Som Moo is also known as Fermented or Soured Pork.
Som Moo can be found in many Asiatic stores, sometimes in small packets, sometimes in large blocks. It makes a great snack or can be used in other dishes such as one of my favourites, Nhem.
It can be eaten “as is”, or cooked, though the former is more preferred.
Most of the commercial Som Moo available contains preservatives and colourings, the latter making it an unusual (though aesthetic) pink.
Homemade Som Moo, like most homemade things is far better. You get a great sense of achievement eating something that you made yourself, or for your friends.
I posted an LCTV video some time ago and will now follow it up with a step-by-step photo recipe for your reading and eating pleasure. :cheerful:
The recipe is pretty straight forward (there are only 6 ingredients), the important part is in the technique and method.
In this recipe I will talk you through the various ingredients and how to prepare them. Some of the ingredients need to be prepared in advance, and after making the Som Moo you should allow three days for it to ferment in a warm dark place. After that it can be kept chilled in the fridge, which will slow down the fermentation process but will not stop it, hence it should be consumed within a week or so.
When we make Som Moo, we make it up to just over 3kg. If that amount is too much for you, you can always freeze it later use, alternatively you can halve the recipe, though we find that if you are going to put so much effort in to kneading it (which will be a lot :w00t: ), its better to make a reasonable amount.
2500g Minced Pork
500g Pork Skin
60g Table Salt
120g Chopped Garlic
120g Sticky Rice
Chillies, as much as you like
This recipe is for 3kg or meat, if you don’t want to use pork skin you can increase the meat by half a kilo, or you could increase the meat by 300g and only use 200g of the skin, whatever you decide, make sure that the meats add up to 3kg. We find that 500g of skin adds a nice light chewy texture to the finished dish.
Make sure that the pork that you buy is fresh and free from any fat (soured raw fat tastes like it sounds :pinch: ), either mince it yourself or ask your butcher to do it for you (make sure they clean the mincing machine beforehand! :blink: )
Back in the old days before mincers were around, folks back home would chop the pork by hand. This is why some of the older Som Moo dishes contained chunkier bits of meat.
We like to use fresh skin in our Som Moo that has been previously boiled the day before and allowed to chill before having the fat removed.
This skin looks dark because it comes from the Iberian Pig. You can also buy dehydrated pork skin from the stores which needs to be reconstructed in water before using. If you cannot get hold of it you can even use Bacon Rind, like we did in our video presentation.
We use regular Table Salt.
Commercial companies like to add sweeteners (Dextrose), they also like to mix in Nitrites and Nitrates, which speeds-up and assist the curing process and also gives the finished product that “Pink Colour”.
If you want to use Nitrate Salt you should use 10g of it mixed in with 50g of Table Salt. We prefer not to.
It is best to wear gloves when chopping garlic. If you are lucky, it is always best to get someone else to chop it for you.
If you have none of the above, just wash your fingers after chopping the garlic in cool water then rub them against some stainless steel (large spoon, pots or even the sink) then rinse with cool water again.
Laotian Rice needs to be soaked before it is steamed. For Som Moo it then needs to be “Washed”.
To wash the cooked Laotian Rice just cover it with luke warm water for a few minutes.
Then using your hands, grasp at the rice, squeezing it through your fingers.
Rice is the catalyst for the fermentation, and what you are basically doing is breaking and opening up the grains, which will result in a better Som Moo.
Once washed, discard the water. (When making Som Pak (Fermented or Soured greens) the water is used as the catalyst, and is known as Rice Water)).The washed rice should now be gleaming and will have lost most of its stickiness.
Now what we have to do is knead the pork.
Knead the pork for a good 10 to 15 minutes (yes, your arm will ache….). We haven’t added any of the other ingredients yet, what we need to do is “break down” the pork so that it can absorb the other ingredients. Taking time to knead it well now will result in a much better finished product which is better binded and will not fall apart.
Once the pork is broken down it should feel sticky.
Now we add half of the salt and commence kneading again.
Give the mixture another good kneading for about 5 minutes. Once that is done, add the remainder of the salt and continue to knead for another 5 minutes. (By this time you arm will feel like it is falling off!). :devil:
If you haven’t broken in to a sweat yet it means that you are not kneading hard enough….
Give your arm a rest for a few minutes then add the washed Laotian Rice.
Once you arm has recovered, add the garlic and start kneading again. :biggrin:
Make sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed whilst kneading.
After a good 10 minutes of kneading add the pork skin.
Now that the skin has been added, you need to continue…….kneading… :biggrin:
Obviously if you have a machine such as a Kitchen Aid or similar, it takes a lot of work out of making this dish.
However, the ingredients need to be added as stated above and kneaded in sequence for optimum results. Without getting too technical, what we have been doing is breaking down the meat gradually and adding ingredients in stages when they will each have the a better effect on the meat. If you pile everything at once in a mechanical mixing bowl, the end result will be very quite different. Trust us, we have tried….. :unsure:
After about 10 minutes of continious kneading the skin will have softened a little further and become a part of the mixture.
Now you can give your arm a rest.
By this time, with your constant kneading, and dare I say, passion, you will have noticed the “Som Moo Aroma” that has been waffling from your mixture. Smells good doesn’t it! :biggrin:
Now for the rolling.
Line a chopping board with some Cling Film (or Plastic Wrap to our overseas cousins). :silly:
Take about 500g of the mixture and place it in the middle of the board.
In order to make this part clearer for the reader, we are using a blue chopping board that is normally reserved for fish.
Make a grove with your fingers on to the mixture and add the fresh chillies. Try to make the groove deep enough to reach the centre of the mixture, this way the chilli will be centred on the final product.
Gather the mixture over the groove and the chillies.
Bring the edge of film closest to you over the mixture and press firmly.
Holding the mixture and meat tightly, roll it away from you, making sure that you keep the shape as cylindrical as possible.
As you roll, try to mold the mixture in to an long oblong shape. Then gather up the edges of film and press inwards to further pack the cylinder.
Keep rolling until you have a compact cylinder of the mixture. If you see any air bubbles, just pierce the film with a toothpick or needle and continue to roll, this will expel any air and make sure that your Som Moo doesn’t end up looking like Swiss Cheese. :biggrin:
Once rolled and compact without any air bubbles, bring the ends of the film to the centre and flatten any knots that have appeared in the film. Roll once again in a sheet of film. The Som Moo should feel compact and tight.
Follow the same procedure for the rest of the mixture.
Som Moo is labelled in boxes when we have more than one batch fermenting.
Store in a dark place at room temperature for three days or so.
As the pork ferments the meat will get tougher and less “springy”. You can taste it after two days to see how far it has fermented and if it is sour enough to your taste, otherwise leave it for another 12 to 24 or even 36 hours (tasting at intervals).
We leave ours to ferment for three days, but seeing as every room has its own distinct temperature, your taste buds will tell you when it is ready.
Once ready (or “ripe” as we say ) the Som Moo must be placed in the fridge. As I said earlier, this will slow down the fermentation not stop it. Therefore it should be consumed within a week or so, or frozen.
To use frozen Som Moo, it is best to defrost it overnight in the fridge.
The better the mixture is kneaded, the better the end result will be.
For a more commercial looking Som Moo you can blitz the Washed Laotian Rice and Garlic in a blender, however we find it better when it is cut and chopped by hand, which results in minute tasty chunks of rice and garlic in the finished product.
Som Moo is addictive…. :tongue:
To serve you can just cut through the film and Som Moo with a sharp knife, then remove the film from the edges.
(wow! thats like the longest post ever……)