This famous dipping sauce from Chiang Mai should be served as a main course with blanched vegetables such as wedges of eggplant or cabbage, pieces of snake bean or pumpkin, and asparagus spears. Pieces of deep-fried pork skin are also suitable.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 dried long red chilli
- 1 lemon grass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
- 4 Asian shallots, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon shrimp paste
- 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 oz (175 g) minced (ground) fatty pork
- 1 lb (450 g) tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons tamarind purée
- mixed vegetables, such as wedges of eggplant (aubergine), pieces of snake (yard-long) bean, wedges of cabbage, asparagus spears, baby corn, pieces of pumpkin (winter squash), to serve
- a few coriander (cilantro) leaves, for garnish
- pieces of pork skin, deep-fried, to serve
How to Make It
- Slit the chilli lengthways with a sharp knife and discard all the seeds. Soak the chilli in hot water for 1–2 minutes, or until soft, then drain and chop roughly. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the chilli, lemon grass, shallots and garlic into a paste. Add the shrimp paste and mix well. Alternatively, use a small processor or blender to grind or blend the chilli, lemon grass, shallots, garlic and shrimp paste into a smooth paste.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan or wok and stir-fry the paste over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the pork and stir for 2–3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind purée. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 25–30 minutes, or until the mixture is thick.
- Blanch briefly any tough vegetables such as eggplant, snake beans, asparagus and pumpkin. Drain well.
- Taste the sauce, then adjust with more tamarind, sugar or chilli if necessary. This dish should have three flavours: sweet, sour and lightly salted. Spoon into a bowl and garnish with the coriander. Serve with the vegetables and deep-fried pork skin.