Mix Chinese Sausage Into Your Rice For A Flavor-Packed Meal

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Foodies have been enjoying salty-sweet Chinese sausage since the Northern and Southern Dynasties (300 to 500 C.E.). Today, the food is a popular treat for New Year's, but we're enjoying it all year-round — and you should be too. It's the one-stop-shop ingredient for bulking up your go-to rice dish on busy weeknights or for quick lunches. Plus, this protein-packed mainstay keeps your belly full and your body fueled.

Aromatic Chinese sausage is dark red in hue and thinner than standard American sausage. Texture-wise, it's more comparable to salami than sausage, toting a dense, toothsome and emulsified consistency. From what exactly Chinese sausage is made varies from region to region. It can be made from pork fat, fresh pork, pork livers, or less commonly chicken, duck liver, beef, or a combination. It can be air-cured or smoked. But, in general, when people say "Chinese sausage," they're either talking about sweet Cantonese sausage (aka lap cheong) or the spicy version from Sichuan, made with chili peppers. Sweeter lap cheong is the more common of the two, often flavored with black pepper, anise, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon, but either type of sausage will add a strong and unique flavor to your rice. It's all about the oils that are released during cooking.

A hardy, hearty, shelf-stable meat

For a quick, crave-able meal, Chinese sausage can be steamed in your rice cooker along with the rice. Flavorful oils come out of the meat as it cooks, and that tender rice will absorb all the liquid and fat, getting loaded with sweet-savory flavor as it does. Alternatively, if you've already made the rice or are working with leftovers, Chinese sausage can be fried, grilled, baked, or steamed in a few inches of water in a saucepan. However you prepare your sausage, just don't boil it. All those flavorful drippings will run out into the water and be strained away and lost.

You can purchase Chinese sausage online. Kam Yen Jan Lap-Xuong, for instance, carries a variety of sausages made from different meats. Or you can find it in your local Asian grocery store either fresh or packaged. Since Chinese sausage is shelf-stable until opened, it'll often be found near the deli counter in grocery stores, not in the refrigerator section.

Serve your sausage and rice as is, or top with fried eggs, long-sliced scallions, and raw garlic sprouts. To stretch the meal further, stir-fry Chinese sausage with cabbage and soy sauce and serve over steamed veggies like bok choy or Chinese broccoli. You could even stir in some chickpeas for extra bulk. Salty-sweet lap cheong Chinese sausage pairs especially well with naturally sweet jasmine rice. Sichuan Chinese sausage would pair better with nutty basmati rice.