Chả Lụa #2-Vietnamese Pork Saugage Roll in Banana Leave

Vietnamese food

Chả Lụa, cooked ground pork rolls in banana leaves traditionally.  It is finely ground emulsified pork sausage similar to bologna sausage. The banana leave will add flavor and color to the outer of the roll.  The leaves of Musa balbisiana/Lá Chuối Hột,  a species of will banana plant, are preferred because they have a greener shade after being cooked.  In the shortage of banana leaves abroad, plastic wrap and foil is used.

In the old age, pork has to be very fresh and pound into a paste but  partial frozen or extremely cold ground pork can be emulsified successfully.  Baking powder from France “Alsa” is used in commercial Cha lua but double acting aluminium free”Rumford” works well too.  I can made good Ch̉ả lụa without baking powder and water but water and baking powder help Chả Lụa tender and springier.  Water is also increase the yield of sausage.  Increase water amount will make Chả lụa softer while less water (1/8-1/4 cup per one lb of pork) will make it crisp. Potato starch is used as a binder and prevent shrinking  but I left it out one time and the texture was not too different. Fresh garlic and shallot can be used instead of  powder in this recipe.   Crushed ice can be used in place of cold ice water but the blade may be worn out sooner.

After  being emulsified at step 3, raw pork paste “Giò sống” can be shaped into round balls and cooked in broth/soup or a flat oval, or rectangle,etc and deep fried.  This recipe is less salty than the previous recipe.

Make 2 large rolls (about 1 lb & 4-5 oz water weight each roll) or 4-8 small ones
2 lb ground pork or pork butt,  sliced (with all the fat) thinly or 1 in. cubes
3 Tbs fish sauce and extra for taste
1.5 Tbs sugar and extra for taste
1 tsp black pepper coarsely ground
1 tsp baking powder, Alsa or Rumford double baking powder aluminum free
2 Tbs potato starch
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup ice cold water or 240 gram of crushed ice
1 package of frozen banana leaves

  1. Arrange meat on a rimmed metal tray/baking sheet. Transfer to the freezer and wait until the meat is partially  frozen-outside is harden but inside is not solid about 2-3 hours. Put a large mixing bowl and and a large glass/cup holding 2 cups water in the freezer at the same time with meat.
  2. Take the meat and bowl out. Grind the meat with a large dice (1 in. cubes) or medium dice (thinly slices) first into the cold bowl.  At the end, return a handful of ground meat through the hopper to push all unground meat out . Graduate to smallest dice.  Mix all remaining ingredient in a small bowl except water and add to the ground meat, stir to blend well.  Return the meat to freezer, wash the grinder.  If use ground meat, mix with other ingredients except water and freeze for 2-3 hours until semi-frozen.
  3. Put ground meat to a food processor. Work in batches if use a small food processor.  Add 1/2 cup of ice cold water and process until water is absorbed, add remaining 1/2 cup water and continue process about until the texture is smooth and shiny about 3 minutes total.  Stop and clean the side with a flexible spatula at 1 minute interval.  Cook a tsp pork mixture in microwave 15-20 seconds, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  The pork paste can be wrapped and steamed at this time or transfer meat to a bowl, cover with a plastic wrap directly on the surface of the meat to prevent oxidation.   Chill in the fridge overnight and wrap when you ready to wrap it up. Divided the meat into 2 portions for large rolls or 4-8 for small rolls and wrap them up.  If you do not have banana leaves, just use 1-2 layers of aluminium foil or any heatproof container ( glass, ceramic, stainless steel)
  4. Steam until internal temperature should register at least 160 oF about 30-45 minutes for large rolls and 10-20 minutes for small rolls. Keep the steam steady but no need to have vigorous boiling water.  The large rolls can be boiled in gently boiling water about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, let it cool down at room temperature.  Use right away as an appetizer or in other dish as sandwich, Banh Cuon, Bun Bo Hue, etc or store in the fridge up to a week, or freeze for longer time.

Wrapping In Banana Leaves

There is not enough banana leaves for the outer layer so foil is used here.  Banana leaves are sold frozen in plastic package.  Leftover leaves can be rewrapped and freeze again. The banana leaves is easy to be torn along the vein direction. If you use all banana leaves, 2-3 layers are needed with direction of the veins turns 90 degree from another layer to reinforce the strength.The leaves have two sides:  shiny and dull.  The shiny side is always on the exterior and interior of the roll.  The outermost layer should have the vein parallel with the length of the roll.
Use a cutting board (12 in x14 in.)or a rectangle tray as a measurement guide. 
 Cut one piece kitchen twine (14 in.) lay it on the board
.  Cut of one piece of foil to cover the board atop of the twice. 
Arrange a layer of banana leaves atop of foil, overlap them if the leave not big enough.  
The vein direction is not important here but keep them in one direction.

Cleanse both sides of the leaves with moist washcloth/napkin 
Use a spatula spreading the meat paste into the center
 and form a log along the width of the board except 2 inches each end.
 No need to oil the leaves
 Press down gently to deflate any large air bubble inside while forming the log shape.
Bring both short ends together.
Push the edges close together and run fingers down until feeling the meat.
 Fold the edges down halfway. 

And fold again. 

Grab the twine and tie a knot.

Feel the meat at one end and fold it gently.  Stand the roll up on the fold end
Fold the top edge inward;pressing firm but gently to the meat to form a square shape.

Turn the roll upside down and fold the other end in the same manner.
Cut a long piece of twine about 4 time of the board’s length.  
Place one end of the roll on the middle of the twine and tie like a package. 
Making a loop at the end to help to remove the cooked rolls (Optional)

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