Top to bottom (or back to front): Ume Musubi, Pickled Cucumber, Maui’s Uradomo Farm’s Takuan (ichiban!), Kim Chee Sausage, Pastele Sausage and Chorizo Sausage
In spirit of the popular Portuguese Sausage Shootout, here’s a further spin on ethnic variety in the form of Kim Chee, Pastele and Chorizo Sausages! Who woulda’ thought? Yes, give a butcher some casings, ground meat and a bunch of ethnic flavorings and things like this do happen as we see here!
You can’t help but think to yourself when seeing something like this on the store shelves, “I wonder how those taste? Does the flavor actually resemble what it’s labeled as?” Well, those questions certainly crossed my mind, so nothing else to do but throw them in the cart and give ‘em a spin!
These three sausages are all made by Kukui Sausage Company in Honolulu, Hawaii. Here is each one in detail…
Kim Chee Sausage
Ingredients: Pork, Water, Salt, Vinegar, Flavorings, Paprika, Sodium Nitrite, Chili Powder, Cabbage, Garlic, Scallion, Sugar, Fish Sauce, MSG
Ingredients: Pork, Bananas, Salt, Black Pepper, Tomato Paste, Achote Oil, Spices, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Nitrite
Ingredients: Pork, Vinegar, Parika, Garlic, Chili Powder, Black Pepper, Spices, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Nitrite
As you can see, these are all pork-based sausages, and from there the flavor components completely take a different course.
Hawaii’s culinary scene is no stranger to these three flavors due to the contributions of our fellow Korean (Kim Chee), Puerto Rican (Pastele) and overall Latino (Chorizo) folks.
So how do they taste? First of all, notice that I accompany these rather heavy-hearted foods with my trusty Ume Musubi, Takuan and pickled cucumber. These help buffer the palate and also bring balance to an otherwise oily affair.
Right down to it, the Kim Chee and the Pastele both taste as advertised. The Kim Chee sausage taste like Kim Chee-flavored pork and the Pastele Sausage tastes like a “porky” pastele. That really is the best and only way I can explain it.
With the Kim Chee sausage, there’s actual slices of cabbage mixed in it, so the texture further reinforces and convinces you what it’s supposed to be. I would recommend they make this one a little more spicy-hot; not too hot, but more than what it is so that you really are convinced this IS Kim Chee sausage. Still, that flavor is there and you know it upon first bite.
Here you can see a slice of Kim Chee cabbage in the sausage…
I can see cutting this into cubes and adding it to the classic Kim Chee Fried Rice.
In truth, I didn’t like the Chorizo Sausage at all. It lacked quality in flavor, tasting mostly like a spicy porky “something”. Worst of all, it falls apart as it cooks, turning into basically a sauteed ground pork with a strangely-spiced flavor profile. There’s no way this even comes close to that good stuff in the green can.
My favorite, and certainly the one shining with the most character and most true to it’s labeled name is the Pastele Sausage. While I won’t say you can taste the bananas in it, there’s something about that ingredient that gives this sausage its signature flavor. It’s really hard for me to describe this, but it’s really good and taste, well, like Pastele Sausage! Shouldn’t it?
You can sort of see the complexity involved in this cross section of the Pastele Sausage…
This is certainly one you must pick and try if you like the flavor of Peurto Rican style Pasteles.
Any of these three would be a welcome addition to an ethnically-charged fried rice.
1st place: Pastele Sausage
2nd place: Kim Chee Sausage
3rd place: Chorizo Sausage
Once again, I highly recommend the Pastele Sausage if you like pasteles. This hits home.
Kukui Sausage Company
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
P.S. I’ve added Frank’s Foods (Hilo), Redondos (duh!) and Kukui brand Portuguese Sausage to “The Great Portuguese Sausage Shootout” entry.