I can’t be trusted to keep things quiet. Especially when I discover something exceptional, or a bargain. Or even, something exceptional that is a bargain.
Which is why I couldn’t help telling the whole municipality about Hahn’s Quality Meats, an innovative Korean butchery in my locality. So I wrote about for my local paper. This blog post is an edited version of articles I wrote for Strathfield Scene in October.
A twist on an Aussie favourite
John Cho is not content with just selling Korean cuts of Australian meat at Hahn’s Quality Meats. The owner of arguably Sydney’s biggest Korean butchery is a purveyor with a mission.
Mr Cho’s mission? To get Australians cooking Korean flavours at home. And what better way to do this than by injecting a Korean kick into the all-Australian snag.
To the chagrin of my snag-loving children, I find regular sausages too fatty and too salty at the best of times. We seldom have them.
But the occasional Hahn’s sausage is okay. Unusual features are their original flavours and textural interest. As a bonus, some are leaner than a regular sausage can ever dream of being.
So here’s a run-down on Hahn’s house-made sausages, all in original flavours devised by Mr Cho (about $15/kg). To the delight of my children, I put them through a sausage taste test one afternoon.
Guide to Sausages – The Taste Test Results
1. The 1st prize goes to…Beef Bulgogi Sausage
Below: Beef bulgogi sausage on far left.
WHAT ELSE: The first prize was awarded by my kids, after tasting the whole range of sausages. More significantly for Hahn’s, though, the first prize was also awarded by the Australian Meat Industry Council in this year’s Regional Sausage King Competition.
2. Joint 2nd prize goes to…Honey and Corn Chicken Sausage
TASTE: The sweetness of honey comes through clearly. Plump corn kernels add texture to the soft sausage.
~ Look away, Sarah Wilson of sugar-free diet fame and author of I Quit Sugar. This is One. Sweet. Sausage. The honey makes it caramelise in a flash.
~ To take advantage of this, half-cook the whole sausage, then slice it and continue cooking the slices to get… ♥ ♥ ♥ more browned surfaces ♥ ♥ ♥. Carcinogen, schmarcinogen.
~ Sweet-toothed Child #1 exclaims with delight: “This is like…like…caramelised popcorn, mum!” I agree.
~ Savoury-toothed Child #2 demurs: “No offence, mum, but I think sausages should be salty, not sweet.”
Below: Left – Honey and corn chicken sausage.
Right – Spinach and pine nut chicken sausage.
Koreans love their pine nuts. You’ll find them resting on sweet rice cakes, floating in chilled fruit drinks, and even as the hero ingredient in pine-nut porridge.
Spinach is pretty popular too, often starring in its own banchan (Korean side dish), and appearing in various mixed noodle or rice dishes.
TASTE: With its more conventional, savoury taste, this sausage garners high scores from savoury-toothed Child #2. It is surprisingly but not overly peppery, with a hint of spice which could be nutmeg.
4. Continental beef sausage
This sausage has a unique flavour, if not a conventional Korean taste. With a flavour profile tending towards the European, it could be a taste of things to come, as Cho has alluded to German-style sausages in the Hahn’s pipeline.
Below: Continental sausages in far left of pan, and on far right of leaves.
CONTAINS: Kidney beans, a spice mix of nutmeg, cumin, caraway and coriander, and bits of cheese that melt into a luscious crust – as pictured above (extreme left sausages in the pan).
TASTE: Pleasantly moist, yet leaner and less salty than regular sausages, thanks to the kidney beans.
WHAT ELSE: Those kidney beans also get a big health tick for their cholesterol-lowering fibre – surely helpful when eating sausages!
5. Chilli Chicken Sausage
The racy red chilli chicken sausage is explosively hot. Even Mrs Cho says it is hot. Eat it by itself, if you dare (step away, kids).
Below (centre): Chilli chicken sausage
TASTE: Very spicy and very smoky, from a generous hand with gochukaru (Korean pepper powder). Once your tastebuds recover, try to discern the sweet undertone. Also quite fatty, which explains its soft texture.
~ This sausage is quick to caramelise – watch it like a hawk when cooking.
~ Being intensely flavoured and fatty, this is not a sausage I want to eat on its own.
~ But those qualities make it perfect for fried rice, and an interesting substitute for my usual siu yok. I start by rendering the cut-up sausage in a medium-hot non-stick pan with no oil. For a complete recipe for fried rice using leftover sausages, see p18 of Strathfield Scene (October 2013 issue) at http://www.ourstrathfield.com.au/.
What’s that leaf? Or: how to have your steak and eat it.
Some readers might be wondering what a heart-shaped leaf is doing in all my sausage pictures. Not a mere garnish, for me the perilla leaf is an essential part of a ssam (Korean for “wrap”).
