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The Great Portuguese Sausage Shootout

Being very proudly half-Portuguese myself of ethnic background, it’s fitting that I do a thorough job of covering one of Hawaii’s favorite ethnic foods, the Portuguese Sausage. Hawaii’s manufacturers mostly stick by a similar recipe that is unique to the islands, setting ours apart from those found on the mainland, and of course, Portugal.

The most popular way to eat it is for breakfast as simply Portuguese Sausage, Eggs and Rice. Comfort food at its best. Most Hawaii restaurants that serve breakfast have Portuguese sausage as an option to bacon, breakfast links or ham, including national chains such as McDonald’s and iHop.

What inspired me to have a Portuguese Sausage shootout is the wide selection of locally-made brands and varieties that fill our supermarket shelves today, commonly taking up to 4 feet of meat department refrigerator shelf space.

So let the battle begin!…




The players (top to bottom):

  • Redondo’s Lisboa Portuguese Brand Sausage, 10 oz., $1.99 (sale price) from Don Quijote.
    Ingredients: Pork, water, salt, flavorings, sugar, sodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate, oleo-resin of parika, sodiumerythorbate, sodium nitrite, packed in collagen casing.
  • Uncle Louie’s Fully Cooked Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage Stick, package of 3 at 48 oz. (3 lbs.) total, $10 from Costco.
    Ingredients: Pork, water, salt, non-fat dry milk, paprika, vinegar, garlic, chili pepper, spice, sweetener (sucralose), sodium nitrite.
  • Gouvea’s Portuguese Brand Sausage (Linguica). 10 oz., $1.99 from Don Quijote.
    Ingredients: Pork, water, salt, spices, garlic, paprika, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
  • Rego’s Purity of Hawaii Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage. 10 oz., $1.99 from Marukai Market Place.
    Ingredients: Pork, water, nonfat dry milk, salt, vinegar, sugar, flavorings, paprika, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, oleoresin of paprika, packed in collagen casing.
  • Aloha Brand Portuguese Brand Sausage Hawaiian Style (distributed by Gouvea’s Inc.). 5 oz., $1.29 from Don Quijote.
    Ingredients: Pork, water, salt, dextrose, spices, hydrolyzed wheat protien, paprika, sodium phosphate, garlic, spice extractives, natural flavorings, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite and collagen casing.
  • Pacific Sausage Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage (Linguica), 5 oz., 99 cents from Don Quijote.
    Ingredients: Pork, water, salt, vinegar, sugar, flavoring, spices, garlic, paprika, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, dextrose, sodium nitrite, sodium citrate.
  • Hawaiian Sausage Company Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage (distributed by Rego’s Purity Food Co., Inc.), 5 oz., 99 cents from Marukai Market Place.
    Ingredients: Pork, water, nonfat dry milk, salt, vinegar, flavorings, paprika, sodium phosphate, smoke flavoring, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, oleoresin of paprika, packed in collagen casing.
  • Gouvea’s Portuguese Brand Sausage Made with Pork and Chicken, 5 oz., $1.29 from Don Quijote.
    Ingredients: Pork, mechanically separated chicken, water, salt, spices, garlic, paprika, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite and collagen casing.
  • Redondo’s Mo’ono Sweet Hot Portuguese Brand Sausage, 5 oz., 99 cents from Marukai Market Place.
    Ingredients: Pork, water, soy sauce, sugar, salt, flavorings, sodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate, oleoresin of paprika, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, packed in collagen casing.
  • Frank’s Foods Portuguese Brand Sausage (from Hilo), 12 oz., $2.49 (on sale) from Ward Marukai.
    Ingredients: Pork, beef, dextrose, salt, soy protein concentrate, paprika, sodium phosphate, flavorings, hydrolyzed soy protein, garlic powder, msg, smoke flavoring, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
  • Kukui Sausage Co, Inc. Portuguese Brand Sausage, 8 oz., $1.99 (on sale) from Ward Marukai..
    Ingredients: Pork, water, salt, sugar, flavorings, paprika, sodium phosphate, sodium nitrite, chili powder, sodium erythorbate.

