Pork and rice

Aren’t low expectations grand? It always makes me nervous to step into a restaurant laden with five-star reviews (I know, I can’t help help peeking). Even a little disappointment is still disappointment. I’d rather go in expecting mediocrity and be pleasantly surprised.

Where am I going with this? Not into a restaurant at all. The other night, I warned Laurie that I would be making that thing she doesn’t like very much. She’s not a huge fan of ground meat other than in burger form, and that thing–moo pad bai grapao–is nothing more than a pile of stir-fried ground pork on a bed of rice, with a fried egg.

It’s a Thai dish, incredibly simple and made with ingredients you probably have lying around. If you don’t have holy basil, use regular basil. If you don’t have pork, use beef. Thai chiles? Serrano chiles. Fish sauce? Well, tough luck. In the end, every grain of rice becomes slick with egg yolk and saucy pork.

Here’s how you make it, courtesy of David Thompson’s Thai Street Food, the best book of 2010. His version calls for beef, not a bad idea at all, but I’m much more likely to have leftover pork.

Laurie was pleasantly surprised.

STIR-FRIED MINCED PORK WITH CHILES AND HOLY BASIL
Adapted from Thai Street Food
Serves 2

The way this would be done in Thailand is to fry the eggs in the wok, either before or after cooking the rest of the dish. Whenever I fry an egg in a wok, however, I always break the yolk.

4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 to 10 Thai chiles, sliced
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
6 ounces ground pork
about 2 tablespoons fish sauce
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
2 large handfuls holy basil leaves
cooked jasmine rice
2 fried eggs

  • Stir together the garlic, chiles, and salt. Heat a wok or skillet over high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, and add the garlic, chiles, and salt. Stir-fry for a few seconds until fragrant, then add the pork. Continue to cook until the pork is cooked and starting to brown. Season to taste with fish sauce and sugar. Add the basil and stock or water and stir just until the basil is wilted. Remove from the heat.

  • Meanwhile, fry the eggs in the other tablespoon oil in a skillet. The proper fried egg for this dish has a runny yolk but a browned and leathery underside. If you’re a white-bottom fried egg purist, too bad.

  • Top each bowl of rice with a scoop of pork and broth and a fried egg. Serve immediately. I like to squeeze a lime wedge over the top if I have one on hand. Oh, and please eat it with a spoon.

13 thoughts on “Pork and rice

  1. Becca

    yay! it’s like you were reading my mind! on the Spilled Milk on Thai salads, you mentioned Thompson’s Thai Street Food and I promptly felt guilty since it’s been sitting (neglected) on my bookshelf since it was published, too overwhelming to even start in on. between the guilt (and my love of ground pork ;), this dish is going to happen this weekend. any other must try, not too hard dishes you would recommend from TSF? (oh, and can you and Molly do an episode on Dan Dan noodles? they’ve been on my mind since the PB episode…)

  2. mamster Post author

    Hey, Becca. I think a Dan Dan Noodle episode is a great idea, but I feel like I need to write an article about it first, because I’ve never made a version I was quite happy with–possibly because I’ve been in love with the one at Szechuan Chongqing Restaurant in Vancouver since I was 13.

    Let’s see, other great recipes from TSF (these recipe names are from memory so are probably a little off): the green papaya salad; charred rice noodles with chicken and squid; sour fish curry. Next on my list is the rad nah (rice noodles with chicken, greens, and gravy). I love fresh rice noodles.

  3. Becca

    yay again! I’ll try to be patient… I completely know where you are coming from; I’ve made good Dan Dan, but not great Dan Dan. And even more unsatisfying, the best Dan Dan I’ve made so far has started from a packet of Dan Dan spice paste from the local asian market, spiced up with more chili oil and szechuan peppercorns, which, while good (and fast), doesn’t quite cut it as making your own ;)

    If you are ever in Philly, the Dan Dan at Han’s Dynasty makes me so, so, so happy (and now I’m sad because it is a three hour drive…)

  4. Pingback: Stir-Fried Minced Beef with Chiles and Thai Basil « Scott Nems Doots

  5. Bonnie

    Sorry this is way off topic, but I really need your advice. I’m about to leave for Japan this week and wonder where you found the best exchange rate for changing money to be. Please feel free to yank this comment and email direct. Thanks, Matthew!

  6. mamster Post author

    Hi, Bonnie. You’ll get the best rate by making an ATM withdrawal or using your credit or debit card in Japan. You can use a Visa-logo ATM card at pretty much any ATM in Japan, but if you have a Mastercard logo card, you’ll probably need to go to the post office. Your card issuer will probably hit you with a 1% to 3% international fee, unless you use Schwab or Capital One or one of the few others that waive the fee, but it’s better than the 5% a US bank branch will charge you to buy paper yen. Does that help?

  7. Bonnie

    Yes, that does help. Thanks Matthew. Also – are there ATMs at NRT? What would be a good amount of cash to start with? We arrive around 5pm w/ 2hrs to the hotel and will probably go to bed or out for a bowl of ramen (Jiro’s nearby).

  8. mamster Post author

    Hi, Bonnie, sorry I missed your comment! Yes, there are ATMs at NRT. Iris and I started out with a lot of cash, about 50000 JPY, and it was very handy. It’s safe to carry cash in Tokyo. Hope you’re having a great trip.

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