Naem is a fermented sausage made with pork, pork skins, cooked sticky rice (glutinous), fresh garlic, salt, sugar and bird’s eye chilies. The sausage is wrapped in banana leaves or synthetic casings, and fermented for 3-5 days at about 30 degrees (C) and 50% humidity. The fermentation process enables the growth of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, mostly lactobacilli, which accounts for the sourness of the sausage. The salt acts as an inhibitor – preventing the meat from going rotten, allowing the lactic acid bacteria and yeasts to feed on the rice and sugar, and fermenting the meat to perfection.
Northern Thai Cuisine (Lanna)
Cured pork is made by fermenting a mixture pork meat, cooked pork skin julienne, salt, garlic and cooked sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. During the summer we leave the wraps unrefrigerated until a rich savory and slightly sour flavor develops. This method of preserving meat goes back to the days before refrigeration was widely used.
In this Northern style recipe I use homemade cured pork, though any commercial product from your local Asian store will do just fine.