27 October, 2009

Bangkok Brat

Bangkok Brat
Chicken Thai curry sausage recipe

This episode is about an obsession with curry. Have you ever wondered how to take the wonderful flavors of curry and put it into a sausage? Dude, I have. After months of searching, researching, cracking and grinding, I have come up with not one but two curry sausage recipes, One for the enthusiasts, and one culled from the 'Ethnic' section at the local supermarket. But first let's take a quick look at how this current obsession got started.

The Gift of Curry

It started a year ago. I gave a cooking school friend, Venique, some parsley parmesan sausage to sample. A couple weeks later she traded back some curry. Specifically four bags of curry that she had made with her parents who were visiting from Bangkok. While I don't encourage my boys to trade lunches at elementary school, if you are in a cooking class, bring something to share. Anyway this stuff blew away the paste I could get in a jar. What kind of exotic ingredients did they use? Before she could answer, I think there was quiz on dicing onion or sautéing skate, so the curry remained a mystery.

Sausages in Wisconsin

Fast forward to Labor Day this year. With the last bit of red curry, I made up a curry sausage for friends to try over the holiday weekend. It turned out pretty good, I dare say a blog worthy sausage. But wait, I can't blog about a sausage that uses a paste made by a friend with ingredients that I don't even know. How are you, the reader, supposed to make this sausage? I don't want the blog to be about lifestyle, sometimes I want to give you some news you can use. I guess I better find out how to make a Thai curry.

So I went to the library. I found Cracking the Coconut, by Su-Mei Yu. But before I could read the curry recipe I got distracted.

Punching coconut in the eye.

Coconut milk without the can.

In my fantasy restaurant kitchen, one tool I would NOT have is a can opener, so when Su-Mei Yu gave a recipe for milking coconuts on page 68, I ran out and bought some coconuts. I turned my enthusiasm up a notch by using my grinder attachment to process the meat.

Coconut meat ready to grind

Shreading coconut with meat grinder

Coconut cream ready for use

Growing up I thought the only way to get pumpkin for a pumpkin pie was out of a can. I thought the same of coconut milk. The milk is not the water you hear sloshing around a fresh coconut, but fat and liquid extracted from the pulverized meat. You can even get great tasting milk from unsweetened flakes. Milking coconut is not the easiest process, but for the dedicated cook, it's worth it.

Coconut Cream Pie

It makes a wicked good coconut cream.

If you want to make fresh coconut milk from coconuts check out Su-Mei Yu's book. She also suggests saving the brown husks for the smoker, I'll get to that sometime soon. For using unsweetened shredded I'll give you a recipe in a few minutes.

Cracking the Coconut is great primer on Thai cooking. One of the most important points made in the book is that Thai food tastes best when made at home. Once you figure out how simple it is you may never go out for Thai again. Okay maybe that's a little dramatic, but I can't remember the last time I ate out Thai. I do rememeber the last time I made a Pad Thai for a midnight snack. I feel the same way about Mexican food, all dishes that I love to eat started as a meal made at home, so it makes sense that once you have a grip on the ingredients, the food should be easy to fix at home. Restaurants are left for when you want to take a ride on the merry-go-round. Oh boy I'm getting off track here, Back to the curry.

I cross referenced curry recipes in several books. One worth mentioning is Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Alford and Duguid. I like this book for its description of the different cultures and cuisines of SW Asia and how they are related. In general all the books agreed on the ingredients for red curry, for the sausage I choose to focus on the following ingredients:

Chiles dry
Dry red chiles

Garlic from garden

Lemon grass
Lemon grass

Fish sauce
Fish sauce


And a few spices from the cupboard: Cumin, Coriander and white pepper.

With the exception of galangal, you can get these ingredients at a plain old grocery store. But galanlgal is worth searching out, it is used a lot in Thai cooking. Galangal, galanga or in Thai, Kha, is a rhizome that's related to ginger. Most cookbooks I've read suggest that you can substitute fresh ginger for galangal. Now that I have had the chance to compare the two I think they may be cousins but not kissing cousins. Galangal has piney-peppery undertones that are sublime compared to the astringent ginger. In curry ginger will work but galangal enlightens. I scoured the southland for the herb and only found frozen, which seemed to work, I also have powdered from penzey's which I used for a long time but now have concluded it is not a suitable form for the flavor.

