I love this dish – it’s hot, succulent, salty and tart. It’s perfect for sharing with friends. Place the dish in the middle of the table with a pile of betel leaves and everyone can assemble their own. If you can’t find betel leaves, use lettuce leaves instead.
- 1 tbsp red curry paste
- 185 g (1 cup) cooked jasmine rice
- ½ cup coarsely grated fresh coconut
- pinch salt (1 g)
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 60 ml (¼ cup) water
- 200 g (½ cup) coarsely minced pork belly (ideally minced by hand)
- pinch salt (1g)
- pinch white sugar (1g)
- 60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice
- good pinch toasted chilli powder, plus extra, to serve
- 50 ml fish sauce, plus extra, to taste
- 1 tbsp roasted chopped peanuts (30 g)
- 1 handful shredded boiled pork belly skin (40 g see Notes)
- 6 coarsely sliced red Asian shallots (90 g)
- 2 tbsp ginger cut into julienne (40 g)
- 6 deep-fried bird’s eye chillies (10 g), or to taste
- 1 handful mint leaves, coarsely chopped (30 g)
- 1 handful long-leaf coriander, (pak chii farang) coarsely chopped (30 g)
- 1 tbsp fried sliced garlic, optional
- betel leaves, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 30 minutes
To make the crunchy rice cakes, place the curry paste, rice, coconut, salt and fish sauce in a bowl. Don’t over-season as the taste concentrates in flavour as it deep-fries. Use your hands to combine well, then set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to help prevent the cakes from falling apart during deep-frying.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium-low heat. Using moist hands, firmly shape the mixture into free-form cakes (about 50 g each), compacting the mixture as much as you can. Deep-fry the rice cakes in batches, for 5-10 minutes, or until golden and crunchy. You don’t want to cook them all the way through because you want the contrast in texture. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside. This can be done a few hours in advance.
To make the spicy pork, heat a wok over high heat. Add the water, pork, salt and sugar, and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, for 1-2 minutes or until nearly cooked. Add the lime juice, chilli powder and fish sauce and continue to cook until golden. Add the peanuts, then break the rice cakes into large pieces and add to the pan. Check the seasoning again and, if necessary, add more fish sauce. It should taste equally sour and salty and be quite dry. Add all the remaining ingredients and cook just until the pork skin is heated through - you don’t want to overcook it. Stir in the deep-fried garlic, then transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with a little extra chilli powder and serve with betel leaves for wrapping.
• To cook the pork skin, cook in boiling water for about 20 minutes or until soft, then drain well.