Thursday, April 22, 2010

Curried minced pork with vegetables, Thai-style

Once upon a time I was misguided enough to think I could learn to speak Thai. Luckily, my very perceptive friend and teacher guessed that the way to access my language center was through my stomach.  Our lessons therefore always started at the market and ended in a communal meal in the shared kitchen of the women's dormitory where I was living. This is very appropriate because in Thailand it really is all about the food. Eating is a very social activity. I left with an extra ten pounds and a notebook full of recipes, including this one.

This meal has become standard fall-back fare at my house. If I haven't planned ahead and need to come up with a quick, satisfying meal that everyone will eat, this dish tops the list. It is also simple enough and tasty enough that I will prepare it for guests when I don't want to be preoccupied by a complicated menu.

An essential ingredient to this one-dish meal is Prik Khing curry paste. I'm lucky enough to have a great local Asian food store that carries a wide assortment of Thai curry pastes, but I have noticed that the ethnic food section of our grocery store also carries a small selection (but with a heftier price tag). For this dish you will only use about a tablespoon of curry paste but the rest will keep well in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. I have also frozen it, spooning it directly from the freezer to the wok.

In addition to the curry paste, you will need:
1.5 lbs ground pork (or beef) (or so)
vegetable oil
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 quarter size slices ginger, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Large bell pepper (red adds a nice color), sliced
green beans (a couple handfuls), sliced lengthwise
** Optional: Thai basil, 2 cups (or so) cubed pineapple

To prepare:
Cook ground meat, mincing as you go. Set aside when fully cooked.
Add a tablespoon or so of the vegetable oil to your wok. When it is very hot, add the onion and cook until tender. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until the ginger is golden brown. Add about a tablespoon of the curry paste and mix well, frying it with the onion for about a minute. Add the sugar, soy sauce and vinegar. Return the ground meat to the wok and mix well. Add the pepper and green beans, cook until they are tender but still retain some of their crunch. Remove from heat.

If you have Thai basil and some cubed pineapple, toss this with the ground meat and vegetables.

Don't be afraid to add more sugar, soy sauce and vinegar to your taste. The final dish should be a nice balance of sweet, salty, spicy and sour.

Serve over steamed jasmine rice.

A note about spicy foods: sugar counteracts the heat of spicy ingredients in Thai food. If you find that you've added too much curry paste, go ahead and slowly add in small measurements of sugar until the heat is more easily tolerated.


  1. Wow, you really make it look so easy... and delicious!!

  2. OH YUM!!! How spicy is this?

  3. It can be as spicy as you want. The more curry paste you add the spicier it will be. I would start with a small amount and increase it if you like more heat.