Thai naem sausage

I refrigerated the sausage for a few hours to make it easier to cut, and here’s the moment of truth…

The sausage insides came out looking just like the ones I have eaten in Thailand!  Mine came out a little less salty, a little less chilli-hot (the real ones blurred my vision when I ate them) but still packing a fairly hefty capsaicin punch and the texture and sour taste is just like how I remember.  I am very happy with how these sausages came out (and with further proof of the quality of the Marianski recipes).  Anyway, after sampling a few slices I decided to make naem sausage cooked with egg and it came out very nicely, with extra red chillies on top.  I used Vatch’s recipe which hilariously calls for more garlic, which I was glad to use, but unfortunately Ihad to make do without peanuts as there were none in my kitchen.  Still, the dish came out very nicely and I only just remembered to take a photo before wolfing it all down.

Thai sausage: fermentation complete

After 48 hours of fermentation (and some remarks passed about the garlic smell pervading my home – this recipe calls for 100g of raw garlic) I tested the pH of my Thai sausage and it came to well under 5.0, so I stopped the ferment and the sausages are now drying happily in my chamber.  In their native heath the sausage would be eaten now, either as it is or crumbled into a some kind of cooked dish.  I prefer mine a little drier so I will give them a few days.  Whether this sausage will compare to the ones in Bangkok in 2012 remains to be seen!

Thai sausage

Not a euphemism, but a fermented sausage made from lean pork, pig skin, cooked sticky rice, raw garlic and bird’s eye chillies.  I made these according to the recipe in the Marianski book.  They are stuffed into protein-lined fibrous (i.e., synthetic) casings and are currently fermenting away at 30°C.  I’ll check the pH tomorrow when they should be done.  Looking at the close-up photo you can probably spot the pig rind and also flecks of the extra-hot raw chillies inside.  This sausage can be eaten as-is or used for cooking into various traditional Thai dishes.


Bear Sausage

drying sausage

I’ve never eaten or cooked with bear meat before, but over the holidays I had the chance to buy some meat from a bear taken in Iwate in December so I jumped at it.  The meat unfortunately was cut into small irregular slices for yakiniku, so I made it into sausages.  In Japan bear meat has a bad reputation but I found it is delicious as-is (I fried a slice to see) without any off-smells, is very tender and very fatty – not at all deserving of the accusations of being smelly, lean or tough.  I don’t normally post recipes on my blog but here you go, in case you like making your own sausages and know someone who has just shot a bear.

The sausage looks like it might be a bit dry in the photo, but it is not: it is very tender, moist and delicious, as well as being possibly the richest sausage I have ever made (above even puddings, black and white).  The bear is a gentleman so I thought I had better flavour the sausage with red wine and traditional English spices.  The result was not bad.

Bear sausage:

1 kg bear meat, fat left on

0.5 kg pork shoulder (I only used this to eke out the bear meat weight as I wanted to make the biggest batch possible for my stuffer and nor waste casings)

110g cheap Japanese small-crumb breadcrumbs (panko) – these are pretty close to rusk

32g sea salt

205ml red wine (I used a young Pinot Noir)

3tbs balsamico vinegar

5g freshly ground pepper (I used a mix of black, white and pink peppercorns)

2g ground allspice

1g dried parsley

hog casings to stuff approximately 1.9 kg of sausage

Grind the meats once, with the medium die.  Immediately add the wine, vinegar, breadcrumbs and all seasonings and mix till tacky.  Stuff into hog casings in the orthodox manner.  Leave the sausages to dry overnight in fridge (or hang up for a few hours in a cold room or porch, as chances are it will be winter/hunting season).  Bear meat comes with a genuine risk of harbouring Trichinella guests so you need to cook the sausages thoroughly: read up on this subject if you are unsure on this.  Anyway, once cooked it comes out as a very flavourful, fatty, spiced, rich sausage –  you might want to reduce the allspice or add some cayenne pepper instead, or replace some of the wine with red wine vinegar if you want to have a more delicate finish.

Turnip nukazuke

Japanese winter means Japanese kabu turnips – and in my neighbourhood a man turns up in his truck from Nagano every few days with various organic produce for very reasonable prices; these were perfect for my homemade nukazuke!

First fishing trip of 2015

Concluded happily and without mishap.  It was one of those days when the tide, wind and fish shoals all contrived to combine into perfect conditions for fishing and the whiting literally hooked themselves all day – amazing fishing, for those who could put up with the cold.  My Guernsey frock and a hip flask of rum kept the cold out till the winter sun was up and warmed us all up, but I stopped fishing by about 1pm as I had caught over fifty fish and had no intention of taking any more.  This time I had brought my own bamboo rod that I made in 2011 but for various reasons, hadn’t used for fishing yet.  It is always good to have a good catch with a new rod (bad luck seems to stick to new rods) and although the rod could have been built better, it fished perfectly well and I am very satisifed with its action and weight.  After its first trip like all bamboo rods it needs another firing – the first time it is fished the various fibres and joints undergo the actual tensions and strains of fishing and the firing sets everything into place permanently; I will try to do this next weekend.

Anyway, for posterity I recorded the first fish taken on this rod.

Also the deckhand kindly modelled the rod and catch for me also (I caught the fish!).

Whiting can be eaten in a variety of ways but as I was busy in the evening I made simple English-style fishcakes, a family favourite.  “Secret” tartar sauce on the side, of course.  Whiting are easy to fillet and the dish was made in about 30 minutes.

Back in England fishcakes tend to be deep-fried or cooked under a grill.  Mine were shallow-fried in olive oil and served hot with tartar sauce and a salad of tomatoes.  The dregs of the bottle-conditioned Belgian beer went into my nuka!

Whiting fishcakes with “secret” tartar sauce.


Leftover whiting were laid out, cured, seasoned with sake and nori flakes and then sun-dried with the next day’s laundry.  In Tokyo winter these are done in a few hours, the air being so cold and dry.  These are perfectly delicious lightly grilled over a fire.

Thanks as always to Fukagawa Fujimi, sailing from Monzennakacho!

Homemade whiting rod

had a good first run.