When I feel like torturing the neighbors, I take out the grill and cook up Nem Nướng, Vietnamese grilled pork sausage. I waft the aroma of this tasty Vietnamese sausage into their yard. That is what you get for taking my parking!
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Vietnamese Grilled Pork Sausage (Nem Nuong). Please don”t steal my pictures. Yes, I”m looking at you Vietnam tour sites!
If you want a little bit more control over the seasoning, you can make Nem Nuong from scratch. Nem Nuong is all about texture. That texture comes from a high amount of fat (Yep. This is why it tastes so good!) and grinding the pork into a paste. To get that perfect texture, select ground pork with at least 20% fat. On top of that, you also add a bit more fat.
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My mother-in-law, who is bestie with her butcher and who fears mystery meats in premade ground pork, prefers to get a slab of fatty pork shoulder/butt and then have her butcher friend grind it up. She also gets pork fat, free of charge, of which she cuts up into tiny cubes and adds them to the ground pork. It”s really all about that pork fat to get that perfect texture in Nem Nuong.
I usually save the fat from my pork trimmings and store them in the freezer. Once I have enough, I take them out to make either Nem Nuong or fried pork fat (tep mo) as a tasty topping to my noodle dishes.
Almost every Nem Nuong recipe you look up online has baking powder. The use of baking powder, specifically Alsa baking powder,puffs up the meat. This makes it appear more voluminous when it”s served in restaurants. It also contributes to the the springy texture.
To get the right flavor in Nem Nuong, I use a bit of Tusino Nem Nuong curing powder.Not only does the curing powder provide the signature pink color (from the added dye and sodium nitrite) but it also provides that unique cured flavor.
I had many times tried to make Nem Nuong without the use of Tusino Nem Nuong curing powder.The reason I avoided it for the longest time was because of the preservatives,sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite. Both additives had been under fire on whether they cause cancer in humans.However, after doing some research,I wouldn”t worry too much about its use. One, it”s been approved by the FDA and its use in cured meats is very minimal. Two, these additives are also found in hot dogs, sandwich meat, bacon, and naturally in many vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and celery. So unless you are avoiding all these foods, I wouldn”t worry.
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According to the package instructions, you can use the curing powder as the only seasoning in the meat to get the Nem Nuong flavor. You can also add minced garlic, if preferred. However, I”m not one to use only one ingredient for a marinade, especially one that is a possible human carcinogen in high concentration (can”t be too safe!). So for my Nem Nuong recipe,I like to use a bit of the curing powder (much less than the package instructions)in addition to fish sauce, sugar and garlic.
Nem Nướngis served in a variety of ways. For the lazies, you can have them with steamed white rice and a side of fresh or pickled vegetables. At the restaurants, you can have Nem Nướng wrapped in rice paper (Nem Nướng Cuốn)with a side of the signature orange Nem Nướngdipping sauce. You can also have Nem Nướngwith rice noodles (Bún Nem Nướng).In a Vietnamese deli, you can have it in a sandwich (Bánh Mì Nem Nướng). However you have it, it”s a classic dish that will surely give you a unique taste of Vietnam. It”s not the healthiest of meats, but it sure is damn delicoius.
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In my recipe below, I’m baking my Nem Nuong as a large sheet. I find this to be much easier than rolling them into balls or wrapping them on skewers. Once my Nem Nuong is done, I slice it up into long strips to either eat on its own or as a component to any of the delicious dishes mentioned above.
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