With (now) 11 players on the “field”, I had to be careful in properly identifying each one for an accurate comparison. While they’re each slightly varied in color and size, for the most part, they all share the same DNA, so labeling was the only way to do it…

As you can see, they all have distinguishable marbeling; some more pronounced than others…

The newest player on the field is Uncle Louie’s, made in Kahului, Maui and available in a bulk pack of 3 HUGE (I mean HUGE) 1 pound sausages at Costco. On a side note to Costco, they also sell Redondo’s Portuguese Sausage in preformed “Spam Musubi” rectangular shapes. How cool is that!

Portuguese Sausage tastes best pan-fried for serving…

I cut 4 slices from each brand, about 3/8″ thick at a bias (diagonally) to provide more surface area.

The only way to give this shootout a fare shake was to accompany the taste test with its true companion, eggs and rice!…


Post edit additions, top to bottom (back to front): Ume Musubi, pickled cucumber, takuan (palate buffers), Frank’s Foods (Hilo), Redondo’s and Kukui brand Portuguese Sausage (uncooked left and cooked right)

Yes, call me crazy. I felt that way attempting to properly plate, sort and label this spread. But tell me that doesn’t look good! Notice I added a couple slices of Takuan, a Japanese picked turnip. I learned this from the mama sans at Tropic Fish and Vegetable market, who makes their Portuguese Sausage, eggs and rice breakfast bento with this. It adds balance, harmony and helps buffer the palate. Try it with Takuan. The best!

The results!..

  1. Frank’s Foods Portuguese Brand Sausage:
    Pork, beefy, smoky and tight; not too fatty or greasy. You haven’t had local style Portuguese Sausage until you’ve had Franks!
  2. Rego’s Purity of Hawaii Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage:
    Slightly sweet twang; mild spices; porky; soft casing; well-balanced overall.
  3. Hawaiian Sausage Company Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage (distributed by Rego’s Purity Food Co., Inc.):
    Smokey!, mildly spicy, porky & moist. Even with the added smoke component, this one was also very well balanced and packed with flavor.
  4. Redondo’s Mo’ono Sweet Hot Portuguese Brand Sausage:
    Tender; porky; moist; hot but spice influence is mild.
  5. Gouvea’s Portuguese Brand Sausage (Linguica):
    Spicy, somewhat salty, semi-beefy, semi-porky (are those real terms?), pronounced marbeling, overall great flavor.
  6. Redondo’s Lisboa Portuguese Brand Sausage:
    Redondo’s is great, but Gouvea’s slightly beefy profile gives it just a little more character than Redondo’s. Still, this is good, and even in 6th place, it’s something I’ll put in the shopping cart on an impulse buy.
  7. Pacific Sausage Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage (Linguica)
    This reminds me of a stepped-down Purity in flavor profile. Stepped down enough to rank about here.
  8. Uncle Louie’s Fully Cooked Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage Stick:
    Significant Paprika flavor; pronounced marbeling gave it a really “fatty” character, for better or worse; somewhat salty; doesn’t taste porky, more beefy.
  9. Aloha Brand Portuguese Brand Sausage Hawaiian Style (distributed by Gouvea’s Inc.):
    More zesty; paprika too noticeable, yet still good; doesn’t taste like “traditional” Portuguease sausage.
  10. Kukui Sausage Co, Inc. Portuguese Brand Sausage:
    Decent, but lacks character. It’ s just OK, still slightly better than the last place contender as follows.
  11. Gouvea’s Portuguese Brand Sausage Made with Pork and Chicken:
    Subtle flavor, not much marbleization.

Post edit: Frank’s Foods from Hilo is my favorite! The beef and the smoke flavoring, combined with the texture, which is tight and not to fatty make this one stand out. And allthough there’s beef in it, which is out of the norm from the rest of the pack, it still screams loud and proud, “I’m the best Portuguese Sausage!”

Rego’s Purity of Hawaii Mild Portuguese Brand Sausage was my overall favorite. With that, it’s still a close contender for first place, but I’ll hand that to Franks. The Purity won a blind taste test by four members in our household. I wouldn’t kick any one of these brands off the table, but if I could only choose one, Franks would be first, then Rego’s Purity. As for Purity, flavorful balance is the best way to describe it. It also caramelized nicely due its sugar component. My next choice also comes from Rego’s with their Hawaiian Sausage Company variety. The added smokiness really serves it well, and goes GREAT with those sunny-side up eggs. Excellent.

