Northern Thai in Western Melbourne

Buying chilies at Melbourne's Footscray Market Phil said he wanted to make sai ua, the famous northern Thai sausage. I was skeptical. Phil had previously told me about Melbourne's Footscray Market and its apparently amazing selection of Asian ingredients, but could we really make anything approaching an authentic northern sausage in Australia? Using Thompson's Thai Food as a rough guide, we made a list of the ingredients we'd need and set off. Arriving at the market (pictured above), I was almost immediately converted: Footscray Market was every bit as well-stocked and hectic as any in Asia, and we had no problem finding virtually every last ingredient.

Arriving back home, and fueled by a constant stream of Little Creatures Pale Ale, we chopped the fresh herbs roughly:

Chopped herbs for sai ua, northern-style Thai sausage, Melbourne, Australia

and Phil fed this mixture and some pork through a meat grinder. As a test, we fried a bit of the mixture up:

Testing a bit of sausage meat, Melbourne, Australia

and were pleased to find that it was nearly spot on. After adjusting the seasoning slightly, Phil put the ingredients through a second run, this time filling a sausage casing:

Phil filling sausage casings to make sai ua, Melbourne, Australia

While Phil was grilling the sausage, I made two Mae Hong Son dishes: saa, a salad of pea shoots, and kaeng hang lay. I had brought with me a couple of the more obscure ingredients, but again, we were able to find everything we needed, including pork belly, at Footscray market. I marinated the meat a la Khun Yai's recipe:

Marinating pork belly for kaeng hang lay, Melbourne, Australia

and let it simmer for about four hours until it was fall-apart tender:

Making kaeng hang lay, a northern-style pork curry, Melbourne, Australia

The weather was too cold to pretend we were in northern Thailand, but the flavours were pretty damn authentic.

A northern-style meal in Melbourne, Australia