One of the great things about Momofuku is the innovative, creative cooking twists Chang and his crew put on traditional dishes. As far as I can tell, the grilled lemongrass pork sausage is based on nem nuong, a Vietnamese grilled pork patty. Usually, nem nuong is mixed up and grilled raw, but Chang, on the other hand, bakes his sausage in pan for a cleaner presentation; after the the pan of sausage meat is cooled, the sausage is sliced like brownies.
The grilled lemongrass pork sausage ssäm is delicious: crispy pork sausage, sharp lemongrass, and crunchy carrot and daikon pickles are wrapped up in crisp lettuce and then dipped into spicy-sweet fish sauce vinaigrette for the ultimate bite of balanced flavours.
This is a dish I could see myself making again and again. For once, it was easy to put together and the ingredients were easy to find. The only thing I had to run out and buy last minute was the lettuce. Chang asks for Bibb lettuce, but I bought butter lettuce, which is apparently a common name used for Bibb.
Buying the butter lettuce was fun, just because I had to walk into the throngs of red and white hoodie wearing, red mittened Canadian fans that are wandering the streets of my neighbourhood. No matter what people are saying about the Olympics, it’s fun to see Vancouver alive and filled with people.
So, simply, the pork sausage goes like this: mix ground pork with minced lemongrass, chopped shallots, salt, sugar, fish sauce, sriracha and flour. The flour helps the meat hold together and keeps it firm and easy to slice after baking. The meat mixture is put into a pan and baked for 20 minutes then cooled, sliced, and grilled. I didn’t grill the sausages, even though I think it would have added some delicious smoky char; it is winter, and living in a condo with no balcony means no grilling in the winter.
Instead of grilling, I pan-fried which turned out great. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the pork sausage was good enough to eat like that, but wrapped up in lettuce with rice, pickles, and cilantro, it was brilliant. Biting into a wrap, you’re able to taste every clean, fresh, individual ingredient.
The only downside to the wraps is the mess, but it’s the best kind of stuffing-your-face, licking-your-fingers kind of mess. Eating messy is enjoyable, but not for everyone, and we had so much sausage that we decided to wrap everything up in rice paper like a salad/summer roll. It worked well and was equally delicious, but instead of a clean, harmonious bite, you taste more of the lemongrass sausage. I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite way to eat this dish, the bottom line is: it’s good.