Argentina, Purefoods, Swift, and More: We Tried 6 Brands of Vienna SausagesJuly 16, 2018
Despite their moniker, canned Vienna Sausages as we know it are distinct from actual sausages from Vienna. Rather, they hail from the US, rooted in sausages brought in by European immigrants but reinterpreted as short, stubby wieners of meat trimmings, spices, and occasionally fillers packed in broth in cans. Like other American industrial foods, they made their way to the Philippines after World War II, embraced by locals for their unusualness and convenience. To this day they appear across many Filipino homes, used in recipes like embutido and Pinoy spaghetti, or enjoyed plain as a tasty meat-esque hunger-buster that’s affordable to boot. Which brand should you stock up on?
Argentina’s packs in an all-out saltiness, from the broth to the sausages themselves, as well as a porky, processed-meat taste we’d compare to SPAM. It’s on the relatively meaty side texture-wise, offering just enough resistance and a slightly springy chew before yielding to its soft, spongy interior. We especially love Argentina on pan de sal, as its balanced texture and saltiness stand out within the soft, sweet Filipino buns.
On the much less salty side is CDO’s; despite the weirdly metallic-tasting broth, we appreciate how its hint of spice and zestiness perks up each bite without relying on saltiness. Unfortunately its texture leaves much to be desired; though ample in firmness, it reveals its oddly homogenous and spongy consistency as you chew.
El Rancho’s contenders come at a similar size and length as CDO’s, but with a pinker hue. Though on the soft, spongy side, it has a slightly coarse consistency that almost resembles meatloaf, if you close your eyes hard enough. The can comes with a generous amount of the savory (albeit not particularly meaty-tasting) broth. But the sausages themselves are blaringly bland; we like that the salt comes at just the right amount, but past that little saltiness you don’t get much else. If you must have El Rancho, frying them up and seasoning them as you do so is the way to go.
On one hand, Purefoods is the saltiest of the bunch; both in the broth and in the sausage pieces, which also carry a hint of spice aside from a pork-y SPAM-like taste similar to Argentina’s. But it stands out with its texture, offering more density that makes for a satisfying resistance and that gives it a relatively snappy feel. It soon makes way to an interior that’s far firmer, meatier, and relatively fibrous (for a processed meat good anyway) than all other brands.
Like CDO’s, Swift is also in the seasoned-just-right camp, though it also bears a mild aftertaste we can best describe as plastic-y or clay-like. Texture-wise it’s like El Rancho’s, being coarse in consistency yet soft and watery (bordering on mushy). Though the said qualities result in a dissatisfying bite, they make for an easily-mashable sausage we oddly enjoy like pâté on pan de sal or even rice.
If El Rancho’s was bland, Virginia’s is even blander, being even less salty—which we’d have appreciated this if there were other flavors to provide some sort of depth. If anything, we detect a “rusty” note that does not offend but is nevertheless present. While the more curved, patchy appearance of the sausage (it looks like it has cellulite on the surface, a team member jokes) gives it a somewhat realistic feel, the sight of a wad of what seems to be firmed-up fat floating in its broth doesn’t get our appetites going. Either way, it’s right smack dab being soft and firm, with a coarseness that makes for a decent chew.
The Verdict: Purefoods
Purefoods may pose a challenge for our livers with its overwhelming saltiness, but in terms of firmness, meatiness, and overall flavor, it’s your best bet. Argentina comes close, coming up short in the firmness department but still offering a decent sausage.