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Sunday Night Special: Pad Prik King

I recently occured to me that the only cooking I ever document is what I do on Sundays. That's simply because Sunday night is the only evening when I have the time and energy Prikkingfixingsfor silly crap like snapping photos of ingredients and typing up ingredient lists. Why fight it? I'm starting a new category: Sunday Night Special. The following recipe is from last Sunday, not today. I don't ever actually post anything in real time–I tend to mull things over, but mostly I'm just lazy. Let's see if the fish curry I plan to embark on in a hour or so ever makes it up here or not.

I never see cilantro with the roots intact, so when I found a dirt-caked pile of rooty herbs at Western Beef, I bought some with the primary intent of cutting, cleaning and saving the roots for later use in Thai recipes that always seem to call for them when I'm empty-handed. (Last week, for the first time, I saw rau ram, a.k.a. laksa leaves at Hong Kong Supermarket in Sunset Park. But I wasn't sure how well they'd hold up in the freezer and I didn't have any plans for any Malaysian recipes in the immediate future, so I was forced to pass.)

I decided to make a dry curry using pork and long beans David Thompson's paperback Thai cookbook from the early '90s, not the encyclopedic behemoth, Thai Cooking, that dazzled everyone a few years ago. I love that obsessive tome, but for a simple every day recipe, the smaller book usually suffices. I followed it fairly closely, though I didn't de-seed my chiles and used short ribs (I thought I had pork belly in the freezer, but I couldn't find it) primarily because I don't have a cleaver to chop down big ribs.

Padprikking The result was very strong and rich, though not from coconut milk. I guess the ingredients were naturally rich. I tried a canned prik khing paste last night for a similar recipe and thought the one from scratch was superior (though James seemed to like the prepared sauce better, but that's psychological because he bought the can)  I think even the good canned pastes, end up being too salty and flat. The freshly pureed paste was also considerably hotter than the canned version, which I had to spruce up with a couple chopped chiles.

Pork with Snake Beans and Chile Paste
Pad Prik King Tua Fak Yaew

2 tablespoons safflower oil or 4 tablespoons if using pork ribs or leg
2 cloves garlic, crushed
7 ounces pork belly, fresh bacon or pork ribs or leg, steamed and sliced into smalls strips
3 tablespoons of the chile paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 ounces snake beans, cut into 1 ¼" lengths
6 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
3 fresh large red chiles, halved and deseeded

Chile Paste
5-10 dried red long chiles, deseeded and chopped
3 red shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ stalk lemongrass, sliced
1 teaspoon galangal, peeled and chopped
3 cilantro roots
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, rinsed
1 teaspoon salt

In a medium pan, heat the oil, add the garlic and fry until golden. Add the pork and fry until it begins to color. Add the chile paste and fry for about 5-8 minutes or until fragrant; if necessary, moisten with a little water to prevent the paste from sticking. Add the fish sauce and sugar. Mix in the beans, kaffir lime leaves and chiles, fry for another 2-3 minutes, or until the beans are cooked. It will taste quite rich and spicy.

To make chile paste, puree all the ingredients in a food processor (or mortar and pestle), using as little water as possible, until fine.

Adapted from Classic Thai Cuisine by David Thompson. Ten Speed Press. 1993.

Here's a fun site with Thai cooking videos. Watch stir-fried pork with long beans being made (scroll down to #9). They're not scared of MSG in Thailand.

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  1. This sounds delicious! I’ve been cooking a lot from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet lately and in my ingredient search I’ve been doing circles around Chinatown. You mentioned rau ram leaves at Hong Kong Supermarket. These aren’t the leaves used for the Miang Kham are they? I’ve had this appetizer only at Thai restaurants and recently was unable to find them despite wandering around for an hour or so. I believe they are also called la lot (Vietnamese) or pak i leut (Lao.)
    Maybe you have seen these elsewhere?

    Glad to have found you. I’m digging all the great food blogs in nyc!

    May 23, 2006
  2. No, rau ram aren’t the ones you’re thinking of. If I’m correct, miang kham use betel leaves, which I never see in the stores. But they must exist because NYC restaurants do serve miang kham.

    Hey, the more food blogs the merrier (despite what anyone says).

    May 24, 2006
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