Khmer Sausage @ Oakland's Sontepheap Mkt
On our way to the Fruitvale on Monday, we stopped at Sontepheap Mkt to see what kind of SE Asian sausages might be found. Quite a few actually. In the freezer, Lao and Hmong-style, and on the cashier's counter, Lao style sour sausage. All of these were made in Rhode Island. Then in the back corner of the produce shelf, some gnarly, dark red links were piled up, unpackaged. These are the Khmer sausages, made of beef, fermented and dried, and not needing refrigeration. They're $1 per link and four links tied off per casing.
I asked whether these need to be cooked, and learned that I should fry or grill them. The links are as firm to the touch as an aged salami, but I was told that they get softer when cooked. At home I tried pan-frying, and when it didn't soften, I then added some water to steam it. Still no softer, but quite a bit of fat did render. The beef is coarsely ground and interspersed with chunks of fat. The seasonings have a slight sour taste balanced by a little sweetness, salt, and moderate spice. I can't quite identify the aromatic herbal character. The firmness and amount of fat is comparable to a Chinese lop cheong though these are chubbier links and completely different in flavor. I think I was probably supposed to slice it thinly and not try to cook it whole.
The cashier said that these links are made by Battambang and presented the restaurant's business card. Some other prepared foods at the counter from Battambang that might be of interest include shrimp fresh rolls, green papaya salad, noodles with curry sauce, and anchovy and fish paste (for eating with raw veggies). I bought a pint-size tub of the eggplant and shrimp paste for $5 that I was advised to have with steamed rice and some raw veggies. It's quite pungent and rather than the fermented shrimp I was expecting, this has the flavor and texture of ground dried shrimp.
We also had a chance to try the fresh jackfruit that can be purchased by the piece. It was not quite ripe.
This is quite a fully packed market and I was a little sorry we didn't have more time to study the crammed shelves. What else have 'hounds liked here?
850 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607
1400 14th Ave, Oakland, CA
Besides Lao sausages, I love eating Khmer sausages. It definitely has a unique herbal flavor that I can't seem to pinpoint. Khmer sausages are slightly similar to another type of Lao sausages called "Mum" that's made from beef liver.
Anyway, Sontepheap is a great Khmer market that also carries Lao and Thai products. The lady at the counter is also quite nice and friendly.
re: Melanie Wong
From me? really?...=)
Well as you already know, I'm not Khmer so I don't know the authentic way of cooking Khmer sausages. I like to cook them using the same method that's used to cook longanisa...i.e. adding just enough water to cover the sausages and then letting the water boil until it evaporates...once the water has evaporated and the fat rendered, you should quickly brown the sausages in its own juices. Khmer sausages are wonderful with sweet Lao sticky rice. They're great as finger food. The sausages get a little bit softer when cooked, but not much at least from my own experience, but then again I'm not Khmer so perhaps I'm not cooking them properly. LOL!
Btw, Battambang makes wonderfully tender Khmer beef skewers.