As you fly past in your bus or car, you’ll see the strands of sausage dangling on the side of the road.
In between Korat (โคราช) and Khon Kaen (ขอนแก่น), in the Isaan region of Thailand, is a little place called Amphoe Phon (อำเภอพล).
Over the years, I had actually passed through a number of times, flying down the highway en-route to Khon Kaen and to Laos, and every time I had wanted to stop, but since I was normally in a public bus, I couldn’t.
So finally, when my opportunity came to re-visit Amphoe Phon (อำเภอพล) with the Thai food TV Show, and to eat Thai Isaan sausage, you can be sure I was very excited.
We arrived in the early morning, and saw a monk on his morning alms routine, along with a dog carrying a basket helping him.
Sai krok Isan (ไส้กรอกอีสาน)
Along with som tam (green papaya) and sticky rice, probably one of the most famous foods associated with Isaan is sausage.
Known as sai krok Isaan(ไส้กรอกอีสาน), and referred to by the same name throughout the country, the sausage is extremely popular for meals, and also just as a snack throughout Thailand.
Especially in the afternoon, many people love to grab a fresh grilled stick of sai krok (ไส้กรอกอีสาน) to munch on.
For Thai sausage lovers, Amphoe Phon (อำเภอพล), really is Thai Isan sausage paradise.
Promoted by OTOP (a government stimulus package that recognizes high quality products from around the country), the main highway that runs through Phon (พล) is jam packed with sausage stalls on each side of the road.
Not only will you find sai krok (ไส้กรอก) dangling on display, but there’s another popular type of Isaan sausage, that’s darker in color, known as mam (หม่ำ).
Mam (หม่ำ) is a leaner, more dry sausage, and I actually really love it (but more about mam หม่ำ below).
Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง)
We chose to go to Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง), a small sausage factory and restaurant.
P’Goong, the cook and owner, and everyone else we met, were extremely kind, taking care of us from the moment we arrived.
We spent most of the day at the factory and restaurant, first eating a meat filled breakfast, including all types of sausage, then learning the process of preparing Thai Isaan sausage, and then eating another glorious sausage filled lunch.
Isaan Meat Breakfast
Let’s begin with breakfast…
I normally try to eat oatmeal, fruit, and nuts for breakfast, but on this day, I gave up my normal breakfast and couldn’t have been more happy to have a full on Isaan meat feast.
Sai krok Isaan (ไส้กรอกอีสาน) is one of the things Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง) is most famous for, the most typical Isaan sausage.
It was first sliced into pieces, then deep fried, so it was crispy on the edges, and meaty and juicy on the inside.
One of the main reasons I love Thai sausage so much is because it’s always served with fresh green chilies and raw garlic on the side.
There are few things better then eating a piece of sausage along with a chili and piece of raw garlic, and chasing it down with some herbs and cabbage.
Mam moo (หม่ำหมู)
We also ate a sausage called mam, and there were both a pork (หม่ำหมู) and beef versions (หม่ำเนื้อ). What I really like about mam (หม่ำ), is that it’s very low fat.
While sai krok Isaan (ไส้กรอกอีสาน) is a majority fat, mam (หม่ำ) is almost all meat. So it is drier than sai krok, but I love the leaner sausage.
Breakfast was fantastic.
Learning how to make Thai sausage
After a belly full of sausage for breakfast, it was time to put on a pink doctors coat and hairnet, and head into a little room to learn how to make the sausage.
(Yup, the theme colors at Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง) are pink and blue, and they decided I’d look good in a pink coat!)
We made both pork sai krok (ไส้กรอกอีสาน), and also mam made with pork.
The sausage included minced pork, msg, salt, heaps of garlic, and oyster sauce. We mixed all the ingredients together by hand, and then filled them into an intestines wrapper.
As opposed to northern Thai sai ua sausage, that’s filled with herbs and chilies, this type of sausage doesn’t include too much more than meat and salt, because it’s instead eaten with raw chilies and garlic after being cooked.
What I really liked about Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง), is that they still use real intestine wrappers.
In Bangkok (video), and in many parts of commercial Thai sausage production nowadays, they often use collagen wrappers, instead of the real thing.
Another difference P’Goong explained to us is that they use all meat, while in Bangkok sai krok (ไส้กรอก) is often made with rice or mung bean noodles added as filler – here they use all meat.
Finally, they also don’t use any preservatives, so their sausage needs to be consumed fresh, and can’t wait too long.
After we filled the intestines with the meat and spice mixture, we then proceeded to make the recipe for Thai mam (หม่ำ) sausage.
The meat was much leaner, probably only a tiny bit of fat, and also P’Goong explained to me that they also include a little bit of ground liver in the mam sausage recipe to give it a darker richer color and flavor.
It has a similar color to something like blood sausage, but you still can’t really taste any irony-ness to it, like you can in a blood based sausage.
Mam (หม่ำ) included just salt, msg, garlic, and the meat mixture (meat and liver).
After sectioning off all the sausage, we then hung it in the scorching hot sun to dry.
As I learned, depending on the sourness you like your Thai sausage, you can let it hang for just a few hours before cooking it, or you can leave it for up to 3 days to let it slightly ferment before you eat it.
