I’m afraid I’ve become a little bit obsessed with something. Since my good Thai friend and fellow food lover Sonthaya (Son for short) introduced me to the glories of Sai Uah I haven’t quite been the same, I fear I’ve become a little bit addicted.
Sai Uah is normally known to most tourists rather unflatteringly as “Northern Sausage”. Its a bit of a speciality in Chiang Mai and everybody swears they know the best place to get it; I of course do know the best place to get it, well I did until I talked to Son recently.
The pride of Chiang Mai’s sausage comes in two different shapes. It’s usually made in huge dinner plate sized coils, like great big glistening snakes, sizzling away or smaller more traditional shaped ones that I always feel a bit sorry for. At first being a bit of a dim foreigner and not liking to cause a fuss I thought you had to buy the whole coil of sausage, causing a slight disturbance in the bank balance department as whole sausage coils can be pricey as they’re sold by weight. I soon realized though that you can ask for smaller sections to be cut off that require only modest trips to the ATM.
The best thing about this sausage though is not its size, although it is a whopper, but its taste and the fact that every outlet makes their own or have different suppliers, so they all taste slightly different. Most are spiced with chilli and flavoured with lemon grass, just enough to wake you up, but not enough to overwhelm you. Good ones are very meaty without being too dry and crumbly or even worse, and what my friend hates, “fatty and greasy”. Whenever we travel to different parts of the city we’ll take detours especially to taste the sausage in that part of town. I recently had to get a new exhaust pipe for my very old, but very lovable pick up truck. The decision about which exhaust place to go was dictated by it’s proximity to a grill stall that Son reckoned had the best sausage in town (it didn’t unfortunately).
I’m beginning to feel a bit like my uncle who became so obsessed with fishing that he made special trips as a travelling sales man, not to sell anything, but to fish particular rivers and lakes. In the end his whole life was taken over by fishing, he lost his job and ended up being arrested. Will somebody stop me before I go the same way?
I recently thought that my quest was at an end. Just out of town, and currently number one in the Alex Gunn “Chiang Mai Market Top Ten” I thought I had found the Holy Grail. There is one particular stall, which you cannot miss. At the far right hand corner there’s a stall with four huge grills fired up full of glistening coiled sausage. People clearly travel here from far and wide and order sometimes 3 or 4 complete coils, blowing the equivalent of a weeks wages for a construction worker in one go. There is some heavy duty sausage eating going on in these parts. Needless to say it is extremely good.
I was sharing some of this excellent sausage with Son the other day and he said the immortal words, “you do know there is a sausage better than this”. Now, I know Son very well, and trust his judgement completely but I had a feeling I might be listening to an apocryphal sausage tale; a Thai sausage myth. What do you think? He said that there is a road that leads up through the mountains and somewhere on this road there is a grill stall where they still cook Sai Uah in the “old fashioned way” over a smouldering fire of coconut husks giving the meat a wonderful smoky coconut flavour. Wow, can you believe it? The trouble is I can, and I find myself looking up towards the mountains thinking “how far could it be”.
I can feel myself slowly going over the edge, perhaps its time to book myself into sausage rehab, or detox myself on wieners before I end up losing my job and getting arrested.
If you’re interested in discovering the best sausage in Chiang Mai with Alex and Son, check out our retreats and holidays at www.thelifechangepeople.com