In March, during the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, some Italian residents reported to the authorities that their Chinese neighbors had hung strings of questionable meat in the balconies. They feared those were airdried bat meat. But instead of bat meat, the Chinese family was air-drying their homemade sausages. This tradition can date back to the sixth century and is passed on for generations. Almost every family would butch a big fat pig in the northern rural areas before the Chinese New Year. They would make extra pork into sausages to preserve the meat before the invention of refrigeration techniques. That is why Chinese sausages are associated with festivity, abundance and celebration. Pork and beef are the main stuffing. In some areas, blood (duck blood or sheep blood), glutinous rice or marinated liver pieces are added to make a local signature specialty.
Cantonese sausages are typically non-spicy, and Dongguan sausages stand out due to its short, stumpy look. The proportion of ground lean and fat meat is 8:2. Mix the meat with sugar, salt, soy sauce and MSG. The secret is to add some Chinese alcohol for an extraordinary fragrance. Dongguan sausages are air-dried first and then roasted over a slow fire until the meat shrivels. Dongguan sausages maintain a perfect balance of salty and sweet flavors; it can serve as a delicious appetizer by itself or an essential part of a popular Cantonese dish—bao zai fan (steamed rice in a clay pot with vegetables).
Although there are non-spicy ones, the hot Sichuan sausages have a much higher level of recognition. The proportion of lean and fat meat is usually tailor-made based on preference. Sugar and salt are indispensable, but the sausages with a thrilling kick are Sichuan pepper corn powder and chili powder. Sometimes, chopped peanuts or sesame are added for an extra flavor. Because of Sichuan’s humid weather, sausages will be smoked over firewood after being air-dried. Stir-fried Sichuan sausages with fresh garlic bolts are one of the most common homemade foods.
Harbin Red Sausages
Harbin red sausages stand out among other sorts of Chinese sausages because of its unique dark red color and a special ingredient—starch. Originated from Russia and Lithuania, Harbin red sausages came into being over one century ago. Ground lean and fat meat, raw lard, starch, garlic and salt are marinated two to three days before stuffed into the casing. Its chewy texture and savory taste make it a popular snack on the go. The smell of barbecued Harbin red sausages travels far in Harbin’s tourist attractions.