One of the great things about cooking up a hunk of meat is that you can re-purpose it for a variety of dishes over the course of days. A case in point is the crisp roast pork belly from last week. Man, has it come in handy this week when I needed to put together quick meals. My husband and I couldn’t eat all 3 pounds of it at once so I made pork belly banh mi sandwiches from part of the leftovers. With the remaining amount of roast pork, I prepared this Thai stir-fry. I recently tasted this dish at Lers Ros and was instantly captivated by marriage of rich pork belly with a garlicky-spicy-savory-sweet sauce.
Lers Ros is arguably one of the best and most authentic Thai restaurants in San Francisco these days. It’s open till 2am, if you’re game to venture to the Tenderloin at those hours, or any hour for that fact. It’s worth it, I assure you. (If you know how to properly pronounce the name, please help the rest of the dining public with some phonetics. Update 3/21/10: Thanks to Leela, we now know how to say this. See the comments section below.)
My husband and I went to the restaurant for a reunion of sorts with my food friends, stylist Karen Shinto and photographer Penny De Los Santos. Journalist Scott Hocker, editor of TastingTableSF also joined us. Karen had read Scott’s mention of the fried pork belly at Lers Ros and she wanted to order it. Scott was delayed as he was biking over and as we waited for him, we couldn’t find the pork belly on the restaurant’s dizzying menu. When Scott arrived, we handed him a glass of wine and promptly asked him to find the pork belly on the menu. Alas, it was hidden under rice plate offerings. Look for item #62, Pad Kra Pow Moo Krob.
I was expecting a crispy deep-fried pork belly but the dish that appeared was really a stir-fry of roasted pork belly with lots of garlic, some ground chile and Thai basil. How clever of Thai cooks to cut up roasted pork and cook it up with some saucy seasonings.
With that leftover roasted pork belly in the fridge, I went about looking for the recipe. I hit pay-dirt in David Thompson’s Thai Street Food, a physically ginormous cookbook (about 8 pounds) that is available in the U.K. and Australia for now and will be released in the U.S. until late September. Thompson had greens in his pad kana moo krob recipe, which I welcomed as it picked up the flavors from the simple seasonings, and provided nice textural contrast to the pork. Lers Ros was extravagantly about featuring just meat in their rendition of pad kra pow moo krob with the Thai basil , but it was admittedly for me, slightly off balance. The greens completed the preparation but it deviates slightly from what Lers Ros offers. (Many thanks to Panya and Hsunchi for contributing their insights to this recipe!)
Roasted Pork Belly Stir-Fried with Garlic and Greens
Pad Kana Moo Krob
With guidance from Thompson’s recipe, I devised my own, parboiling the vegetable to ensure even cooking during stir-frying and adding fresh chile heat as a back note. Here you are. Feel free to buy Chinese-style roast pork for this. Slender and tender broccolette, grown by Earthbound Farm, is a cross between broccoli and gailan with a sweetness that's somewhat like asparagus; it's grown organically and sold at markets such as Whole Foods. I believe that broccolini and broccolette are interchangeable, if not the same plant with different cutie names. Regular broccoli or gailan would work too.Serves 4
1 (6-ounce) bunch broccolette/broccolini, gailan or broccoli
2/3 pound Crisp Roasted Pork Belly or roast pork purchased from Chinese barbecue shop
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons light (regular) soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 pinches of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 or 2 Fresno or Japaleno chiles, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
Ground white pepper
1. Trim and discard the broccolette ends, then cut it into2 to 3-inch lengths. If using gailan, you may need to peel the stems to make them tender.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the greens, and parboil for about 1 minute. Drain, flush with cold water and drain well. Set aside.
3. If the pork belly skin has softened and needs refreshing, put the whole slab of belly skin side down in a skillet or wok over medium heat for a few minutes. This will recrisp the skin. Check on it periodically. Remove to plate to cool slightly.
Regardless of whether or not you had to recrisp the skin, slice the pork into 3/4-inch-thick pieces. Now cut the pieces crosswise into chunky long pieces, each about the size of your thumb. Set aside.
4. Combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, water, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Set this seasoning liquid aside.
5. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the garlic and chiles, and stir for about 30 seconds until the garlic has just slightly browned. Add the pork, stirring for 1 minute to warm. Add the greens, give the mixture a stir to combine, then add the seasoning liquid.
Cook, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is barely visible. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with white pepper, and serve with lots of rice.
- Roasted Pork Belly Banh Mi Sandwich Recipe
- Crisp Roasted Pork Belly Recipe (Thit Heo Quay)
- Mini-review of Thai Street Food by David Thompson