Meat plays an important role as a high protein food in most cultures and societies. The situation is different when it comes to further processing of meat to meat products. South-East and East Asia, and in particular China, have a rich tradition in further processing of meat dating back several thousands of years. Europe is also famous for a great variety of processed meat products. In both regions the desire for variations in taste and flavour, but also the need of producing food with a longer shelf-life than the fresh meat, was the reason for deviating from consuming heat treated meat only and exploring new processing methods.
The other regions took a different approach. In Africa, the requirement for longer shelf-life was met by drying the meat, whereby besides simple sun drying (see page 224) other quite attractive products such as Biltong or Kilishi (see page 237, 241) emerged. A harsh meat processing method practised in West Africa is the hot smoking of large pieces of fresh meat or of entire eviscerated carcasses of small mammals or poultry in dense smoke and at high temperatures. This is basically done for meat preservation purposes, as the smoking reduces the moisture content of meat and the smoke substances add to the preservation effect. However, meat treated this way is of reduced sensory quality. Apart from drying and smoking, the only traditional meat products popular in Africa are mixtures of meat with vegetables (see page 113). This kind of processing was not so much for taste variations, but owing to the lack of sufficient quantities of meat, which was tackled by “diluting” meat with plant products. This way lower-cost, but still protein-rich extended meat preparations where achieved. Some of these products also had a longer shelf-life if they were properly heat treated immediately after production.
In South and Central America and in South Pacific countries no significant own traditions existed in the meat sector and European meat manufacturing traditions were adopted initially. However, afterwards some specific developments took place in large meat producing and consuming areas in particular in South-America, where a number of local products became very popular for meat barbecues (see page 219).
The tradition of meat processing in Asia, especially in China, is much older than in Europe. From China, the manufacture of raw-fermented hams is known (called Jinhua hams), which are similar to the European raw-fermented hams of the Parma (Italy) or Serrano type (Spain) (see page 176). Apart from the hams, other traditional Chinese or Asian processed meat products are completely different from the European ones. Most traditional Asian meat products are fermented for extension of their shelf-life and achievement of desired flavour and taste. The typical characteristic of most products is the utilization of sugar as an ingredient. This is practised for the following reasons:
The most popular product available throughout East and South East Asia is the Chinese Sausage, locally called kunchiang, yuen chang or lup-cheong (Fig. 268, 269, 270, formulation see page 424). It is not a raw-fermented product and the utilization of sugar serves only for taste and low water activity. Fresh raw pork and pork fat are the principal ingredients. The pork fat must be solid, preferably back fat, in some cases also jowl fat, and is prepared by cutting it into small cubes. The lean meat, preferably from the hind quarter with tendons and fat removed, is ground through a 2 mm plate. Non-meat ingredients include curing salt, sugar, pepper, garlic and optionally some Chinese seasonings including cinnamon, ginger, soy sauce (1-6%) and Chinese rice wine (1.5-3.5%). Sugar contents may vary from 1.4% in the cooler north of China to 4% in central China to 6% in the hot southern areas adjacent to South-East Asian countries, where similar products with high sugar content are fabricated. In some places, customers require sugar contents of more than 10%. The higher the sugar content the better the microbial stability due to the lowering of the water activity (aw). Fat contents vary from 30-65%. Some cheap variations of Chinese sausage may also contain starch and food colouring.
The sausage mix is filled into pig casings or more recently also into collagen casings (page 263). Chinese sausages are neither fermented nor ripened. They are dried products and their flavour results basically from the ingredients used. The drying is different to all other comparable meat products. The products are subjected in a first stage of two days to temperatures of approximately 60°C, usually produced by charcoal (alternatively wood and electricity) and in a second stage of 2-3 days at approx. 50°C. The internal temperature in the sausages must not exceed 50°C. Dry heat and not smoke is essential in Chinese sausage manufacture.
Chinese style sausages are never spread or sliced for sandwiches or eaten directly. They are usually cut in small pieces and always cooked before eating, sometimes steamed with rice, noodles or other dishes, giving them the characteristic flavour. The same applies to the Chinese Jinhua ham (see above), which is usually used as a soup ingredient.
Apart from the classical Chinese sausages made of pork meat and fat, there is also the option of replacing some of the meat and fat by approx. 20% pork liver. Manufacture and consumption are the same as above.
Spleen-liver sausage (Fig. 271) is a unique product of South-East Asia. It does not contain meat nor fat but the offals, liver and spleen only, which are minced together with 10% garlic, possibly also with 1% rice and salt and spices. The mix is filled in small or large cattle casings and dried at room temperature. Heat treatment during manufacture does not take place. The high garlic content prevents spoilage during the drying phase. The products remain soft for up to seven days and are eaten raw or fried. After seven days the sausages are dry and can be stored over longer periods.
Fig. 271: Spleen-liver sausage
Herb sausage (Isaan sausage) (Fig. 272, recipe page 426/427)) is a product from North-East Thailand with a very typical taste due to its herb components. Coarsely ground pork plus 20% fatty tissue are mixed with seasonings (amongst them garlic, soy and fish sauce, chilli paste, shrimp paste, glutamate) and herbs such as lemon grass and bergamot leaves. The mix is filled in small natural casings (pig casings) and fried for consumption.
