In my previous column I talked about the wonders of Chinese sausage stir-fried with cabbage. I'm now going to surrender to another taste memory that centers around lop chong, but this one is dated about 10 years later when I already was a seasoned denizen of Taipei.
|Julienned leeks form the bed|
When we moved back to California, I worked on recreating this favorite dish, and over the years it morphed into its present state, one that we love to eat on warm summer evenings with, yes, a beer or maybe some cold sake or a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio. It's now sausages chez Huang, but enough of the original fingerprints are still visible to keep this firmly in the Taiwanese corner of Chinese cuisine.
What has changed here: first out was the garlic. I love garlic in all its forms, but too many raw cloves can be overwhelming. However, I did want the suggestion of garlic, so I started serving the sausage on thin shards of fresh leek, which has much of the same herbal zing as its earthier relative without all the fumes. I now cut up big pillows of leeks to serve under the main event because, more often than not, I want a big mouthful of that oniony goodness to cushion to meaty burst of the sausage.
That last point is really important because slicing them into long strips allows more of the lop chong to brown and even burn a bit on the edges, so that it ends up crispy and smoky. I like to bake the sausage slices at very high heat, rather than broil them, as the sugar in the lop chong blackens easily. And if you do this in a toaster oven, it will end up as an incredibly economical dish, plus using a small oven helps keep the house cool.
Just arrange the slices in a thin layer on a broiler pan (which allows the fat escape and not catch on fire), bake the lop chong until it's browned and smells delicious, and that's pretty much about it. I drizzle some soy sauce paste or oyster sauce over the leek shards, pile the sausage slices on top, and serve.
One variation on this that we adore is duck liver sausage (yagan chang) instead of the lop chong. This is a darker meat that when done right has the subtle boozy undertone of white liquor, or gaoliang. No matter what type of sausage you use, keep an eye on it as it broils, turning it over often so that all the pieces brown evenly. Snap up any burned offerings for yourself.
Chinese sausage Taiwanese style
Taishi kao xiangchang 台式烤香腸
Southern Fujian, Taiwan
1 medium leek, white part only
6 Chinese sausages
Soy sauce paste or oyster sauce
2. Heat your oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse the sausages and pat dry. Slice them thinly on the bias into long pieces. Separate the slices and place them on a broiler pan. Cook the sausage slices a few inches from the upper element, turning them every minute or so as they cook so that they brown evenly. Remove the pan from the oven.
3. Drizzle the soy sauce paste or oyster sauce over the leeks. (You can also serve extra in a small saucer on the side.) Pile the sausage slices on top of the leeks and serve with a cold beverage.