Whew. Let me tell you, that was alot of work. It wasn’t easy to try that much Portuguese Sausage in one sitting. After that, I didn’t eat for the rest of the day. That’s how full I was! The spices really give an aftertaste doesn’t go away for a long time. lol But it’s all good.

Next time you go grocery shopping, pick up a few brands of Portuguese Sausage and compare them yourself. You might find nuances in each that I couldn’t find, or a flavor preference that best suits you. Then after that, go on a diet for the rest of the week. I’m going vegetarian for the next 5 days after this. My blood is still boiling. lol

P.S.

Gouvea also makes this “Hot Dog”…


Gouvea’s Portuguese Brand Hot Dogs

It may look like a hot dog on the outside, but bite into it and you know what? It’s pretty much a miniature Portuguese Sausage! Same paprika, vinegar, and garlic flavor, sans the chili pepper. Very porky, including the marbelized fat in it. It’s really ono!


Gouvea’s Portuguese Brand Hot Dog, boiled and sliced in half

Next time I gotta’ try it in a hot dog bun. Maybe with just ketchup and chopped onions.

I also tried Redondo’s Arabiki Sausage…


Redondo’s ARABIKI course gournd sausage made with pork (Mo’ono selection), $2.99 from Marukai.

Per the instructions on the package, I boiled them for about 3 minutes…

They’re sort small, but they really pack flavor! Smokey, slightly sweet and savory in a shoyu-kind-of way, and moist inside. But the most important feature of these little babies is that SNAPPY CRUNCH of the casing. Nice! I’m not sure how I’d incorporate this in a recipe, but just alone as a pupu works for me. Pick some up and try.. I bet you’ll like it.

194 thoughts on “The Great Portuguese Sausage Shootout

  • December 7, 2015 at 4:53 pm
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    Best homemade podagee sausage, I ever ate was from Kona. This Japanese guy was selling it on the off of the side of the road. Three sausages for $10 bucks, white ford truck. I think???

    Reply
  • January 5, 2016 at 11:04 am
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    Thanks Pomai for the Local kine Pordagee sausage blog.  Da Ken guy’s comments regarding the real kine from the  east coast is great but most non-Hawai’i born commenters forget that your test is about the best tasting local produced sausage – da kine that locals love!

    For us island expats, any kind of linguica that we can find is good, maybe not what we remember from home, but a good second.

    So, let the Ken guy rant about the REAL style from the east coast and keep blogging on the taste that we island born peeps love!

    KimoQ in So Cal

     

    Reply
    • January 6, 2016 at 5:10 am
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      KimoQ,

      Ken actually likes the flavor of the local brands and totally respects it. He’s like everyone else, who still prefers the taste of what he’s used to growing up, which for him is the Gaspar’s brand Linguica, common on the east coast of the US. Ken’s not ranting, just trying to point out what’s the the most authentic to actual Linguica from Portugal, which I would LOVE to try!

      While you and I both love it, the Hawaii style Portuguese Sausage recipes have obviously strayed far away — not only geographically speaking — from that of the homeland of Portugal.

      Reply
  • February 2, 2016 at 12:24 pm
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    Pomai

     

    Here in Hilo many of the hunters make their own version of smoked portueguese sausage. It is so different and very outstanding in texture and taste. You often see people selling these on the side of the road with smoke meat here in Hilo. Have you ever had these before?

    Reply
    • February 3, 2016 at 11:55 pm
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      Layne,

      There’s this local foodie website called WOWGrinds.com, where a while ago they did their own Portuguese Sausage blind taste test, with blind taste testing of local grindz being the hallmark of their site.

      Interestingly, one of the competitors in that Portuguese Sausage shootout was from “Hilo Homemade by Nelli778’s Family Friend”. Not surprisingly, it took last place, only because like many of us, we’re used to what we grew up with. So if you didn’t grow up eating those “hard core home smoked” stuff, it might taste too “different” than what we’re used to  that’s from the store.

      Just like if someone offered their AMAZING gourmet homemade mayonnaise made from scratch, no matter what, the preferred will still be Best Foods. Of course that’s totally SKEWED, but some folks just will not think outside the box they were raised in.

      Me? I can TOTALLY appreciate artisan foods made by home cooks, easily knowing its superiority to anything sold commercially, including the said homemade, home-smoked Portuguese Sausage and smoke meat  you mention. LOVE THAT kinda’ stuffs!

