Pork larb isaan
long-grain Thai rice (a few handfuls)
a few shallots (Thai shallots would be ideal)
a few cloves of garlic
a piece of galangal, optional
a few dried chillies
a simple stock or water
a few small Thai chillies, optional
handful of fresh coriander
handful of fresh mint
a selection of crispy vegetables like cabbage leaves, baby gem and cucumbers
- Start by making the ground sticky rice (Khao Khua) by putting the rice in a dry wok or pan and toast it very very slowly until it turns golden brown. Be careful not to burn it. It will start smelling like popcorn and you can eat the grains just like this when it is ready.
- Grind the grains down in a mortar and pestle. You want to have a very coarse powder as the finer it gets, the more it will act like a thickening agent. This will hold forever and it makes an excellent topping for all sorts of recipes.
- Rinse your dried chillies and then dry them with a towel.
- Open a window as things will get spicy, and toast them in the same pan till you see them darken a bit.
- Grind into a coarse powder as well and reserve.
- If you have the galangal and garlic, cut them into smaller pieces along with some shallots (for every part of galangal you want 2 parts garlic and 2 parts shallots), and then make a very rough paste. At home I have some of these cubes frozen and I use them as needed.
- Slice some of the shallots and a few small fresh chillies if you are using them.
- Warm-up a bit of the stock or water and then add the meat inside and stir continuously. You do not want the meat to clamp up.
- Once the meat is cooked (add more liquid if needed) take off the heat.
- Put a few of the sliced shallots inside and season with fish sauce, lime juice and a bit of sugar. Start with small amounts and add as needed. You want to taste salty, sour and then a hint of sweetness. Sometimes your limes will be juicier so you might use more or less, but remember to taste everything.
- Once you’ve got the balance right, add some of the chilli powder and a few Thai chillies (if you’re using them) and stir. Again taste as you go.
- Tear the coriander and mint leaves and add them to the pan.
- Put the mixture on a plate, and garnish with some of the toasted rice powder on top and your accompanying vegetables on another and a bit of steamed sticky rice to dip into the juices like bread.
Don’t forget the beers!