Laos style sausages are widely eaten all over Laos and in the North Eastern Region of Thailand. Their distinctive taste has also proved popular with a wider international audience and they now made fresh, as well as exported, all over the world.
Traditionally Laos style sausages are eaten with sticky rice, pickled ginger and fresh birds eye chilli, although they also sometimes used to make salads, but rarely are they eaten with bread as is common with European style sausages.
Confusion about the right name for Laos Sausage
There is a lot of confusion about the correct name for a Laos style sausage, and even more so with the correct name for particular styles Laos style sausage. The most common two names you will hear used are sai krok (also written as sai kok and sai gork) and sai oua. Some sources will tell you that certain sausages are called sai krok and other types of sausage are called sai oua. This is in fact complete nonsense. Sai krok is a generic name for sausage and could refer to an English sausage, a frankfurter sausage, or a Laos style sausage. Sai oua, similarly, is a Lao term that simply refers to the stuffing of ingredients into a skin and pretty much any sausage made in a skin therefore falls under that definition.
Ingredients for Laos Sausage
There are many different types of Laos style sausage, and they vary in terms of what they are made with. The most commonly used ingredient is minced pork, although in Laos and Thailand sausage is also often made with beef or buffalo meat. There are, however, three defining features that Laos style sausages of every variety share that make them different to other types of sausages:
- Seasoning: Laos style sausages contain lots of distinctive South East Asian herbs and spices, as well plenty of lime and often fish sauce. In a Laos style sausage you will normally find lemon grass, garlic, fresh coriander, galangal, and shallots.
- Rice: Cooked sticky rice is normally added to a Laos style sausage mix to bulk it out and hold the ingredients together.
- Fermentation: Once the sausage is made it is left for a couple of days out of the fridge to ferment. This adds an extra layer of sour flavour to meat, which is salted to preserve it.
Som moo is different
Som moo is like a sausage, but not a sausage because it is made not in a skin but wrapped tightly in leaves or cling film. Som moo is made with chopped pork, thinly sliced pork skin, plenty of salt and seasoning and sometimes whole chillis and rice noodles. This mix is left a lot longer than Laos style sausage, typically 3 to 5 days, for the ingredients to ferment. The result of the longer fermentation process is a sausage like dish which is much sour than a Laos style sausage that can be eaten uncooked, although it is often eaten grilled in Thailand. Foreign visitors to Laos and Thailand are often advised not to eat the uncooked variety and, with the exception of som moo made commercially in factory style setting made for export or sale in a supermarket in Laos or Thailand, this is good advice.