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Red curry pork from Kiin.
Kiin, which means “eat” in Thai, includes more than 100 northern specialties as well as classic dishes eaten throughout the country.
Our cookbook of the week is Kiin by chef Nuit Regular. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with the author.
Growing up in northern Thailand, red curry pork was chef Nuit Regular’s annual birthday wish. Each year, her mother made it for her as a celebratory treat using the ingredients Regular had gathered earlier in the day.
Whacking low-hanging coconuts from trees, chopping away the husks and sipping the refreshing water trapped inside before spending hours squeezing the milk from the flesh — Regular kicked off every birthday the same way, in anticipation of the curry to come.
After she had harvested the coconuts, Regular would then head into the garden, where her mother showed her which Thai basil leaves, lemongrass stalks and chilies were ready to be picked. “It wasn’t just my special birthday curry,” she writes. “It was our special birthday tradition.”
The use of coconut milk made it especially celebratory, Regular explains. Because the climate of the north isn’t as conducive to coconut groves as the rest of the country, northern curries are typically spice-forward, without the addition of coconut milk.
“My mom was very modern back then,” recalls Regular. “Because instead of birthday cake, she made me red curry. She was very different from (the rest of) our village. The people living there don’t really care to serve it much, but my mom would go out of her way, ‘Hey, let’s make red curry.’ And we had jasmine rice, which we didn’t normally cook at home either. It was so special.”
Red curry pork
Gaeng Phed Moo
You’ll need to marinate the pork for at least 2 hours or overnight.
7 oz (200 g) pork shoulder blade, cut against the grain into long strips about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide and 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick
Standard Meat Marinade (recipe follows)
1 cup (250 mL) water
1 tbsp (15 mL) lime juice
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
4 Thai, Indian or Chinese eggplants
1 cup (250 mL) thick part of coconut milk
1/4 (50 mL) cup Red Curry Paste (recipe follows)
1/2 cup (125 mL) bite-size pieces peeled butternut squash
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) well-shaken coconut milk + 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) water, well combined (this is your thin coconut milk)
2 fresh red spur chilies, cut crosswise into 1 1/2 inches (4 cm)-inch pieces
1 cup (250 mL) packed fresh Thai basil leaves
5 magrud lime leaves (a.k.a. makrut lime)
2 tbsp (30 mL) Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) coconut sugar
Steamed Jasmine Rice (see recipe), for serving
1. In a medium bowl, combine the pork and the standard meat marinade. Mix with your hands. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. The pork should absorb all the marinade. If not, wipe away the excess marinade before adding the pork to the pot.
2. Prepare the eggplant: In a medium bowl, stir together the water, lime juice and salt. Trim the ends off each eggplant, then cut lengthwise into quarters. Add to the bowl and soak to prevent the eggplant from turning brown. Set aside. Drain and rinse just before cooking.
3. In a medium pot over high heat, heat the thick coconut milk until it bubbles thoroughly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red curry paste, pork, and squash and stir to mix. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. The curry paste should start to bubble and the oil will rise to the top. Add the thin coconut milk and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.
4. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring constantly to fully submerge the eggplant to prevent it from turning brown. Add the chilies, Thai basil leaves, lime leaves and fish sauce. Mix well and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut sugar and 1/2 cup of the curry sauce until the sugar is fully dissolved, then stir into the pot. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Standard meat marinade
Nham Mhak Nua Sud
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 mL) tapioca starch
1/2 tsp (2 mL) sea salt
2/3 to 1 lb (300 to 450 g) chicken, pork or beef
1. In a medium bowl, combine the water, vegetable oil, tapioca starch and salt. Stir until the salt and starch have fully dissolved.
2. Add the meat to the bowl and mix well. I like to stir the meat in a clockwise motion to massage until all the liquid has been absorbed. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Makes: enough to marinate 2/3 to 1 lb (300 to 450 g) of meat
Red curry paste
1 tbsp (15 mL) coriander seeds
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black cumin seeds
15 white peppercorns
7 dried red spur chilies, seeded, cut into small pieces, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes until softened and squeezed dry
1 tbsp (15 mL) paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
1/4 cup (50 mL) thinly sliced lemongrass (about 2 stalks)
1 tbsp (15 mL) thinly sliced galangal
1 teaspoon grated magrud lime zest
1/4 cup (50 mL) unpeeled Thai garlic cloves or thinly sliced peeled regular garlic
1/4 cup (50 mL) thinly sliced shallots
1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp (22 mL) Thai shrimp paste
1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and white peppercorns and toast, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
2. Using a stone mortar and pestle, grind the toasted spices to a fine powder. Add the chilies, paprika, and salt and grind to a paste. One at a time, and pounding to a paste after each addition, add the lemongrass, galangal, lime zest, garlic, shallots and shrimp paste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Makes: 1/2 cup (125 mL)
Recipes and image excerpted from Kiin by Nuit Regular. Copyright © 2020 by Nuit Regular. Photography copyright © 2020 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020