I really like the sour stuff.
Ka prao mam (กะเพราหม่ำเนื้อ)
Lunch rolled around faster than I could digest breakfast, but anyways, I was still ready.
This time, P’Goong cooked some extra dishes, including ka prao mam neua (กะเพราหม่ำเนื้อ), basically the same recipe for other versions of the Thai holy basil dish, but this time using beef mam sausage.
Over rice, it was absolutely sensational.
Mam neua (หม่ำเนื้อ)
Probably my favorite of all the sausages they have at Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง) was the mam neua (หม่ำเนื้อ), beef sausage.
It was so tasty, and I liked how it was nice and lean. It almost tasted like a really garlicky and dry hamburger. Another comparison, which I’ve already used, is that mam sort of tastes like a drier Middle Eastern kebab.
Neua dad deaw (เนื้อแดดเดียว)
We also had neua dad deaw (เนื้อแดดเดียว), strips of beef that were marinated, dried in the hot sun, and then deep fried. Most of the time in Bangkok, you’ll find the pork version, but not so often beef.
It was extremely good, like beef jerky, crispy on the outside, and slightly soft on the inside – that is once you start chewing.
More Isaan sausage
And yes, there was of course more sai krok Isaan….
I’m not sure if it would be possible to have a meal in Amphoe Phon (อำเภอพล) without some sausage. Again, it was sliced into pieces then deep fried.
Som tam Lao (ส้มตำลาว)
We also had a few more Isaan dishes like som tam, which was fantastic as always.
Tam daeng (ตำแตง)
Another Isaan salad I’m a huge fan of is something called tam daeng, a dish that’s quite similar to Thai green papaya salad, only instead of green papaya, slices of cucumbers are used.
It’s incredibly refreshing, and this version was pleasantly fiery, and nicely flavored with fermented fish sauce.
Lunch was again spectacular, all the food was wonderful.
Buying take-away sausage
Although you can stop at Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง) and eat there at the restaurant, the majority of people I would say, drop by just to pick up some sausage for takeaway.
In fact, as I learned, they sell the majority of their sausage on holidays and weekends, when Thais drive by, and stop to purchase some delicious sausage to eat back home with their friends and families.
Though stuffed from both breakfast and lunch, Ying and I decided to buy some sausage to bring home (in Thai culture, when you visit a different city, it’s highly important to bring food gifts back to your family).
If you buy sausage to takeaway, you can simply select which strand you want, or how many links off the strand you want, then they will package them into a vacuum sealed bag.
What I really wanted to buy, was some of the mam neua (หม่ำเนื้อ), the beef mam sausage, which was probably my favorite.
I’m pretty excited about my package of beef sausage, I think I will grill it once I’m back in Bangkok.
After a wonderful day at Mam Yai Goong, all stuffed and happy full of sausage, we drove back to Khon Kaen city.
Kam Hai Market (ตลาดคำไฮ)
Our last stop of the day was at Kam Hai Market (ตลาดคำไฮ), a huge and bustling evening market in Khon Kaen.
It was a nice market to walk around, and see all the fresh ingredients and prepared snacks available.
And guess what I saw more of at the market… sausage… lots more.
And there were plenty of other things as well, including raw ingredients and cooked dishes as well.
If you’re ever in Khon Kaen, Kam Hai Market (ตลาดคำไฮ), is a very cool local market to walk through in the evening.
Amphoe Phon (อำเภอพล) is a little place in the Isaan region of Thailand, with a lot of sausage stalls.
I headed to Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง), a high quality sausage producer and restaurant, specializing in both sai krok Iasan (ไส้กรอกอีสาน), and a sausage called mam (หม่ำ).
Without doubt, both versions of sausage were some of the best I’ve had in Thailand, way outdoing any Thai sausage I’ve ever had on the streets of Bangkok.
If you’re ever in Isaan, driving between Khorat and Khon Kaen, you might want to stop for a wonderful sausage filled feast, and some sausage to take-away.
Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง) is a great choice, and P’Goong will be sure to take care of all your sausage needs. Amphoe Phon (อำเภอพล) really is Thailand’s sausage paradise.
(Note: I’m part of a Thai food TV show, and we are traveling around Thailand to eat a few of the most famous and tastiest dishes. I will be blogging as much as I can about the experience. You can read more articles about it here.)
Mam Yai Goong (ร้านหม่ำยายกุ้ง)
If you’re passing through Amphoe Phon (อำเภอพล), you should definitely make a pit-stop.
Address: 10 Thanon Mittraphap, Amphoe Phon, Khon Kaen
Open hours: 6 am – 9 pm daily
- Mam pork or beef (หม่ำหมู – เนื้อ) – 50 THB per piece (ท่อนละ)
- Sai krok Isan (ไส้กรอกอีสาน) – 100 THB for 12 pieces (ข้อ)
- Neua dad deaw (เนื้อแดดเดียว) – 700 THB per kg.
ที่อยู่ 10 ถ.มิตรภาพ อำเภอพล จังหวัด ขอนแก่น
เปิดบริการทุกวัน 6.00 – 21.00 น.