Chinese sausage is a generic term referring to the many different types of sausages originating in China. It is commonly known by its Cantonese name “Lap Cheong” or “Lap Chong” (traditional Chinese: 臘腸; simplified Chinese: 腊肠).
There is a choice of fatty or skimmed sausages. There are different kinds ranging from those made using fresh pork to those made using pig livers, duck livers and even turkey livers. Usually a sausage made with liver will be darker in colour than one made without it. Recently, there have even been countries producing chicken Chinese sausages. Traditionally they are classified into two main types. It is sometimes rolled and steamed in dim sum.
- Lap Chang (Cantonese) or là cháng (Mandarin) (臘腸/腊肠) is a dried, hard sausage usually made from pork and a high content of fat. It is normally smoked, sweetened, and seasoned with rose water, rice wine and soy sauce.
- Yun Chang (膶腸) is made using duck liver.
- Xiang Chang ( 香腸 – xiāng cháng) is a fresh and plump sausage consisting of coarsely chopped pieces of pork and un-rendered pork fat. The sausage is rather sweet in taste.
- Nuomi Chang (糯米腸 – nuò mǐ cháng) is a white coloured sausage consisting of glutinous rice and flavouring stuffed into a casing and then steamed or boiled until cooked. The nuomi chang of some Chinese cultures have blood as a binding agent similar to Korean Sundae.
- Xue Chang (血腸 – xuě cháng) are Chinese sausages that have blood as the primary ingredient.
- Bairouxue Chang (白肉血腸 – bái ròu xuě cháng ) is a type of sausage popular in the North East of China that includes chopped meat in the blood mixture.
Southern China and Hong Kong
Chinese sausage is used as an ingredient in quite a number of dishes in southern Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Sichuan and Hunan, and also Hong Kong. Sichuan sausage also contains red chilli powder and Sichuan pepper powder, which gives the sausage a special flavour. Two common examples of such dishes include fried rice and lo mai gai. The traditional unpackaged forms are usually found in street market or wet markets.
In Northeast China, a popular regional specialty is smoked savoury hóng cháng (红肠，red sausage) similar to Polish sausages. It was introduced to Harbin by a German sausage maker in 1931. The sweeter dried version similar to southern Chinese sausages are also produced.
In Vietnamese, the Chinese sausage is called “lạp xưởng” or “lạp xường”. It has been incorporated into a variety of dishes from a simple omelette to more complex main courses. Due to the salty taste of the sausages, it’s always used in moderation with other ingredients to balance the flavour. The sausages are made from pork “lạp xưởng heo” or chicken “lạp xưởng gà”, which yields a leaner taste.
In Burmese, the sausage is called either kyet u gyaung (chicken sausage) or Wet u gyaung (pork sausage). The sausages made in Myanmar are more meaty and compact compared to those in Singapore or China. They are usually used in fried rice and along with fried vegetables, mostly cabbage.
In the Philippines, Chinese sausage is more popularly known as tsorisong Macau (Spanish: chorizo de Macao), with the Spanish-influenced one called tsorisong Bilbao (chorizo de Bilbao). It is used in Chinese-derived dishes such as pancit Cantón and Siopao Bola-bola, among others.
Singapore has been coming up with innovative Chinese sausages that are healthier than the traditional variety. Examples include low fat, low sodium and even high fibre Chinese sausages.
Taiwan also produces a similar form of sausage, however they are rarely dried in the manner of Cantonese sausages. Also, the fat and meat may be emulsified and they contain a larger amount of sugar and so are sweeter in taste. These sausages are usually produced by local butchers and sold at markets or made directly at home. This variant of Chinese Sausage is known as xiangchang (香腸) in Mandarin Chinese, literally meaning fragrant sausage.
In Thai, the Chinese sausage la chang is called kun chiang (Thai: กุนเชียง) after its name in the Teochew dialect (kwan chiang in Teochew), the dominant Chinese language within the Thai Chinese community. It is used in several Chinese dishes by the sizeable Thai Chinese community, and also in some Thai dishes such as yam kun chiang, a Thai salad made with this sausage. There is also Chinese sausage made with Snake-headed Fish (Pla chon; Thai: ปลาช่อน) meat.
Chinese sausages are generally available in Asian supermarkets outside Asia mostly in a vacuum-packaged form though some Chinese groceries sell the unpackaged varieties as well.
How to Cook Chinese Sausage
The most common way to cook Chinese sausage is by steaming. The simplest way to steam the sausage is to slice it up and place it on top of rice for the last 15 minutes of cooking (Refer to recipe for Shanghai Vegetable Rice). Not only is this method convenient – there’s only one pot to wash up afterward – but the sausage nicely flavours the rice.
To steam Chinese sausages on nights when you’re not cooking rice, place them on a heatproof plate and steam, covered, over boiling water for 15 minutes, or until they are translucent. You can also cook the sausage in simmering water for about 12 minutes, until the fat rises to the top
There’s no question that adding 1 or 2 pieces of sliced Chinese sausage is a great way to add extra flavour to stir-fries. The question is whether you should simply add Chinese sausages to stir-fry dishes, or cook them first to render out the fat. Some people find the fat bothersome; on the other hand, fat disperses flavour in a dish. It all comes down to personal preference.
When to Add Chinese Sausage
In general, Chinese sausage pairs nicely with rice and vegetable dishes.