• Sao ua is Thailand's answer to curried sausages and is made with red curry. (Instagram)Source: Instagram
One of Thailand’s most famous sausages has a very close relationship to Chiang Mai’s khao soi curry soup.
By
Yasmin Noone

16 Aug 2018 - 10:41 AM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2021 - 12:09 PM

If you’re not sure what to cook for dinner but definitely want to top that Thai curry soup you made last night, there’s one simple solution: use the leftover ingredients and create your own interpretation of a northern Thai sausage.

Sai oua (or sai ua) is a spicy pork sausage famously hailing from the mountainous area of Chiang Mai. Some say its roots could stem back to Burma and Laos. However, the key point of this culinary attraction is that the sausage derives its flavour from the same base as a red curry paste.

Sai oua sausages are curled for storage and presentations, then cut sold by weight.

Although there are a few variations on the recipe, sai oua can be made using some of the basic ingredients featured in khao soi, a traditional curry soup also hailing from the area in Thailand’s north.

“[The paste for sai oua] is similar to khao soi paste because it has galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and turmeric."

Executive chef at Akyra Manor Chiang Mai, Phubase Chuprakong tells SBS it’s a good idea to make both khao soi and sai oua directly after each other to cut down on food waste and boost your kitchen efficiency. “[The paste for sai oua] is similar to khao soi paste because it has galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and turmeric,” Chuprakong says. “Then you make the paste and mix it with the meat or pork and make it into a sausage.”

To make the spicy sausage from scratch, use the dried chilli, fresh turmeric and shallots that are leftover from your khao soi paste. Add lemongrass, a few makrut lime leaves, shrimp paste, soy sauce and sugar. Mix in your mince of choice – use pork if you want to stick to the authentic recipe. Fill the spicy meat mixture into a sausage casing and grill.

Chuprakong, who also runs traditional Thai cooking courses, explains that sai oua is spicier and more flavourful than other sausages descending from different parts of Thailand. It packs a hotter punch than most European sausages, and yet sai oua offers an overpowering sense of freshness garnered from the intense lemongrass flavour included in the recipe.

Use the dried chilli, fresh turmeric and shallots that are leftover from your khao soi paste. Add lemongrass, a few makrut lime leaves, shrimp paste, soy sauce and sugar.

“Other sausages in Thailand are not made with herbs, we only just season with salt and pepper and soy sauce,” says Chuprakong. “This sausage is made differently because it’s got so many herbs in it.”

For those who’ve visited the region, you may have seen sai oua being sold as a street food. It looks like South Africa’s Boerewors delicately curled and presented in a similar way. When they’re sold at the markets, coils of sausages are displayed, piled on top of each other. As stallholders sell more and more sai oua throughout the day, they unravel the coil, weigh part of the sausage and cut the quantity requested by the buyer, before bagging it. You can also purchase sai oua fresh from the grill from street vendors parked curbside throughout the town.

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Chiang Mai is also famous for its organic and fresh produce. Chuprakong tells SBS that a lot of the sai oua sold in Chiang Mai are made with herbs grown in community-based projects. These farms are located in the hills outside the town, which are filled with food and agricultural projects created by Thailand’s former king, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

How to serve sai oua

The greater the char on the spicy sausage, the more rustic it will taste. So fire up the barbecue and get your sai oua roasting. Or, if you’re after a quick and easy dinner, just cook your northern Thai sausage under the grill.

Either way, Chuprakong says, feel free to serve sai oua as a main meal in its own right.

“We usually accompany it with vegetables and sticky rice,” Chuprakong says. “Sticky rice is the main side dish for people in northern Thailand. Finish it off with some special dipping sauce, made with green chilli and Thai eggplant.”

The Chefs' Line is back for round 2 this week is all about Thai cuisine. Home cooks versus restaurant chefs are getting ready to rumble in our kitchen 6pm weeknights on SBS and then on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos, cooking tips and more.

Lead image credit @knickieo via Instagram.

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