The Sausage King

October 30, 2007 at 4:58 am (Uncategorized)

I have to finish a travel piece today. My mind is currently swimming with South Coast facts but is so far refusing to assemble them into working order, so I thought I’d take a break and at the very least file a new post.

Since Llew copped it sweet yesterday, I thought I’d write a pro-Llew post in the interests of balanced reportage. He may not be much around the house, but as a celebrity chef he really is second to none. As planned, we spent the weekend with Llew’s parents up at their place in Palm Beach. We packed away the David Thompson cookbook, and dragged it out Saturday morning to decide once and for all what was going into our Thai nosh that night. Llew designed what he called his “Ingredient Matrix,” which was one long list of everything he needed for all the recipes combined, and what Katie didn’t already have in the garden or cupboard we procured from Avalon village, including sausage casings (cleaned pig intestines, I think) from the butcher. We were all set, even down to a whole coconut.

It was a case of all hands on deck in the Jenkins kitchen Saturday afternoon. Prep started at about 4 o’clock: Llew was head chef, I was sous chef, and Peter was all ’round scullery slave, since it fell to him to crack said coconut with the remarkable tool they brought back from their years in the Philippines that was specially designed for the purpose. It had a much better name than ‘coconut cleaver,’ but it escapes me now. After the coconut milk was safely in its bowl for later use, Peter also scored the plum task of scraping the flesh out with a zester. Oh yes, some people have all the luck…

As for me, and alongside Llew, I washed, sliced, chopped, peeled, stirred, picked and so on. Llew likes to line up all the ingredients in millions of little dishes just like they do in cooking shows – he really needs his own mise-en-place – so assembling everything for three courses really took some time. And then our maestro stepped up and began to prepare the dish he’d been wanting to make since we first encountered it on a bus in Thailand nearly four years ago: Thai sausage. The one in David Thompson (smoked sausage or sai grop) differed from the one the vendors piled on to sell that day in northern Thailand – theirs had vermicelli noodles and Thompson’s did not. But many of the other ingredients were identical: the minced pork, the coriander, the chilli. Once his filling was all ready to go, Llew fitted a sausage casing over a piping bag and then filled the bag with the sausage mixture whilst we held our collective breath. Would it work?

It did. Like a dream. One big, fat, utterly phallic raw sausage later, we were in business. Llew made two plump beasts and rolled them into wheels that were eventually fitted into a steamer and smoked over a base of coconut flesh (nice scraping, Peter!), tea leaves and sugar. It took hours of prep, but the sausage came off beautifully. As did the dtom yam gung (hot and sour prawn soup) and the chuu chii hoi shenn (red curry of scallops), both of which Llew also made from scratch. Katie also stepped up to flex her own formidable Thai cooking skills to whip up a delicious pork and peanut Thai dip (anyone mind if I lick this bowl…?) and Thai-style asparagus from her own Bangkok-sourced bible.

Yum yum, pig’s bum (and many other piggy parts if the Ingredient Matrix was anything to go by).

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