Dec 20, 2011

Mum (Fermented Elk Liver Sausage)

Above one very fresh elk heart and liver taking up most of the sink

One of the good parts about cutting up one’s own meat is that you get to make use of what many call “the fifth quarter”.

One hurdle to using the “other” parts to their full potential is getting them in the first place. When confronted with the enormity of hundreds of pounds of steaming warm meat lying on the ground I have a hard time thinking beyond the logistics of getting that huge heavy mass back home and into butcher paper packages in the freezer.

By the time I’ve pulled the whole heart/lung/liver/gut sack/intestine mess out of the body cavity and rolled it onto the snow, I’ve about had enough of getting up close and personal with the big pile of other bits. The heart, lungs, liver portion sits above anything that could be called guts and is a good place to start.

Today I’m writing about liver. Elk livers are packed chock full of vitamins, there are nutrients the elk can’t find all winter while the grass is dead and the snow is deep, the supply of those nutrients is stored in the liver.

above after careful trimming I ground smaller pieces into hamburg

Mum is a traditional way preserving liver without refrigeration.

The recipe is actually pretty straightforward and uses basic ingredients every Lao household already has.

You start with grinding up fresh meat and follow it with a lot less fresh liver. We used 1000 grams of ground meat to 300 grams of liver. In a large bowl we mixed it with a cup of precooked sticky rice which we’d whetted so that it was slippery instead of sticky half a cup of chopped garlic, half a cup of lemon grass, and fifteen kafir lime leaves. The lemon grass was the round part not the flat sharp leaves, sliced thin across the grain then chopped in the food processor, the kafir leaves were simply sliced very thin. Also a couple table spoons of salt.

above lemon grass grown in the pot

above kafir lime
Sticky rice cooking in the pot

The entire concoction was kneaded for ten minutes of so in the bowl then run through the meat grinder one more time with the sausage adapter at the end inserted into casing from a pig. Our first use of the sausage adapter for the grinder, I think the regular sausage maker is better, tighter sausages even if it takes a little more work to push.

The liver besides storing vitamins, filters things out from the blood, I don’t eat liver from raised animals, I’m too worried about antibiotics and growth hormones or gosh knows what all.

My fellow blogger over at Lao Cook calls sticky rice “Lao Rice” in that Laos is the only country in the world where all the inhabitants eat it as their every day rice. There are other rices called sticky from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, or wherever but they are an entirely different rice. In Laotian and Thai language the rice is called kao niao, sometimes called glutinous rice it contains no gluten. If you’ve never had kao niao then you’ve been leading a deprived existence and you need to buy a steamer, a basket, the book Food from Northern Laos, and start living the good life.

Lemon grass is sold at many Asian markets these days. You need to buy some that has the bottom of the stalk or root bulb attached, plant it in a large pot, and you’ll never need to buy again.

Kafir lime is more problematic. Most people cultivate a tree. Unless you live in Socal or Florida that means a house plant, hopefully an overgrown houseplant. Leaves are useless dried, sometimes they’re sold fresh or frozen at Lao Markets here in the US.

Finished sausages off the grinder

Back to sausage. After being put out in the sun inside the protection of the screened jerky maker to remove most of the water they are allowed to further ferment and dry inside the house for a couple of weeks. The starch in the rice is some kind of kick starter in the fermentation so that the meat ferments as apposed to rotting. We cook them all then freeze them, so that they can be thawed and eaten on at moment’s notice as hors d'oeuvres, The sausage is sliced into bite sized pieces and served with raw green onions and hot sticky rice on the side.

drying mum

done mum


Ngeun said...


I really like reading your blog, especially the posts about Lao food and Lao village life. They're very entertaining and a great insight! Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories. Your photos of Lao food look really good! They look very traditional and appetizing. I am starting a blog on Lao food and I was hoping that I can add a link to your website?



Somchai said...

I'd be happy to, what's the link?

Somchai said...

I'd be happy to, what's the link?

Food for Hunters said...

That was an amazing post! I didn't even know you had a blog. We will be checking back for sure. Where did you harvest the elk? I can't even imagine how big an elk liver can get. I will show Rick this post when he gets home.


Elliot said...

Best thing to be used for sausages making. Elk liver, awesome, grind fine through that machine.

Lala Souksavat said...

Did you also use the heart? Also as far as the "fresh meat" - are there particular cuts I should use! When you continue th during process in the house, do you leave it to hang dry or is it this in a closed container?

Lala Souksavat said...

*continje the curing process not "continue th..."