Monday, July 13, 2009

You may be eating Offal in your favourite meat pie...but in kueh chap, you get what you see...

I am pretty sure that many senior Singaporeans won't bat an eyelid to see fresh offal display for sale at the butcher shop or grimaced at the sight of cooked offal at the hawkers stalls. But last Saturday, I was surprised that I was able to purchase pig intestines and pig stomachs from an Asian butcher shop in Sydney. It was a rare buy indeed. Unless you can read Chinese ( I later found out that it was written in black brushstroke calligraphy on the oblong slip of paper pasted on the wall) or speak the butcher's northern Chinese dialect, the offal are not on display with the prime cuts like fillet, chop or loin at the counter. They are hidden in the the cold room as if they are an embarrassment and not fit for human consumption. It isn't always easy to find brains, hearts, trotters and tails, either, as supermarkets rarely sell them, it they do the offal is normally displayed next to the pet food.
Although many Australian not knowingly consumed offal in meat pies or in ethnic dishes (tim sum's chicken feet, tripe in black bean sauce). It was not until 2003 that food regulations have lifted the prohibition of offal in the meat standard, which had previously specifically banned things such as snout, genital organs, lips, lungs and scalp. These may now be added to foods, but must be named specifically in the ingredients list (not just as "offal"). Thus allowing meat pies to contain snouts, ears, tongue roots, tendons and blood vessels without specific labelling. The commercial pie makers may be doing for profit margin but what they have done is not new. The art of charcuterie in France and salami-making in Italy ingeniously preserves the less-promising bits of the pig and traditionally to tide families over the leaner winter months.
In Singapore, pig's organ soup (ter hwang kiam chai) and kueh chap are common features of hawker centres. The former comes in clear a clear broth and consist of congealed pig blood, big and small intestines, stomach, and lungs with the preserved vegetables (kiam chye). Where as the latter is cooked in soya sauce and served as a topping for a rice noodle squares (kueh chap). Offal is not only a hawker fare, many fine nonya dishes also include them. One of my favourites is my mother's nonya tu kua kean (pork liver roll). made from thin strips of pig offal (mainly liver) prawns, minced pork, herbs wrapped in pig's caul. I will post this family recipe as soon as I can get the pig's caul. In the meantime, I am going to share with you the spicy rice sausage recipe that our grandparents enjoyed but many of us have now forgotten.

Spicy Rice Sausage Recipe:

500g pig intestine
500g glutinous rice (soaked for at least 6 hours)
4 cloves minced garlic
50g dried shrimp soften with water)
1tsp salt
2tbsp soya sauce
1tsp sugar
1tsp chicken powder
1tsp 5-spice powder
1tsp sesame oil
1/2 pepper powder
11/2 cup water

Rub intestine with salt and vinegar; and knead again and again until mucus and bad odor are removed. Rinse with cold water. repeat 3-5 times and drain. Heat pan and add 4 tbsp of oil. Stir fry garlic until fragrant, add glutinous rice and add remaining ingredients. Stir fry together with rice until dry. Tie off one end of intestine and attached a funnel to other end and gather the intestine on funnel tube . Stuff casing with rice filling and tie off every 15cm. Place sausage in a stock-pot and cover with water. Cook over medium heat for 40 minute, drain and serve with sweet dark soya sauce (kecap manis) and or sweet chilli sauce.


  1. imagine kway chap without intestines and pig's organ soup minus the offal!