Longanisa - Scrumptious Filipino Sausages

This post is a tribute to one of my favourite childhood meals and one that my own children love; sausages and rice. It's a simple meal but one that I regarded as a delicious treat as a child. It's a classic example of the sort of East meets West, 'Mix-Mix' food that I grew up on. My mother's Asian influence in the kitchen often manifested itself simply by replacing bread or potatoes with rice. So it was perfectly normal in our house to eat fish fingers with rice, burgers with rice, egg on rice, tuna mayonnaise and rice... you get the idea. I often wished we could ditch the rice for chips because that's what I believed 'normal' people ate (and because sausages and chips is an excellent thing), but the truth is that there are few foods that aren't improved with a side of fluffy white rice. Sausages and rice is a particularly good combo - the contrast between soft, mellow rice and salty, meaty sausages, and the way that the rice absorbs all the juices, is pure food heaven.

My ULTIMATE sausage is a Filipino sausage called 'Longanisa', which originates from Spain. The Philippines was part of the Spanish Empire for more than three hundred years, which heavily influenced the cuisine. Each region has its own recipe made using various spices combined with garlic and sugar, which gives them a distinctive, barbequey sweetness and makes them caramelise and turn sticky as they fry. Longanisa are dyed red with annatto seed powder to make them look more visually appealling - not the most obvious choice on the sausage colour chart, but Filipinos aren't known for being conventional. In the Philippines they are usually eaten for breakfast with rice and a fried egg. Unfortunately they're not easy to get hold of in the UK, but if you have a root around in the freezer of your local Asian supermarket you may be lucky enough to find some. Otherwise, chorizo sausages are the next best thing, or ordinary sausages with a bbq or 'Chinese-style' ready-made marinade - fry the sausages first before you add the sauce and then reduce it down to a sticky coating.

Or just cook any old sausages and plonk them on top of a pile of rice, and I guarantee your tastebuds will thank you for it. We eat ours with a blob of ketchup or cold baked beans - yup, we like them straight from the tin... I don't think that's a Filipino tradition though, just a family thing!

Bambinos ready to pounce.