Monday, August 23, 2010

Thai Red Pork Curry

I recently attended a cooking class just for Thai food. I think unless you have a real talent for exploring ingredients, it can be beneficial to have someone show you what to use or how to use it. I've been to Asian markets before and wandered around wondering what exactly was that stuff in a jar. Then, I pretty much only bought things I could recognize without having to read the wrapper, like rice, noodles, produce, or certain condiments.


Thankfully, being told name brands to look for also makes a huge difference. My cooking instructor suggested Three Crabs Fish Sauce.  If you can't read the label, at least you can find one with 3 crabs. But then at the store, they also have Five Crabs Fish Sauce. Seriously? Is 5 better than 3? I went with 3 because that is what she told me.

My instructor pointed out one thing about Thai food is that it requires a lot of prep work, but cooks up quickly. She said it's really perfect for busy weeknight dinners if you can get the prep work done in advance. All you'd have to do it toss the ingredients in a pot. Cooking time is really fast, maybe 20 minutes if you are slow. This curry only took me 15 minutes of actual cooking time.

Gaeng Ped Moo
Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut cream, I used Chaokoh
1 Tablespoon prepared red curry paste, I used Mae Ploy
3/4 to 1 lb pork tenderloin
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk, I used Chaokoh
2 Tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
5 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
1 small red chili, like Fresno or Habanero
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, (regular basil is OK too) sliced into fine ribbons, Chiffonade style

Method
1. Slice the pork into thin 1/2 inch strips.


2. Cut open the hot pepper. Lay it flat and carefully remove the seeds and white inner ribbing membrane. Discard that stuff.  Mince the remaining pepper flesh. If you don't like much heat, use half a pepper.  If you like more heat, use it all.


3. In a frying pan, bring the coconut cream up to a boil. Add the curry paste and mix well. 


4. Add the pork.  Stir regularly to keep the sauce from getting overcooked while getting the pork cooked through, about 5 minutes.


5. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, salt, sugar, lime leaves, and chili pepper to the pan.  Stir to incorporate then bring up to a simmer to heat through.


6. Remove from heat. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with the finely sliced basil leaves.  You could add additional chili pepper or sliced green onion if you like. 


7. Serve with jasmine or basmati rice to soak up the curry sauce. Just a note on the rice,  you will need to start cooking the rice before the curry so it's ready. You can let finished rice rest in the pot with the lid on and heat off while you cook this.