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This Thai sausage recipe is for Sai Oua, one of northern Thailand’s most famous foods. Easy to make, it combines minced pork infused with a blend of spices and herbs for the most flavor-packed sausage you’ll ever have. Travel to Thailand with just one bite of this northern Thai sausage.
What Is Thai Sausage?
Sai Oua, also known as Thai sausage, is a northern Thai sausage and one of Chiang Mai’s, if not northern Thailand’s, most famous foods. It is also one of our favorite Chiang Mai traditional foods.
This Thai sausage is made from minced pork, combined with a variety of ingredients such as chilies, garlic, shallots, and locally grown spices and herbs.
This Thai sausage is called Sai Oua. The word “oua” means to “fill” or ”stuffed” and the word “sai” means “intestine.”
So when translated to English, “Sai Oua” means “stuffed intestines.” In this case, the sausage is stuffed with minced pork and Thai herbs.
This northern Thai sausage can be very spicy depending on how it is prepared. The recipe calls for fresh bird chilies or chili powder and you can adjust the amount in this Thai sausage recipe.
The Origins of the Sai Oua – Northern Thai Sausages
Sai Oua, also spelled Sai Ua is from northern Thailand with some saying the roots of these Thai sausages stem back to Burma or Laos.
Interestingly, while exploring the local specialties in Laos, we discovered Laos sai oua, which is similar, but not as spicy.
In northern Thailand, this Thai sausage is revered. Sai Oua sausages are traditionally made and eaten at home.
Although, you’ll find this flavor-packed sausage at local markets sizzling on a hot grill giving off its fragrant aromas.
Discovering Thai Sausage or Sai Oua in Chiang Mai
While exploring the local food specialties in Chiang Mai, we fell in love with the northern Thai sausage almost to the point of obsession.
Eager to learn how to make it from scratch we asked locals for recommendations. A Chef’s Tour, a food tour company we partner with introduced us to Auntie Rod, for a cooking class experience.
Auntie Rod is one of Chiang Mai’s most famous sausage makers and has been featured on the Gordon Ramsay Show. She is considered the “Queen of Sai Oua.”
For several hours, we had fun learning the ingredients and techniques to make traditional northern Thai sausage.
We used a mortar and pestle to grind and mix everything together. We also hand-stuffed pig intestine sausage casing for the first time, which was a comedy of errors.
And finally, we cooked the Thai sausage on the grill until it turned golden brown in color, cooked perfectly on each side.
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Thai Sausage Recipe – How To Make Sai Oua
Making Thai sausage at home is not complicated and requires only a few key ingredients.
- Ground pork
- Natural pork sausage casings
- Twine for tying the sausage
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE TIPS: If you love Thai food and want to make other traditional Thai recipes, see our other favorite traditional recipes.
Thai Sausage Recipe Tips
How To Make Sai Oua Sausages Traditional Way vs Easy Way
Traditionally, northern Thai sausages are prepared by hand from start to finish. The ingredients are typically mixed together using a mortar and pestle.
The easiest way to grind all ingredients together is by using a blender or grinder.
A blender or grinder shreds the ingredients which doesn’t guarantee maximum flavor and aroma release. But, it can process a higher volume of ingredients.
The pestle and mortar can only work with a small number of Ingredients but can grind it finer and keep much better flavors of the ingredients.
How To Stuff Thai Sausage In The Casing
Hog casings or pork sausage casings are the traditional choice for making Thai sausages.
You can find hog casings at your local butcher or meat shop.
Alternatively, you can also have the hog casings delivered to your home via Amazon.
When you get your pork casings, first rinse them to remove the salt. Open one end of the casing and it up with water like a balloon. Squeeze the water out and rinse the inside of the casing
To stuff the Thai sausages, a simple sausage stuffer machine makes the process easier and faster.
If you don’t have a sausage stuffer machine, you can use a metal tube or funnel to stuff the casings with the sausage mixture.
Once the casings are filled, close both ends with twine and close with a tie. If you don’t want to make sausages, you can make patties or meatballs with the pork mixture instead.
How To Cook the Sai Oua Sausages
In Chiang Mai, we learned to cook Thai sausages in the traditional way, which is on the grill.
Grilling, especially over charcoal adds the best smokey flavors to the sausages.
If you don’t have a grill, you can cook the Sai Ua sausages in a non-stick pan, though the flavors may not be the same.
How to Avoid Thai Sausage Bursting When Cooking
The best way to cook northern Thai sausages is over low heat when grilling. This prevents them from exploding when cooking.
Try to cook them on the side of the grill and turn them every few minutes to cook them evenly.
If you are cooking the sausages using a skillet, allow the sausages to cook over low heat until they are gently browned.
How To Eat and What to Serve With Sai Oua Sausages
In Chiang Mai, Sai Oua sausages are generally eaten with sticky rice and crispy vegetables like cabbage leaves, cucumbers, and fresh chilies.
At home, we recommend having Thai sausages with rice and vegetables or accompanying a fresh salad.
The presentation of Sai Oua sausages is particular and is part of the ceremony of eating them.
In Thailand, the sausages are sliced at a right angle and served on a banana leaf.
As they are typically hot from the grill, you also have a stick to pick up the sausage slices.
How Long Can You Keep Homemade Sai Oua Sausage?
Homemade Sai Oua sausages can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days after they are cooked.
In the freezer, the cooked sausages can be stored for up to 30 days.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE TIP: To go along with your Thai sausage, consider pairing it with a delicious salad from Laos. Get the recipe Lao Papaya Salad Recipe: How To Make The Famous Laotian Salad
Sai Oua Thai Sausage Step-by-Step Instructions
Mix Ingredients to Make Sausage Mixture
Using a mortar and pestle or blender, combine the lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves, shallots, and garlic cloves until finely grated. Mix together with the pork sausage mixture until everything is blended together.
Stuff Thai Sausages
Place a funnel or metal tube on one end of the pork casing and gently stuff the sausage meat. Do not overstuff it. Once you have a five to six-inch sausage link formed, tie the end using twine.
Cook The Sausages
Cook the northern Thai sausage using a skillet on the grill. Allow the sausage to cook between 20 to 30 minutes, gently turning it until it turns golden brown.
Sai Oua: Thai Sausage Recipe
- Start by rinsing the pork casings to remove all the salt, and run water all the way through the casings.
- Soak the pork casings in warm water for about 1 hour before using them. They should be soft and slick making them easier to use.
- While the pork casings are soaking, start making the ingredients for the sausage mixture.
- In a pestle and mortar combine lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, shallots, and garlic cloves. Grind until everything is mixed well.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, pork belly fat, and mixed herbs together.
- Season with sugar, fish sauce, and chili powder. Use your hands and mix well.
- Let the mixture marinate until the pork casings are ready or at least one hour in the fridge.
- Take one end of the sausage casing and attach it to the end of a sausage funnel or sausage stuffing machine.
- Having an extra set of hands in the kitchen is helpful so that one holds the slippery sausage casing while the other one pushes the meat through.
- Slowly stuff the casings into long coils. Ignore any air bubbles that form in the sausage stuffing process.
- Once you have about 5 to 6 inches stuffed, tie a knot at the end of the sausage.
- At this point, you can either continue stuffing the pork casings into coils. Or you can pinch off the casing every 5 to 6 inches to make sausage links. Don’t forget to tie the ends using twine.
- Grill the sausages on low heat for about 35 minutes until golden brown.
- Allow sausages to rest for 5 minutes before cutting up and serving
- Grill the Thai sausages for the best flavors and aromas or you can also cook them in a skillet.
- If you like spicy food, feel free to adjust the amount of chili powder in this recipe.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
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