      Speaking of Hilo, as you notice, Frank’s brand from there actually won this shootout. And now we can get all Frank’s sausages right here on Oahu at Don Quijote and Marukai. Only caveat, it’s relatively pricey. But hey, so is a buttery, totally superior Holy’s Apple Pie out of Kapa’au, but still…. totally worth it!

      Reply
  • April 21, 2016 at 6:07 am
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    LOL!  So many comments on your taste test!  Good stuff on your site! Please add me to your email list.

    Reply
    • April 21, 2016 at 8:09 am
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      Karen,

      This blog currently doesn’t have an email subscriber list (which it should!), however you can subscribe to its RSS feed for the latest posts and comments under the “follow and connect” section on the right column (scroll down a bit).

      Also, check out the  Index page for links to more posts on this blog about Portuguese Sausage.

      Mahalo,
      Pomai
      The Tasty Island
      Honolulu Food Blog

      Reply
  • January 10, 2017 at 5:45 pm
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    Mahalo!…Thank you so much!!! Yes finally someone knows exactly what I am talking about!  Your Grandfather’s recipe can not be duplicated in taste and now I know that it actually wasn’t…what a shame and too bad for us consumers.  No wonder!  There is absolutely no comparison at all with the original Gouveia sausage of the past, and today’s Gouveia and Purity.  Too bad—my entire family remembers the best Portugese sausage and really miss the original best.  Nothing even comes close to it today…not one.  And for those who knows what I am talking will totally agree.  Although disappointed thanks to your family for the memories!

    Reply
  • January 10, 2017 at 5:59 pm
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    Thanks Aban for the update test. But really can’t accept Franks is the best besides the nitrite/nitrate and MSG? Really not needed and not healthy. But the most un-authentic reason is real Linguiça never never use beef or chicken?? This is an amazing insult and call for t something else!

    Reply
  • March 21, 2017 at 3:51 pm
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    Question Pomai: One of my foodie mainland friends asked me, “Is Linguisa aka Portuguese Sausage made with the pigs tongue?”  When the ingredients list just say “Pork”, what cut of pork are we talking about here?  I myself could not say, but it just seems to me like pork butt or shoulder meat.  What does your in depth research come up with? MIA (Mahalo in advance)

    Reply
    • March 21, 2017 at 7:22 pm
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      Aloha Auntie Donnie and Pomai,
       
      I am a transplanted New Englander now living in Hawaii that grew up next to the largest Portuguese population in the United States where most of the Portuguese sailors that sailed to Hawaii settled with the old world New Bedford, MA whaling fleet.
       
      I have NEVER heard of or tasted pork tongue used in Linguica or Chourico in all my years of eating Portuguese sausage! Hawaiian version of Portuguese sausage is not as spicy or hot as regular old-world Portuguese sausage. I use to make my own sausages when I lived on mainland because I had a cool space to air dry them.
       
      According to James Beard award winning cookbook writer David Leite (Portuguese Azorean heritage); “The New Portuguese Table” By David Leite copyright 2009 Publisher Clarkson Potter/Publishers; ISBN: 978-0-307-39441-5 Portugese cured meat sausage Chourico (show—rdee–soo) and Portuguese Linguica (leen—gwee–suh) are made the same except Chourico is chunkier, spicer, hotter (piri-piri sauce, loads of paprika and red or white wine) and in a larger casing air-dried then smoked then Linguica which is in in a smaller casing milder and a finer grind. Both use “chunks of pork loin” with a good amount of added fat.
       
      I grew up over 60 years eating weekly old world Portuguese made Linguica and Chourico made in the various Portuguese sausage factories located in Fall River and New Bedford, MA. plus a fantastic little Portuguese Grocery Store making artisan hand-made old-world style (little Portuguese ladies white coats and white hair nets would sit around a stainless steel table in back of meat counter and hand-making and packing Portuguese sausages into casings in West Warwick, RI.) Linguica and Chourico utilizing very lean chunks of pork with added pork fat. They made a verity depending on your preference of fat content (fat is flavor) and makes the red gravy when you fry the sausages plus the different levels of spiciness deepening on Linguica or Chourico.
       
      In my cookbook “Making Great Sausage, 30 savory links from around the world” by Chris Koblier copyright 1999 Publisher Lark Books; ISBN: 1-57990-131-X in the recipe for Linguica he calls for lean pork and unsalted pork fat.
       
