Pork in Red Curry with Bamboo Shoots (Kaeng Phet Mu Sai No Mai)
This fragrant red curry is the perfect background for pork. Pork Red Curry has long been a family favourite of ours-ever since our first family holiday in Thailand some 25 years ago. Red curry is the easiest of all curries to make whether just using a prepared red curry paste or one you lovingly pound in your mortar with pestle.
We bought a clay type large mortar and a lovely heavy palm wood pestle from an old lady (kuhn meaning grandmother) in a local market in the Thai countryside, but these are available both online and from many Asian markets throughout the world.
The origination of the word Kaeng (curry) is often debated with some insisting it came long ago from the Mon people. Thai curries differ greatly from Indian curries as they do not usually include the various dry spices used by the Indians in their curries or masalas, but concentrate on mainly fresh ingredients.
Kaeng, Thai curry can be served simply over steamed jasmine rice or as a more elaborate meal with side condiment dishes including fish, hard boiled eggs, crispy fried meat, fresh chiles, fish sauce (nam pla), or even Mee Krob (crisy sweet noodles) for a contrast in texture and flavours.
When making a kaeng style chile paste one needs to have an understanding of using a combination of both fresh and dry ingredients and pounding them in the proper sequence.
Next one must learn to coordinate the tastes and textures of meats, fowl, seafood, and fresh vegetables. The selection will compliment the flavour of the kaeng or curry. This balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy is the essence of Thai cuisine.
1 lb. diced, boneless lean pork (pork tenderloin works great)
1 tbsp. red curry paste
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sweet basil leaves (bai horapha)
5 kaffir lime leaves, halved
1 fresh red chile (sliced lengthwise into 8 pieces)
1/2 cup sliced zucchini
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1/3 cup water
5 oz. bamboo-shoots (sliced lengthwise, fresh if available)*
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
Pour half the coconut milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring add the curry paste and chicken and slowly cook for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining coconut milk, water, bamboo shoots, Kaffir lime leaves, sliced chiles; sugar and fish sauce, return to a low boil.
Add the zucchini, simmer until just tender, remove from heat and serve garnishing with fresh Basil (Bai Horapha).
*Bamboo shoots often are available in Asian markets in glass jars which I prefer to tinned ones. Some markets will also have fresh bamboo shoots in the produce section.