When ground meat or meat paste is enhanced by other seasonings and cooked in an unusual manner, rather than just boiled, it is elevated to the realm of chả, a term used for fancier charcuterie. So if the name of a dish includes the word chả, expect to be seduced.
Here, the meat paste receives a dose of cinnamon, which adds a deep spicy-sweet flavor without being cloying (much as it does to many savory Middle Eastern dishes). To accentuate the perfume and color that cinnamon lends to the paste, the mixture is traditionally spread onto a large section of bamboo and cooked on a spit over a wood fire. As the bamboo spins, a chewy skin forms and a heady aroma wafts through the air. When cut from the bamboo, the ready-to-eat sausage is curved like pieces of cinnamon bark.
In the States, my mom tried substituting a large metal juice can for the bamboo and an electric rotisserie for the spit. If things weren’t just right, the paste slipped off the can and was ruined. The method here, which uses an inverted baking sheet, is much easier, although it doesn’t yield the characteristic curved shape. The taste, however, is splendid, especially when the sausage is made with strong, sweet Vietnamese cassia cinnamon.