      In my cookbook “The Great Book of Sausages” by Antony & Araminta Hippisley Coxe copyright 1987 Publisher The Overlook Press; ISBN: 0-87951-682-8 in the recipes for Chourico (Portugal) they indicate Chourico is a Portuguese version of Chorizo, but made with pork cured in brine and seasoned with garlic, pepper, and red wine. Just before the casings are filled, paprika is added. The sausages are smoked.
       
      The description of Linguica (Portugal) in the book is a course, pungent sausage, usually grilled over charcoal.
       
      In my cookbook “Star Advertiser, Hawaii Cooks Series, A Portuguese Kitchen; traditional recipes with an island twist” by Wanda Adams Copyright 2014 Publisher Mutual Publishing LLC; ISBN: 978-1939487-09-4 in the recipes Linguica Pica, Spicy Portuguese Sausage it calls for well-marbled boneless pork butt with surface fat.
       
      Auntie Donnie, hopes this helps you and Pomai with your answer to your friend’s question!!!

      Reply
      • March 21, 2017 at 10:42 pm
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        Auntie Doni,

        As a 5th generation Azorean(São Miguel) Portuguese poi dog to carry on our Ohana traditions from Kaua’i.  Traditionally back n Hanabata Days, when a hog was slaughtered the prime cuts were shared with the family for Luau or Pa’ina like the Festa! And the intestines, off cuts and scraps were made into sausages and the blood was used to make Morcela(Blood sausage).  So likely off cuts would go into some folks versions of Linguiça or Chourico back in the day like ground snouts and ears, but in our Ohana the Filipino aunties and uncles snagged the snouts and ears for Sissig and chicharrones LOL!

        So our Ohana recipe passed down all thoseyears ago, has been refined today to use pork butt or shoulder as you thought, because it has a better balance of fat to meat plus added leaf fat or belly fat diced chunks were added to keep it from beng dry or crumbly.  In my experience making sausage using loin as one reader has suggested is too lean without the appropriate marbling to make a great sausage.  It would be crumbly and dry.  Think of a great hamburger 80/20 is better than 90/10 percent meat to fat ratio same with sausage.

        Hope this helps Auntie Doni after Sinclair Lewis’ book on the awful sausage and meat ndustry was posed back in the day my Great great Graandpa wouldn’t eats anyone’s sausage unless he knew who made it just saying!  Hope this helps.

        Reply
        • March 22, 2017 at 8:38 am
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          Kalena,

          Wow! Now THAT was the total “mojo” on all things we need to know about how Portuguese Sausage became “localfied” to Hawaii. I had a feeling back in the old school days more “Off parts” of the pig were used to make Portuguese Sausage. Similar to Filipino Dinuguan (Pig’s blood stew), where the old school style used more “guts” in the stew, whereas nowadays most Dinuguan you buy from a restaurant or shop uses only “regular” pork meat, such as the shoulder, belly, chops, etc.

          IIRC, there’s certain commercially made hot dogs sold currently, where the ingredients actually specify that it uses lips, ears, snouts, etc. Can’t remember exactly which ones.

          Ken,
          Mahalo also for that in-depth reference to your history of eating Portuguese Sausage from the New England area. Also for those great cookbook references. Awesome!

          Reply
  • September 6, 2017 at 9:50 am
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    What brands of sausage from Hawaii are already cooked/smoked? I like to just take a link from the refrigerator and eat it. No cooking.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2017 at 5:07 pm
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    My father was originally from coastal New England (CT) and we lived there for a time in the 60’s after my grandfather died and we went back to help my grandmother through it. One of the things I remember eating at her house was her boiled tongue dinner  – home salted (pickled and spiced like corned beef) and put down in a barrel in the basement along with vats of home made salt pork and crates of salt cod ( my grandparents were born in the early 1890’s so they were VERY old fashioned)

    I loved it (still make my own corned beef) but my poor Japanese mom STILL remembers how freaked out she was by it – although she liked the salted fish – go figure). It’s funny how many of Hawaii s’ down home foods today originated so far away both distance and culturally wise. probably one of the reasons my Yankee Dad loved the islands so much… :)

    Best Regards.

    Haru

     

     

    Reply

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