Sai Ua (Northern Thai Sausage)

Gluten Free Northern Thai Sausage

this sausage from northern thailand is insane. it's spicy, rich, herbaceous and fragrant. there's a long list of ingredients that go into it, and it takes some commitment to stuff the sausages at home, but the end result is well worth it. if you don't have a sausage stuffer, not a problem. you can use a funnel and manually stuff the casings, or you can simply make patties out of the meat and fry them up in a pan. if you don't have a meat grinder (and realistically, how many people have a meat grinder at home?) simply substitute 2 lbs of ground pork for the belly and shoulder. We use long red chilies instead of bird's eyes simply because they're easier to calibrate - if you'd rather use bird's eyes, that's fine too.

Serves 8 to 12, as an appetizer

Special Equipment

Mortar and pestle (or a food processor even though it isn't traditional)
Stand Mixer
Meat grinder
Sausage stuffer
One friend (to help stuff the sausages)
*apart from the mortar and pestle or food processor, the other equipment listed is not necessary if using ground pork


50 g lemongrass, tender parts only; 25 g sliced thinly crosswise, 25 g very finely diced
2 long red chilies such as serrano, sliced thinly crosswise (more if you enjoy spice)
50 g galangal; 25 g sliced thinly against the grain, 25 g very finely diced
25 g cilantro roots, thinly sliced crosswise
25 g fresh turmeric, sliced thinly against the grain
50 g garlic cloves
50 g shallots
zest from 1 kaffir lime (frozen or fresh) (if unavailable omit, do not substitute regular lime zest)
about 10 kaffir lime leaves, stems removed and very very thinly sliced**
1 lb pork shoulder, cut into small cubes
1 lb pork belly, cut into small cubes
large handful of cilantro stems and leaves, finely sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp. gf oyster sauce
natural sausage casings, about 3 feet


Place the pork in the freezer so that it's easier to grind while you make the paste.

Make the paste. Place the sliced lemongrass in a mortar and pestle with a bit of salt and pound until it is a paste. Add the red chilies and pound. One by one, add each subsequent ingredient up to and including the kaffir lime zest and pound until your paste is smooth, omitting the finely diced lemongrass and galangal.

Remove the pork from the freezer and mix with the paste so that the pork cubes are covered. Grind the meat into a large mixing bowl.

Add the diced lemongrass, diced galangal, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, fish sauce and oyster sauce. Mix thoroughly but gently so that the pork remains a bit crumbly and uncombined. Test about a tablespoon of the pork mixture by frying it in a pan. Adjust the mixture according to your taste for heat, herbs, fish sauce etc.

Stuff the sausage casings. Rinse the casings first and make sure you have an unbroken length of casings about 3 feet long. Tie a knot at one end of the casings and slip them over the funnel or stuffer. Stuff the sausages. This is more easily accomplished with a friend. If there are any air pockets in the sausage, use a toothpick or a paring knife to prick the casings and release the air.

Steam and grill the sausages. Preheat a grill to about 400°F. Pour a few inches of water into a steamer pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Steam the sausages until firm, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the grill and cook to 160°F, turning once. The sausages should be golden and browned on the outside.

Let the sausage rest before slicing and serving. Serve on its own or with pickled veg.