KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 — It’s not often someone takes action... just because they cannot get a decent sausage. But Matthew and Nova Kerr did.
At Sausage KL, the married couple produces freshly made sausages which fills a much-needed gap in the market. For slightly more than two years, they have earned many appreciative expatriate and local customers. Recently they chalked up a new milestone: Opening their own eatery.
It started a few years ago when Englishman Matthew complained to Nova about the lack of good quality sausages in the supermarkets here. She decided to go on Lazada and buy a meat mincer.
The enterprising woman who is originally from Medan, Indonesia started experimenting with local meat. Using sausage casings brought in from the UK, she produced her first batch of sausages. “I liked it. My office staff liked it. Her friends liked it. So we started expanding and making it more as a business,” said Matthew.
What was more amazing was the fact that it was Nova’s first time making sausages. Her only exposure to the sausage making process was when she stayed in Australia — the family she stayed with were farmers who made their own sausages.
In just three tries and information from the Internet, she managed to nail the texture of the sausages. It also helped that Matthew was on hand to advise on the texture he wanted for the sausages. In his earlier days, he had worked in a restaurant back in England. Nowadays, he heads a financial planning company here.
As their hobby became an entrepreneurial venture, they invested in a sausage machine; they can make up to five kilograms of sausages in one session. Soon, they were marketing their sausages on social media. “We never paid for marketing. We just put it on Facebook or through the expatriate groups,” explained Matthew.
The sausages would be delivered to their customer’s homes or people will pick up their purchases from their home base. Till today, they make about six to seven variants of their sausages including Lincolnshire, Italian, Cajun and Bratwurst.
The latest is the Toba sausage that uses a fragrant Indonesian black pepper. The name is a nod to Nova’s Lake Toba links: her grandparents and aunt live there. “The pepper is very fragrant and aromatic. When you blend it up, you can smell it in the entire house or café,” said Matthew.
What makes their sausages stand out from the rest — no preservatives, no chemicals, less fillers and more meat. “Ours is only about two to three per cent fillers. We need a little bit for it to bind together. But you don’t need much. We use tapioca flour so it’s gluten-free,” explained Matthew.
They made a conscious effort to ensure their sausages are gluten-free as Matthew’s mother suffers from celiac disease. “When I make the sausages, I also think of my mother-in-law as she has problems with wheat,” explained Nova.
Usually, sausages are made from oats and baby rusks, she explained. Since she wants them to be gluten-free, she plays around with different types of flours for the sausages. As some sausages contain beer or wine, she’ll use corn flour instead.
Their sausages are made on a weekly basis. The couple hope to up their production soon once they hire more help. The long-term plan is to make sausages every other day. For the sausages, they prefer to use fresh minced meat from a trusted butcher rather than frozen meat sourced from commercial suppliers.
“It takes too long to defrost the meat. Moreover it’s not good to defrost and freeze the meat again,” explained Matthew. With sausage making, a challenge is sourcing for high grade natural hog casings that don’t split when it’s stuffed with meat. “We use the highest quality casings that are clean and double AA calibre,” said Matthew.
As everything is homemade, there is an occasional variation of taste. Like recently, a batch of stronger tasting cayenne pepper meant their sausages had a spicier kick. “That is one thing about homemade, there’s variation. It’s not as tight control like when you buy it from a factory where it’s the same,” said Matthew.
In addition to sausages, they also offer chicken nuggets. “It’s completely homemade. No junk. No preservatives. Just meat, vegetables and spices, same like our sausages,” explained Matthew. You can also score sausage rolls and Scotch eggs here.
Their latest venture is the unusual blood pudding. “It’s very British,” said Matthew. Literally a sausage made from pig’s blood, it’s an acquired taste for many. Only a few people make it fresh in Malaysia. Unlike the versions served in the UK, Nova uses fresh blood. She elaborated that usually dried blood powder is used. “I have been struggling with the texture, to make it firmer as it looks broken and it does look like haggis,” said Nova.
Another difference in the UK is they use finer texture pork fat and a lot more fillers like oats. “We try to make it more meat than fillers. In our opinion, fillers lower the quality of the products so it goes against our principles to make really firm blood pudding,” said Matthew.
Hence you have a softer texture blood pudding but the taste is a nice balance of meats with diced pork fat with a hint of sweetness from the blood. In their café, the blood pudding is served pan-fried with your breakfast platter.
Upon request, they make some special sausages like the South African Boerewors, described by Matthew as a dark, strong flavoured sausage made with beef, pork and vinegar. They also make chicken sausages, a special request.
In addition, they supply their sausages to a butcher and a few eateries around the Klang Valley. Surprisingly, these commercial contacts are actually obtained via their regulars. Matthew added, “We have many loyal customers and they’re the ones who find us the bars and restaurants as customers by telling them to try Sausage KL which is much nicer. Word of the mouth is very powerful.”
In May this year, they also took part in the KL Highland Games where they made 70 kilograms of beef burgers and 40 kilograms of sausages for the BBQ pit! It was an eye-opener for the couple but they’re happy to participate in next year’s edition of the games.
Recently, Nova — out of frustration with her kitchen being overcrowded with ingredients — requested that her husband to look for a kitchen for their home-based business. She tells us, “After two years, I want my house to be a house again.“ They discovered this spot by chance.
As it was a bigger space than intended, they decided to make it a kitchen-cum-café. The café is also ideal for them to introduce their sausages to walk-in customers. Nova is happy to share how the sausages can be used in pasta or even a shepherd’s pie.
The menu features a selection of items like their homemade sausages in a full English breakfast, in a sandwich, muffin or toast. Even their bacon is different, cut in thicker slices (about 4.5 millimetres) so you can get a better bite since bacon tends to shrink when you cook it.
They will also be introducing sausage platters where you can get a choice of various types of sausages. This will be served with mash and gravy. You will also have omelette with roast potatoes, done English style with delicious crispy edges. They also serve aglio olio pasta with their Toba sausage. On Thursdays, there’s special pork ribs made by Matthew too. He will also be making a daily soup, a specialty of his.
You will also find more Indonesian dishes popping up in the cafe. Like an Indonesian fried rice, cooked to a family recipe of Nova’s. What’s unusual is this fried rice is cooked with a sauteed paste of blended candlenuts, shallots and garlic. “It adds a nuttiness to the fried rice,” explained Nova. The fried rice is served with prawns, chicken, the tinier, finer ikan bilis variety and peanuts! Nova also plans to introduce gado gado too.
In the future, Matthew has plans to make bacon with rind, which he noticed is unavailable here. “No one in Asia does it with the streaky bacon with the crispy bit at the end,” he explained. The challenge is space and time, since bacon takes around six to seven days to cure.
Some customers have also asked for pork pies with the shorter pastry. Once Nova sorts out the operations of the cafe, she’ll be free to experiment. “She is trying to step out of the kitchen and then she can be more creative,” said Matthew. We can’t wait!
225, Jalan Ampang
Open: 8.30am to 7pm (Tuesday to Friday), 9.30am to 3pm (Saturday and Sunday)
Closed on Monday