Yes, Thai! Not Irish or German at all. And very good, this is going to be a new regular.
You may recall that a few weeks back I went to a Thai cooking demo with Kate McGhie at Cooking Coordinates in Belconnen. She handed out a bunch of recipes, and this is one of them, as twisted and mangled by yours truly. Originally it has twice the amount of pork, and pork belly at that, none of this lean stuff. Also no potatoes, and slightly more red curry paste and oil, and chopped roasted peanuts. Omitting the peanuts wasn't a deliberate policy; I just forgot them.
Recipe 1: North Thai Tamarind Pork Curry
700g lean pork, cubed
1/2 cup sweet soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
150g block tamarind
1 litre warm water
100g pickled garlic
12 cloves red shallots, peeled, and halved if large
600g new potatoes
2.5cm piece very fresh young ginger
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1/2 medium cabbage
Marinade the pork in the sweet soy for 15-20 minutes, but not longer.
Meanwhile, make tamarind water. Soak the block tamarind in the warm water for 5-10 minutes, give it a good squeeze, then strain and discard fibres and seeds.
Heat oil and curry paste, fry until fragrant. Add palm sugar, fry a little longer to caramelise. Add fish sauce, then pork. Fry 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, then add the pickled garlic and half the tamarind water to just cover pork. Simmer gently, uncovered, for an hour, then add the potatoes. Use remaining tamarind water to top up as needed. Add whole red shallot cloves, and simmer another 10 minutes
Serve on a bed of shredded raw cabbage, garnished with finely shredded young ginger and coriander. And peanuts if you have some...
Notes: Yes, shredded cabbage, not rice.
The curry is rich and strong, sweet and sour flavoured, and this is both cooling and a great textural contrast. I'd never have thought of it, so thanks to Kate McGhie. Pickled garlic comes from Asian grocers - buy the jars of peeled cloves, or make it by covering peeled garlic cloves in boiling vinegar, sugar and salt. It's not excessively strong. I've googled around a bit and this seems to be related to Gaeng Hang Lay, a northern Thai pork curry, and there is a Thai cucumber and cabbage salad, but the combination seems quite unusual.
Hang on, I've just found the pickled garlic recipe. I haven't made this myself, and don't intend to, but here goes.
Recipe 2: Pickled Garlic
2 cups peeled whole garlic cloves
1 cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup salt, extra, for brine
Make brine by dissolving 1/4 cup salt in 1 litre water. Soak garlic in brine overnight. Drain and pack into clean glass jars. Bring all other ingredients to boil, then pour over garlic. Tap to remove air bubbles, then seal. Leave for a week or two before eating.
Notes: Did I mention I don't plan to make it? Peeling dozens of cloves of garlic, no thanks! I do make pickled chillies in a similar manner, though - they keep for months in a cool dark cupboard.