Herein lies the Korean secret to enjoying meat in a satisfying yet healthy way. Instead of scoffing a slab of steak, try this ingenious tactic that’ll appease your cardiologist.
HEALTH TIP: On a lettuce or perilla leaf, place:
– a bite-sized piece of meat (steak or sausage or even mince or Cantonese roast pork siu yok),
– raw garlic (optional!) and
– a smear of hot mustard or ssamjang (a Korean spiced bean paste).
Wrap. Devour the leafy parcel in one meaty, crunchy, salty, piquant – and healthy – mouthful. Just as the doctor advised.
Speaking of doctors, I used to see one who has the sinews and initials of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Every year, Dr A would quiz me about my diet. While I was getting increasingly puffed on his treadmill (all part of the test to determine my “biological age”; oh, to be biologically 21 forever), he would:
- brandish a ladle to show how much (read: little) cooked rice I should eat, as a maximum, and
- remind me that my serve of meat at mealtimes should be no bigger than a deck of cards.
A deck of cards! I love that comparison, because it conveys a crystal clear picture with brevity. No wriggle room there.
That is why, after a decade, I still remember Dr A’s advice. And it’s easy to follow that advice when I have the Korean ssam up my sleeve (or on my plate). Curious about the perilla leaf? Find out what it tastes like here.
Other Interesting Meats from Hahn’s
1. Smoked duck
This one got me very intrigued. Using local Tinder Creek ducks, Mr Cho marinates boneless fillets in tumbling equipment, then hot-smokes them with oak.
Each ±500g fillet is sliced and sold in a pack priced at about $20. Expensive, yes, though unprocessed duck meat is already dear to begin with, and I’d regard this as an occasional luxury.
Still, I probably got more bang for my buck/duck compared to eating smoked duck that’s offered in specialised Korean BBQ restaurants.
Below: Smoked duck, before grilling.
WHAT ELSE: Streaky to begin with, as it is at least 33% fat. Grill it to render off some fat. Definitely eat this in moderation, and with accompaniments – either rice or ssam; great with mustard. My kids were desperate for more.
2. Wagyu beef
During one of my food tours, I introduced an epicurean couple to Hahn’s. So enamoured were they that they returned the next morning to buy more, and again for a few weekends after that.
They are part of the savvy shoppers here for the well-priced, 100-day grain-fed, Australian wagyu beef in various cuts and pre-packed portions, with prices starting from $45/kg.
Mr Cho tells me that grain-feeding produces marbling. That’s the fat threaded within the meat like a network. When cooked, that fat dissolves into tasty tenderness.
Marbling scores range from 1 to 10. Higher score = More marbling = More expensive. According to Mr Cho, restaurant-grade wagyu has a score of about 7. Grade 10 would be almost entirely fat.
3. Marinated meats
Many ajummas (middle-aged Korean ladies; can also mean married women) buy the marinated meats to cook at home.
FITK: What, don’t they do their own marinades?
Mr Cho (gaily): No! They’re too busy!
In the red section, from $10.50/kg, there are striated pork belly slices and bite-sized chicken thigh pieces in a sweet but spicy chilli paste marinade. My favourite is the chicken for using skinless, moist, lean-ish thigh meat.
In a thoughtful touch, Hahn’s staff pack all purchased marinated meats in boxes, and cling-wrap the boxes. This minimises schlepped spills in transit.
You could conceivably fuel an all-day barbecue by shopping at this place, and not have to cut up a single piece of raw meat. And I haven’t even mentioned the Korean beef burgers or the freezer delights.
Get your free sausages here!
Mrs Cho kindly gave me more than enough Hahn’s vouchers to slip into showbags for my FITK food trail at the Strathfield Food Festival this Sunday 27/10/2013.
Regular readers know I bang on about top VFM (value for money) all the time; well, this showbag has it in spades – just click this link to see what the showbag looks like.
The Hahn’s Quality Meats voucher entitles the holder to 5 free beef bulgogi sausages – yes, the ones that won first prize – at their Homebush shop. No minimum purchase required.
I’m giving away 2 vouchers to each reader who comments on this post by 29/10/2013, while stocks last (that’s about $13 worth of artisan sausages). Hahn’s isn’t paying me to do this; I just have a whole wad of vouchers to spare.
Here’s how it works. Do the following by 29/10/2013 to get your freebie.
1. Submit something in the Comments field below, eg your thoughts on this article, your favourite sausage flavour or your favourite butcher.
2. IMPORTANT: Send an email to email@example.com with your name and a Sydney postal address, so that I can post the vouchers to you. Voucher can be used between 29/10 to 30/11.
Share the love – tell your friends about this deal.
This is an independent review, not commissioned by Hahn’s Quality Meats.
Hahn’s Quality Meats, Shop 4-5, 17-35 Parramatta Road, Homebush NSW 2140, Tel: 9746 7770
* Free tastings at lunchtime on Saturdays.