Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fried Pork Sausage in Caul Fat

My grandfather died in his late 80s. He lived life to the fullest.

He survived World War II; stayed in the same well-paid job in the same company until he retired; raised a family with five children; and filled his retirement and twilight years with volunteer work. Life was simpler then.

When it came to food grandpa never stinged. We ate well with him around; he would pick the best part of the animal, select the freshest fish and prawn, bought the most seasonal vegetables, and always ensured that food was cooked to perfection. And that meant taste over health.

But -- he counted calories in his own way. He climbed the stairs even when there was an elevator. He walked for hours to visit his friends. He even got down on his hands and knees to clean the house floor with a rag and water. And, keeping an eye on us -- his naughty grand children -- was surely enough to burn off any remaining cholesterol in those arteries! Grandpa never had hypertension, diabetes or whatever: his body simply wore itself out from sheer age.

I guess the lesson grandpa left us was: you need to work hard to get rid of those calories and cholesterol…if you wanna indulge.

Here’s the sausage that grandma would make for grandpa as an appetizer to accompany his daily preprandial glass of brandy. In my family, we used caul fat in several ways. We would fry the caul fat to extract the oil and use it to cook mushroom stew; we would wrap chicken with caul fat before roasting to keep its skin moist; and in the recipe below, caul fat is used as a sausage skin.

Fried Pork Sausage in Caul Fat

Pork                            300 g
Lard                             100 g
Prawn                          200 g
Water chestnut           150 g, mashed and chopped coarsely
Corn flour                    2 tbsp
5-spice powder           1½ tsp
Salt                               1½ tbsp
Oyster sauce                1 tbsp
Pepper                         1 tsp
Spring onion                20 g
Egg                               1
Caul fat                         1, cut into 8 square pieces

1.    Cut pork and lard into 2-mm squares. Using the cleaver, chop the pork until coarse. Mix lard and minced pork together. Never mince lard or it will melt during frying. To have an easier way out, you could blend the pork using a electric chopper but chill the pork first before doing it.
2.    Clean prawn, rinse under running water for 30 minutes. This rinsing process will render the prawn meat crunchy. Cut into small pieces.
3.    Combine pork, lard, prawn and water chestnuts in a mixing bowl.
4.    Add seasoning, spring onion and egg, and using chopsticks mix the meat thoroughly in a circular motion in one direction. The mixture is ready when the meat turns gluey and paste-like in texture. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
5.    Place the piece of caul fat flat on a table. Spoon the mixture onto the caul fat sheet and roll it like a sausage.
6.    Repeat until the meat is used up.
7.    Steam sausages for 10 minutes. Drain and let it cool thoroughly.
8.    Deep fry until the sausage is crisp. Drain oil and cut into bite-size pieces.
9.    It can eaten on its own or dipped into chilli or tomato sauce.

Caul fat: to wash caul fat thoroughly, I normally spoon some corn flour and salt on the caul fat  
              and mix well. Rinse and drain it well.
Water chestnut: occasionally I would substitute it with Chinese pear or apple, which are sweeter in