Fig. 272: Herb sausage
Longganisa (Fig. 273, recipe page 384) is a product from the Philippines based on the Chinese tradition. The products are made of ground pork meat and fat, cured and seasoned with a typical sweet taste. They are filled in fresh/dried pig casings, artificial casings or formed into sausage using plastic paper/paperlyne (skinless longganisa). It is usually consumed fried except for one variety that is fermented for a few days, but mostly also fried for consumption.
Fig. 273: Longganiza
For the manufacture of flossy shredded pork (Fig. 274) meat pieces cut along the grain are boiled for four hours and then dried at 60°C in a pan by stirring and pounding the content until the meat desintegrates into its muscle fibre bundles (see page 2). In larger operations specific pounding machines have been developed. During drying 1% sugar, 1% seasoning sauce and 1% salt are added. The final product looks like a bundle of wool and is used as an ingredient for soups, rice dishes etc.
Fig. 274: Flossy shredded pork
A fermented product popular in many South East Asian countries either as snack or ingredient for Asian style meals is Naem (Fig. 275, 276). It is a mix of minced lean raw pork, precooked pork skin cut into long thin strips and cooked rice at a ratio of 2:1:1. Apart from salt and pepper, generous amounts of ground fresh garlic are added. Traditionally small portions of the mix were wrapped in banana leaves. Now it is mostly filled in strong transparent synthetic casings (approx. 35 mm). The products are left at room temperature, where immediate fermentation starts through bacteria producing lactic acid, thus suppressing spoilage bacteria present. The antimicrobial effect of garlic also helps to maintain microbiological stability despite the high ambient temperatures. The synthetic casings used can have tiny perforations to let the gas which is produced during fermentation escape. Alternatively two not perforated synthetic casings, one inside the other, are used, which resist the pressure of the gas produced. Naem is ready for consumption from the third day of fermentation. It can be kept under ambient temperatures for up to five days, after that it should be refrigerated to slow down the fermentation, which, if continued at high temperature, would make the products too sour.
Another traditional Asian meat product on the basis of pork is Moo-yoh (see page 197).
A popular non-pork traditional Asian and North African meat product is Pastirma (see page 238).
Meat processing in Europe started centuries ago with the manufacture of shelf-stable fermented meat products. Examples are raw-fermented hams such as the air-dried Parma hams (Italy) and Jamon Serrano (Spain) or the heavily cold-smoked Black Forest and Guestphalia hams (Germany) (see page 176). Examples for dry-fermented sausages are the Hungarian or Italian Salami or Spanish Chorizo containing pork only or other European dry fermented sausages made of lean beef and pork mixes and pork fat (see page 115). Similar to hams, dry fermented sausages from southern Europe are mostly air-dried, while the ones from Central and Northern Europe are in many cases cold-smoked. The time-consuming manufacture of raw fermented hams and sausages was done mainly in the cooler winter season to avoid spoilage and to take advantage of optimal climatic conditions for curing, drying and fermentation (see page 116).
Apart from the dry fermented products, meat mixes were developed to be consumed immediately after fabrication. These included minced meat products similar to burgers (see page 105) and fried sausages (see page 108), some of them with vegetable ingredients or special spices. Precooked-cooked products were also popular, which can contain internal organs in addition to meat and fat such as liver sausages and blood sausages (see pages 154, 161) and vegetable or grains such as black pudding (see page 164).
More than one century ago the technology for the manufacture of raw-cooked products (see page 127) was invented in Germany. This technique was based on the principle that lean raw meat, when finely chopped, is capable of absorbing water and develop a protein network structure (see page 128), which coagulates and solidifies upon moderate heat treatment above 60C. Comminuting the lean meat was originally done manually using large curved knives or by shredding and battering the meat. With the emergence of comminuting equipment such as bowl cutters and emulsion mills the technology for raw-cooked products was refined and improved. Products of this group, like hotdogs, viennas, lyoner or meat loaves (see Fig. 159) are now produced in large quantities in most countries and have become the most consumed processed meats worldwide.
In large meat producing countries, in particular in Argentina, some local products have been developed. As part of barbecues a type of sausage is used called Chorizo criollo, which is a fresh sausage for frying unlike the Spanish chorizo, which is a raw-fermented product. The chorizo criollo is usually composed of ground pork (75%), beef (20%) and pork fat (5%). Additives include salt, sugar, garlic, red wine, nutmeg, ground pepper and pepper in grains. The mix is filled in pork casings and is for immediate consumption after frying.
Fig. 277: Argentine salame
A composition entailing more pork fat and beef than for the chorizo criollo is used for the manufacture of a raw-fermented sausage called Salame (Fig. 277) (approx. 53 % pork, 33% beef and 14% pork fat). The other ingredients are similar to the chorizo criollo including stuffing in pig casings. Salame is a fast ripened product (approx. 10 days). Ripening and fermentation usually take place in cool rooms.
Another speciality used for barbecues is a blood and offal sausage called Morcilla. These sausages often contain pork (approx. 11%), pork skin (66%), pork fat (10%), liver (8%), tongue (5%), milk, common salt and as seasonings pepper, garlic, oregano and green and white onions. Blood is added in quantities of 30 litres referred to 100 kg of the sausage mix.