This spicy-sour-salty Thai dish of minced pork with chilli, garlic, fish sauce and lime juice is often eaten as an appetiser, but it can also be served as a light main course, with a bowl of steamed white rice. Toasted rice powder is sold at Thai shops; it adds a slightly grainy texture and mild crunch. If you can't find it, make your own by constantly stirring raw long-grain rice in an unoiled skillet until golden and toasted. Let it cool, and grind it in a spice grinder. It keeps for weeks if stored in an airtight container.
1 tsp fine chilli flakes, or to taste
2 lemon grass stalks
15ml cooking oil
500 grams minced pork
About 45ml Thai fish sauce
About 50ml fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
2 medium shallots, halved, then thinly sliced
2 spring onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ground toasted rice powder
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh coriander sprigs
Romaine lettuce leaves
Lightly toast the chilli flakes in an unoiled skillet, stirring constantly.
Trim off and discard the tough tops of the lemon grass, leaving behind only the (relatively) tender base, then remove the dry outside layers of the stalks to expose the juicy core. Finely mince the core.
Place a wok over a medium flame then add the oil.When the oil is hot, add the meat and stir constantly so it cooks without browning.
Put the meat in a bowl and leave to cool slightly.
When the meat is warm, add the chilli flakes, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, shallot, onion, lemon grass and garlic.
Mix thoroughly then taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Stir in the toasted rice powder, then gently mix in the fresh mint and coriander.
Pile on a plate and serve with the lettuce leaves.