Fresh lemon grass is also a very important herb. Don't bother with the dry stuff. You can find it fresh at Asian specialty markets, or better yet remember it for your garden. I grew it for the first time this year and I was very happy with the yield.

Okay, let's get on with the recipes.

Hot side hot and cool side cool.

Lemongrass Chopped

Lemon grass and galangal are rather fibrous plants that don't lend a nice texture to sausage. Instead of worrying about mincing and mashing I added them to the coconut milking process. So along with those ingredients here's how I made my coconut milk.

medium mixing bowl
rubber spatula
Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth

1 cup/3oz/85g shredded unsweetend coconut
2 T/1oz/30g fresh galangal chopped
1 stalk lemon grass the white (bottom 6 inches) chopped
2 cups/16oz/450 ml boiling water

Combine all ingredients into a blender. Be careful blending hot ingredients, they like to explode. Blend for at least 30 seconds. Pour concoction into mixing bowl. Since the mixture is to hot to handle, stir/mash/message the pulp with a rubber spatula. Do this for two minutes. Strain the milk into a clean bowl pressing out every drop. It should taste very peppery lemon-grassy and coconutty sweet. Refrigerate.

Next I worked on the dried peppers.

15 dried small peppers, stems and seeds removed,

soaked them in warm water for 10 minutes, discarded water, put peppers in the blender, added maybe 1/2c/4oz/110 ml water, and pulverized. Be careful this time because the peppers are spicy hot. pour into bowl and set aside.

Spice mixture

2tsp/8g white peppercorns
1tsp/2g whole cumin seed
1tsp/2g coriander seed
2tsp/14g salt

Toast the cumin and the coriander in a dry skillet if you're feeling natty. Combine spices and salt and grind fine. Set aside.

The Bird.
I like using whole chickens (minus giblets) for making sausage. This recipe calls for two pounds (2lbs/ 900g) of chicken, which is what I got off of a 3-1/2pound Amish fryer. Use the bones and wings for stock. Grind the chicken then add the following:

the spice mixture

2tsp/8g fish sauce

1/2c/120g chilled coconut milk mix (if the cream and have separated use cream first, save remainder for soup.)

Pepper sauce to taste. I used half of my mixture (60g) and got a medium spicy sausage.

1 clove garlic minced

1/4c/20g fresh coriander leaf (AKA Cilantro) chopped.

Stir mixutre with big wooden spoon until is comes together and looks even. Stuff into sheep casings, or make patties or whatever.

That's should be enough sausage for 4-6 people.

Sausage recipe tests

I think that recipe is complicated but worth it. I will continue to tune it, so feel free to write in comments. But let's say you want the flavor or red curry but you don't have the time to swing around to a Asian food specialty store. If you find fish sauce and a can of coconut milk at your supermarket, I think you can get a decent curry sausage.

Supermarket Thai curry sausage

2lbs/900g Chicken, ground
2tsp/14g Salt
2tsp/ 8g white peppercorns
1tsp/2g whole cumin seed
1tsp/2g coriander seed
1/2tsp/1g/ cayenne pepper
2tsp/4g paprika
1/2tsp/1g ground ginger
2tsp/8g fish sauce
1/2c/120g coconut milk
2T/30g juice from a lime
1 clove garlic minced
1/4c/20g fresh Cilantro (AKA coriander leaf) chopped

Grind whole spices with salt and combine with all other ingredients, stir mixture until it comes together and looks even. Stuff into sheep casings or make patties.

I served my Bangkok Brat on a Labriola pretzel roll, with sliced tomato, mustard and a Thai cucumber carrot relish. the relish is dressed with fish sauce, sugar, salt and lime juice.

Chiles fresh

Thai Red curry, make it good, make it yours.



JI said...

U r on a roll. Heh heh. A little sausage humor. Seriously though another great piece.

Unknown said...

This looks great! Thanks for the effort!!

bif said...

do you think the same recipe would work well with prok?

mac said...

Dear bif:

Yes, get some pork shoulder and have at it. Let me know what happens.


Rondell said...

You inspired Rondell to feature more recipes up on my blog so its educational like your own. Take a look see 4 yourself!

Rondell said...

Hey mac! You got a good recipe for cranberry sauce? I mean it's fine with just the cranberry jelly that come out of the can and all but is there any way to add some meats or proteins up in that fruit? Please advice.

CMH G said...

Deliver to CMH Post haste.