Either the Accidental Locavore or my CSA, seems to be on a Thai/Asian theme lately. Anyway, this was a great use of some of the produce that was recently available. With any Oriental dish, the list of ingredients looks long, and here there’s some chopping involved, but once you get everything prepped, it’s quick to cook and finish. This is adapted from Tasting Table and while they said it feeds 4, 2 greedy people finished it off pretty easily as a main course.
- ¾ pound ground pork
- ½ cup fresh lime juice, divided use
- 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 medium shallots, finely chopped, divided
- 1 Thai red chile, seeded and finely chopped (substitute serranos, if you want and add more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
- 3 Kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced (or use the zest of a lime)
- ¼ cup finely chopped basil, plus more for garnish (use Thai basil if you have it)
- ¼ cup finely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass (you can buy it pre-chopped in Asian groceries)
- 1 head Boston or bibb lettuce, carefully separated into whole leaves
- 3 radishes, cut into fine matchsticks
- 2 scallions, sliced diagonally into ½” pieces
- ¼ cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
In a medium bowl, pour ¼ cup of the lime juice over the pork. Set aside and let marinate for 15 minutes.
In another medium bowl (I used a 2-cup measuring cup), whisk together the rest of the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, half the chopped shallots, chile, lime leaves, basil, mint and cilantro. Set aside.
In a large skillet, or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer, about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the shallots and the lemongrass and cook until fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add the pork (and lime juice), breaking it up with a spatula. Cook, stirring occasionally until the pork is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sauce and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and simmer until it’s slightly reduced, about 2-3 minutes.
Choose about 8 of the best lettuce leaves (you want the ones that look most like little bowls) and line the bottoms of two bowls with them. Top with the pork mixture and drizzle the remaining sauce over it. Sprinkle with the radishes, scallions, peanuts, basil, cilantro, mint. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!
Our verdict: Frank gave it his highest praise, “you can make this any time”, so you know it will go into the repertoire. It was really delicious- refreshing on a hot steamy day. I will judiciously use a little more Thai chile next time, probably adding more in at the end. If you had some leftover pork, you could cut it into thin strips and use that in place of the ground. Other than that, the only possible addition I might make, would be to add some rice noodles if I wanted to stretch it. Try it and let me know what you think.