I use a lot of minced pork in my kitchen. Sometimes, as with the first recipe, it plays a supporting role in a dish, used in small amounts to add flavour to vegetables and other ingredients. Other times, as with the larb recipe, the pork is the main focus.
Stir-fried long beans with minced pork, sakura shrimp and cha choi
For this dish, I like to use sakura shrimp (available in Japanese food sections of supermarkets), which have a more delicate texture and flavour than Chinese dried shrimp (which are also delicious). I don’t soak sakura shrimp. If you like, use Chinese dried shrimp, but they need to be soaked in hot water.
Dried shrimp roe (ha ji) is usually sold in small glass jars. The roe is tiny and looks like reddish-brown dust, but it has a strong flavour. You can leave it out, if you wish. Cha choi (Sichuan preserved mustard vegetable, also called zha cai) comes whole (as a large lump covered with a red-orange paste), or cut into strips and sold in packages.
100 grams minced pork
5ml soy sauce
5ml rice wine
½ tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
A pinch of finely ground white pepper
1 tsp cornstarch
10 grams dried sakura shrimp
300 grams long beans
40 grams cha choi
1 garlic clove
1-2 red bird’s-eye chilli
Dried shrimp roe, optional
Oil, for stir-frying
Put the pork in a bowl then add the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, salt, pepper and cornstarch and mix thoroughly. Briefly rinse the sakura shrimp then drain them before blotting with paper towels. If using Chinese dried shrimp, soak them in hot water until pliable, then drain (reserve the soaking liquid). If they’re large, cut them into smaller pieces.
Cut the long beans into 5mm pieces. If using whole cha choi (you won’t need the whole piece), rinse it and dry it. Whatever type you’re using, cut it into small dice. Cut the garlic clove in half. Halve the bird’s-eye chilli lengthwise and scrape out and discard the seeds. Finely mince the chilli.
Heat a wok over a high flame and, when it’s very hot, add about 10ml of cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and stir-fry constantly for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Use a metal spatula to take the shrimp from the wok, leaving behind as much oil as possible. Add the garlic and chilli and stir for about 10 seconds. Add the marinated pork to the wok and use the spatula to break it up into smaller pieces. Stir fry over a high flame until the pork starts to lose its pink colour, then remove the meat, garlic and chilli from the wok.
Pour about 10ml of oil into the wok and place it back over the flame. When the oil is hot, add the long beans. Stir constantly over a high flame for about 30 seconds then add the pork and shrimp back to the wok. Mix the ingredients together then add the cha choi and about 30ml of water (or shrimp soaking liquid) and stir well. Scrape all the ingredients to the centre of the wok then lower the flame and cover the wok with the lid.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the long beans are crisp-tender; if the mixture seems dry, add more water (or shrimp soaking liquid). Mix in about a quarter of a teaspoon of shrimp roe (if using). Taste for seasonings and correct, if needed. Transfer the ingredients to a serving dish and sprinkle with a little more shrimp roe. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.
Ground toasted rice powder is sold at Thai grocery shops; it adds flavour and texture to the dish.
1 tsp Thai chilli flakes, or to taste
2 lemongrass stalks
2 medium-sized shallots
2 spring onions
2 garlic cloves
A few fresh coriander sprigs
500 grams minced pork
About 45ml Thai fish sauce
About 50ml fresh lime juice
1½ tsp granulated sugar, or to taste
10 grams ground toasted rice powder
A small handful of fresh mint leaves
Romaine lettuce leaves
Put the chilli flakes in a small skillet and place it over a low flame. Stir constantly until the chilli flakes smell toasted, but take care because there is a fine line between toasted and burnt. Immediately put the toasted chilli flakes into a small dish.
Cut off the dry tops of the lemongrass stalk so only the juicy lower part (about 6cm) remains, then peel off the tough outside layers to reveal the core. Finely slice the core into thin rounds. Cut the shallots in half then thinly slice them. Cut the spring onions into 5mm pieces and mince the garlic cloves. Roughly chop the coriander sprigs.
Heat a wok over a medium flame then add the oil. Add the pork and stir constantly until the meat is fully cooked, but not brown. Transfer the pork to a bowl and leave for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. While the meat is still warm, add the lemongrass, shallot, spring onion, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Stir well then taste: add more fish sauce, lime juice and/or sugar, if needed. Mix in the toasted rice powder, mint leaves and coriander. Spoon the ingredients onto a serving plate and serve with the lettuce leaves.