with the Hmong knife that my mom gave me. It's a Hmong knife because it had rust all over!

These are the herbs I used to make sausage. I forgot to measure these exactly, but I did not use all the ginger pictured here. I remember that I used about 1 tablespoon of peppers and the sausage came out pretty hot, so I would advise to use half of that. Of course the peppers are optional if you don't like it hot:

Mix the meat, herbs, fish sauce, salt and sugar together. Also use gloves to mix and stuff this because the hot peppers will burn your hand. Also, at this point you want to take a small piece and form it into a pattie and pan fry until cooked to see how you like it. Adjust any seasonings per your taste.

Tie one end of the casing to start your stuffing from the opposite end:

I cut up a plastic bottle of soda and used the nozzle as my stuffing tool. Simply wrap the casing around the nozzle and stuff the meat through. I ended up cutting the plastic down more than the picture below to make it easier and faster to stuff (almost down to the nozzle):

Finished stuffed sausage. I did over stuff mine, so try not to over stuff it because when you cook it, the casing will break as mine partially did:

I did not store mine overnight. You can certainly do so if you like. I made these on another occasion and the flavorings still tasted the same to me when I cooked it right away. How I cooked these were by broiling them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. I wanted them more brown and crispy, so I ended up pan frying them for about 5-10 minutes. After I made these, I found some more references on making Laotian sausage. The difference I have seen with Laotian sausage vs. Hmong sausage is that the Laotian brand is made with sticky rice, lemongrass, garlic and green onions. Many I've seen did not have cilantro or ginger in it. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but here is one of the recipes I found from Laocook:

Here is the basic recipe for our version of the Lao Style Sausage. The fat to meat ratio is very important, we use 1:5, but it is all down to personal taste. This recipe will produce about 3kg.

2kg Coarse Minced Pork Neck
400g Coarse Minced Pork fat
20g Chopped Coriander Stems (Cilantro)
100g Finely Diced Shallot
10g Chopped Garlic
50g Chopped Spring Onion (Scallions)
7 Finely chopped Lime Leaves
70g Finely Chopped Dill
50g Red Chilli Paste (we make our own, but you can use Red Thai Curry Paste)
150g Finely Diced Red Pepper
50g Chopped Lemon Grass, white part only
5g White Pepper
3tbsp Fish Sauce
3tbsp Soy Sauce
3tbsp Oyster Sauce
40g Salt
15g Sugar
3 Eggs
100g Corn Flour (used to help bind the ingredients)

Natural casings

Mix all the ingredients except the Natural Casings. Allow the ingredients get to know each other by placing them in a covered container overnight.

The following day taste the mixture by taking a small amount and shaping it in to a burger and frying it. Adjust seasoning to your personal taste then stuff in to the Natural Casings and shape as required. Make sure to use a pin to puncture the skin at intervals to allow air to escape.

We find them best cooked in an oven set to around 150ÂșC for around 15 minutes.

They can also be steamed, then browned in a hot pan for colouring.

Some versions of these sausages appear more “red”. For this you can add a few teaspoons of Paprika Powder to the mix.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Mexican-Style Hot Dogs

I bought some ingredients this week to make some of these hot dogs that I recently discovered. Didn't know the name for them, but they're either called Tijuana hot dogs or Sonoran hot dogs. They were originally grilled when I first had them, but they taste just as good from the oven or pan. I had the ingredients for almost a week, but procrastinated to make these. By the time today arrived, most of the hot dogs were almost gone. I only had about four left, so I decided to make these today before they were all gone! My husband kept asking me when I was going to make these since I told him how great they were and he hasn't tried them yet. Today, I finally made them and he tried it for the first time. He loved them. At first he grabbed two, but I told him that one would be enough because these are pretty hearty.

Hot dogs or weiners (I used all beef)
Bacon slices for each hot dog
Hot dog buns
Fresh salsa (recipe follows)
4 Avocados
1 tsp lime juice
1 white onion
Jalapenos (for side) optional
Ketchup, mustard and mayo as needed

4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced (remove some or all seeds if you don't like it hot)
8 cilantro sprigs, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt (add more/less for per taste)

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees broil.
2. Make the salsa: In a mixing bowl, combine all salsa ingredients together. Toss thoroughly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Set it aside.
3. Wrap each hot dog with a slice of bacon and lay it on a foil covered baking sheet. Broil in oven at 500 degrees until the bacon is browned. Turn over to the other side until both sides are browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
4. While hot dogs are cooking, slice the avocados into small chunks and squeeze a small amount of lime juice into the mix as well as some pieces of cilantro leaves.
5. Cut onion in half and slice onion. Sauteed the sliced onions in some vegetable oil over medium high heat until browned and fragrant. Set aside.
6. Using the same pan, pan fry the jalapenos (one per each serving or per person) until brown on most sides. Jalapeno should come out tender tasting.
7. Simply top bun with bacon-wrapped hot dog, then condiments (choice of ketchup, mustard and/or mayo), onions, salsa and then avocado mixture. The cooked jalapeno can be eaten separate or also put into the hot dog as well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Waiting for spring!

Haven't been to a Lund's or Byerly's in a long time. I use to go there just because their desserts looked so good and I like to look. Was in the neighborhood, so I decided to stop in one. A few things I love to just look at: nice clothes, dessert displays and beautiful homes. I used to go to the Parade of Homes every season when they had them before we bought the house. I also went to the Luxury Home Tour twice now just to dream... Wow, so beautiful. There was this one neighborhood called Locust Hills in Wayzata, MN that I just fell in love with. If I was a billionaire, then that's what I would want. My own neighborhood with all my friends and families living in the same neighborhood, so we can see each other more often. My husband doesn't think that's a good idea. :p I've also been attending the ASID home tour every year for the past six years, except I skipped the past two since I was prego and then just got busy.

Anyway, decided to buy myself some treats. Actually, I've been treating myself everyday since the pregnant days. This super sweet tooth hasn't gone away since then. I need to stop, but probably not this week since I just bought like four packs of strawberries (since they were on sale) and stuff to make sweet treats with them.

Waiting for all the snow to melt, so I can go walking outside. I love that. I think this year has the most snow ever that I've experienced. I love March BTW. It's my favorite month. For some reason when March arrives, I am a new person all over again just like spring.

All photos taken with my iPhone. :p

Friday, March 18, 2011

Best Hot Dog I've Had So Far

Photos from here.

I saw these on FoodNetwork once and always wanted to try one. I had the opportunity to finally eat one the other day when a friend of mine invited me over to a family gathering. They were freshly grilled with bacon wrapped around the hot dog along with toppings of grilled onions, fresh salsa, avocados and topped with a grilled jalapeno. Gosh, just typing that makes me so hungry and craving for another one already. My mouth was watering when I watched them cooked the stuff. I should go to sleep before I head to the kitchen instead of the bedroom. I think I'm going to go shopping tomorrow and get some ingredients to make one of these. I don't know what these are called exactly, but I guess they're Mexican-style hot dogs. Just yummy. I had everything on it except mayo. Ok, not a good idea to think/blog about food when I am hungry and should be sleeping. It's the only time I get any work done with a little one!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras King Cake

Have you ever had a bite of this? I had it once at work. It was actually good. I think it's just basically a sweet bread with colored sugar on top.

Pictures from here and here.