This week I had my greatest culinary achievement.
I created a recipe for vegan sai ua, or Chiang Mai sausages.
That’s right, veganized!
Now if you’ve never had Chiang Mai sausages, they are pretty incredible. They’re typically sold by street vendors and at markets in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Sai ua are laced with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime and a bazillion other delicious things that come together to create a symphony of flavors. There is nothing quite like them in the world, and they are nearly impossible to find in the U.S.
One of my favorite things to do when I travel and try new foods I like is to recreate them once I’m home. I’m also trying to eat more vegan food (for so many reasons, many of which are detailed in Recipe For A Green Life, The Kind Diet, and The China Study). But veganizing Chiang Mai sausages seemed an insurmountable task–and as far as I can tell, no one has done it before.
Because I had many of the ingredients on hand this week, I decided to give it a whirl. And, guess what? The outcome surpassed by expectations! I hurt my arm patting myself on the back! Seriously, though, I consider this my greatest culinary achievement.
And because I appreciate you, dear reader, I’m going to share this recipe for VEGAN SAI UA, or Vegan Chiang Mai Sausages, with you!
Whether you are vegan or not, this is a great recipe to add to your collection. These vegan Chiang Mai sausages are delicious, and this recipe hits all of those flavor notes that are typical for northern Thai cuisine, but without the greasiness. Note that some of these ingredients may be hard to find, but they are necessary for the recipe, and it’s totally worth it to hunt them down! You should be able to find most of them all at a well stocked asian grocery. Wheat gluten, veggie broth powder and chickpea flour can be found at food co-ops or natural foods stores.
Here’s the recipe for veganized Chiang Mai sausages. Enjoy these vegan sai ua. Yum!
RECIPE: Vegan Sai Ua, or Vegan Chiang Mai Sausages
Makes 8 vegan sausages.
1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/2 T Granulated Garlic
1/2 T Turmeric
1/2 Cup Cilantro (leaves and stems, loosely packed)
1 Lemongrass Stalk (white part only, sliced into discs)
1/4 Cup Shallot, Peeled
5 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
1 1″ Piece Galangal, Peeled and lightly chopped (you can substitute ginger if you cannot find galangal)
1/2 T Roasted Chili Paste (see this blog post for a recipe) or use crushed red pepper
10 Kaffir Lime Leaves
1/3 Cup Chickpea Flour
1/4 Cup Fresh Mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1 T Soy Sauce
2 T Veggie Broth Powder
1 T Vegan Fish Sauce (optional)
1 cup+ Tap Water
Salt to taste (add more salt if you skip the vegan fish sauce or soy)
In a food processor, blend the shallot, garlic, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, lemongrass and mushrooms, scraping down as necessary until you get a paste with some small chunks in it.
Combine all dry ingredients and the soy and vegan fish sauce in a bowl, the paste and 1 cup of water. If needed, add in additional water 1 T at a time until it comes together like a firm cookie dough, and all of the dry mixture is incorporated.
Knead the mixture for 3 minutes, then allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Knead again for 10 minutes. It should feel quite stiff and difficult to knead, and that is a good thing! Be as firm with it as you can; the better the job you do at kneading, the more likely you are to get that toothsome texture you want.
Bring a large pot or pan of water to a boil on the stove.
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts, then roll each into a sausage shape.
Prepare 8 large squares of aluminum foil, and put a small amount of olive oil on each. (I found it was not hard to remove the sausage without the olive oil, so I would say this is an optional step.) Roll each sausage tightly in a sheet of aluminum foil, and twist the ends.
Drop the sausages into the boiling water and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot, and allow sausages to simmer in the water for 50 minutes.
Remove the sausages from the water and allow them to cool, then unwrap them. From here, you’ll want to sauté them in a little olive oil until they are browned.
Serve with sticky rice or jasmine rice, alongside a mix of white vinegar and chopped Thai chilies, for dipping.
Let me know if you try my recipe for vegan sai ua, and what you think of it!
Charish Badzinski is an explorer and award-winning features, food and travel writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, Rollerbag Goddess Global Communications, providing powerful storytelling to her clients.
Posts on the Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World travel blog are never sponsored and have no affiliate links, so you know you will get an honest review, every time.
Find Charish on Twitter: @rollrbaggoddess and on Instagram at @rollerbaggoddess. You can also read more about Charish Badzinski’s professional experience in marketing, public relations and writing.
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
13 thoughts on “Recipe: Vegan Sai Ua, aka vegan Chiang Mai Sausages”
Such great news! I am so going to try theses sausages. All ingredients are totally available in Chico, the land of everything!
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Donna! You are such a gifted chef, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. I had considered adding a little sugar, as you know Thai food balances those sweet/salty/funky/spicy flavors so well. I think you could also dip it in a sweet/hot chili sauce, but the vinegar/thai chili dip is really nice too.
If you don’t need to veganize, you may want to look at Pok Pok, a great Thai cookbook by Andy Ricker, though honestly I think my vegan recipe is much easier as there’s no grinding of meat or filling casings. 🙂 ❤
You can make meat sausages just like you did with the foil boil method. I always take the casing off sausage. Just a weird thing for me… I will get the ingredients soon and will message you the results! I love reading your blog! Makes my day when I see it in my inbox!
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Oh YEAH. I love Chiang Mai sausage, have the ingredients in Qatar and will make this. Is a T a tablespoon?
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Yes! Big T is tablespoon. Chiang Mai sausage is delicious. I hope you enjoy this vegan version! Serve it with a vinegar and Thai chili pepper sauce for dipping, it’s nice to have that tang. Let me know how they turn out!
I finally made these Sai Ua and now have a stash in my freezer. Recently I cooked slices of the Sai Ua into a kind of Thai-Italian fusion spaghetti puttanesca. It worked out great and my Thai wife loved it. In making the sausages I had to use more flour to get the right consistency. Next time better I add less water to start with. The sausages are a little heavy and dry but with some experimentation they could be made less dense. Maybe some “vegan faux fat” can be added, something similar to what Sauce Stache does in his YouTube video for vegan pepperoni. Or maybe shredded carrot and zucchini folded into the dough after kneeding could add moisture and lightness? Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe 🙏
Hi Mark! So glad the sausages turned out good. I should note when I made them they were loose and sticky, but tightened up during the boiling process. I wonder if adding more flour made them tougher and dry? Also, I have wondered if adding rice or sticky rice to the batter would result in a better texture, so that might be something I’ll try in the future. I like the idea of the carrot or zucchini too. It’s fun to play with these and make them your own. Happy eating! And thank you for reporting back on your results!
This is the best recipe for making Seitan I have tried. Truly delicious and versatile. I have used this as the basis for making Italian flavoured sausages by changing up the spices and using red wine in place of of soy and fish sauce. Thank you so much. I had given up on trying to make seitan until I came upon your recipe.
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Valarie, I am so happy to hear the seitan recipe worked for you! And I love the idea of making Italian style sausages with red wine. I can’t wait to try that myself! Happy eating.
when grinding lemon grass galangal
will it break down?
Yes, these should break down in your food processor. Peel the galangal and cut away the tough parts of the lemongrass beforehand. You can even chop these a little before putting them in your food processor to speed the process along! Good luck!
Omg I’m Lao and vegan and have missed eating foods I grew up with since becoming vegan. I’m SO happy to have found this veganized Sai Ua recipe. Kob jai lai lai der!
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I am so glad! Let me know what you think of the flavor and how you would tweak it! It is not fatty like the original sai ua sausage, so that is a noticeable difference–you can use a little extra oil in the pan when you fry them if you miss that richness. Enjoy!