Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pork Kang Pa / Jungle Curry Pork

Lately, I’ve been nostalgically thinking about my dad cooking: what he liked to eat; what he liked to cook the most, and what I’ve learned from him. 

My dad loved to cook and loved to eat spicy food.  Even though the weather in Thailand was so hot, sticky and yucky with the high humidity and boiling temperature, but when it's a time for cooking, some chilies, more or less, had to be included every time.     There was one dish that my dad had cooked most often than other dishes.   I remember very well because I was there to help him vigorously pounding the homemade chili paste with the heavy pastel and mortar that made out of granite for...like forever!    The dish called Kang-Pa.    The dish was very very very spicy that when you eating it, it would make you sweat and perspire like you just got out from the hot steam shower, in which he said that was a good thing; it was good for blood circulation.   the meat of his choice for this dish was usually beef most of the time.  (I was still eating beef then when I was younger but stopped in my early 20s)    However, today I make Kang-Pa with pork because I've gave up eating beef meat long time ago.    What about the hubby if you are curious?   The hubby only prefers good cut of steak once or twice a week.     But if you have noticed, there was only one dish I cooked with beef posted on my blog.

Kang-Pa has translated to many names in English that were tried to provide some senses of what the dish is about.   Some might call it “Jungle curry” or “Country-Style curry” or “Kang-Ped.”   But whatever name one might call, it basically the kind of curry that has no coconut milk included.    The popular vegetables used for this dish are either Thai eggplants or bamboo shoot.   But any vegetables you like to eat would also work.

The dish has lots of Thai herbs and each one of them has its own little heat more or less.
First, we have red curry chili paste.  Yes, it is chili paste after all, and it’s spicy!
Second, the young green peppercorn has mild and gentle heat at first, but its heat has ability to warm your body up from the inside out.   It also has a well reputation of a fat- burner herb.
Third, Krachai is a relative of ginger and galangal, and yes, they are herbs.  Its aromatic light brow roots has less heat but it is famously used to add favor in Thai cooking.   Also, Krachai has an antimicrobial properties and help relieve stomach ache caused by gas and bloating.
And last, the Thai holy basil.   Many people are confused between Thai basil and Thai holy basil. Both types of basil have its own distinctive aroma and flavor but the differences between the two can be checked on its leaf.   Thai basil has a purple hue and smoother leaf, while the Thai holy basil has bright green color and if you look closely, its leaf has very tiny fine fur on it.   And if you rub on the Thai holy basil leaf, or chew on it, you will get the hint of lemony mixed heat which has stronger taste than the Thai basil.

Imagine how hot and spicy this dish would be with all those heat adding up together?    Oh yes! And believe me, this dish is definitely not for the faint of heart.   All I know is that my dad would definitely be really proud of me right now. 

What you need:   can be served 3-4 people

10 oz. pork meat, sliced into bite size
2 tbsp. Kang Pa chili paste or red curry chili paste
1/4 cup young green peppercorn in brine
1/4 cup Krachai in brine
1/2 cup zucchini, cut into bite size as you preferred (Thai eggplants is originally used)
3 oz. Shimeji mushrooms, root trimmed (or other type of mushrooms but not shitake)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
6-7 Thai chili, sliced
1/4 cup Thai holy basil leaves

How to:

- Set a sauté pan over medium heat, add canola/vegetable oil into the pan to heat up
- Add chili paste into the hot oil and stir fry until it fragrant
- Add pork meat and stir to cook the meat
- Add water, green peppercorn, Krachai, mushroom, and zucchini
- Season with fish sauce and sugar and add sliced chili
- Low the heat and let it simmer until the vegetables are cooked through
- Add Thai holy basil leaves and turn off the heat
- Serve with steamed jasmine white/brown rice




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