Easy Green Curry With Pork (Gkaeng Kiow Wahn Moo)

Course : Curry
Serves: 1
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2 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons green curry paste
1 pound pork*
1/2 pound small Thai eggplants**
1/2 cup shelled fresh peas
2 medium kaffir lime leaves -- (bai ma-gkrood)
1 tablespoons fish sauce -- (nam pla) to taste
2 teaspoons palm sugar -- or to taste
3/4 cup fresh Thai sweet basil leaves and flowers
1 medium slivered chiles -- to desired hotness

Preparation / Directions:

* Cut against the grain of the muscle into bite-size strips about 2 x 1 x 1/4 in. ** Cut in halves or quarters, or substitute with 2 long Asian eggplants, cut in bite-size chunks. Do not shake the can of coconut milk before opening, so that the cream remains on top. Spoon about 2/3 cup of this thick cream into a medium-size saucepan and heat over medium to high heat. Reduce until smooth and bubbly and until oil begins to separate from the cream. Add the curry paste and fry in the cream for a few minutes to release the aromas. Then pour in the remaining milk. Bring to a boil and add the pork. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes uncovered before adding the Thai eggplants and pea eggplants. Simmer a few minutes more, then stir in the peas (if using instead of pea eggplants) and kaffir lime leaves. Season to taste with fish sauce (may not be needed if the curry paste is already salted). Add palm sugar to balance and enhance the spice and herb flavors to your liking. Continue to simmer until eggplants and peas are tender. Stir in the basil and chiles (as desired for added hotness) and cook another minute. Serve hot over plain steamed rice. Notes and Pointers: The preferred canned coconut milk for this recipe is Chao Koh, and Mae Anong is a good choice for a prepackaged paste. It comes in plastic pouches with the picture of a young woman (Mae Anong herself) on the upper right hand corner and is also identified as "Lemon Grass Brand." Rather than the translated name of "green curry," this brand labels the curry with the Thai name, "Kang Kiew Wan" (a different spelling from mine). There are many kinds of small eggplants in Thailand. Round ones the size of tomatillos, which we call ma-keua bprawh, are very good in this curry. Deeper green on top and graduating to a lighter bottom, these are seedy eggplants and taste nothing like the large purple aubergines. Cooked until softened, they soak in the curry flavors and add a thickness to the sauce. Other smaller members of the eggplant family are ma-keua puang and resemble large green peas, though their taste is entirely different. They are bitter, but when simmered in the curry sauce they impart an extraordinary roundness to the sauce. Much of their bitter bite dissipates when they have completely softened with sufficient cooking. Both these eggplants are available in Thai and Southeast Asian markets, especially during the warmer months of the year, though the latter is usually harder to find. Specialty produce markets and gourmet supermarkets have also started to carry them. Using this recipe, a red curry can be easily made by substituting a red curry paste and cut-up boneless chicken. For a fabulous roasted duck curry, buy a roasted duck the next time you visit the Chinatown near your home and use it instead of the pork. Toward the end of cooking, skim off the fat that has cooked out of the duck and add two small, firm and still slightly green tomatoes, cut in bite-size wedges. Source: "It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions and the Joys of Thai Cooking" by Kasma Loha-unchit.

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