Typical of Northern Thai cuisine where the flavours are uncompromisingly hot and sour, versions of this dish also appear in northeast Burma and in Yunnan province in China. In Thailand, it’s made using khanom jeen noodles, a type of fresh, fermented rice noodle - for ease, this version uses thin dried rice stick noodles. Cubes of congealed pork blood and the dried flower of the red cotton tree, said to add a sour dimension, are also used in Thailand.
- 600 g pork ribs
- 2 L (8 cups) chicken stock
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 250 g pork mince
- 2 tbsp fermented soybean sauce (see note)
- 4 tomatoes (about 600 g), cut into wedges
- 300 g dried rice stick noodles
- 200 g (2 cups) mung bean sprouts, ends trimmed
- 200 g pickled mustard greens (see note), rinsed and sliced
- fried pork rinds and dried chilli flakes, to serve
- 8 dried chillies
- 150 g largeshallots (about 4), chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2.5 cm piece of galangal, chopped
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only, chopped
- 1 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh turmeric or 1 tsp dried turmeric
- 2 tsp ground coriander
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.
Soaking time 30 minutes
Cut down the side of each pork rib to separate the ribs then place them in a large saucepan with the stock. Bring stock to a simmer, skimming to remove any impurities that rise to the surface, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes or until ribs are tender.
Meanwhile, to make the spice paste, place the chilies in a small bowl, pour over enough boiling water to cover, then stand for 30 minutes or until softened. Drain well then combine in a food processor with the remaining ingredients and process until a paste forms.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the spice paste and pork mince then cook, stirring to break up the meat, for about 5 minutes or until fragrant and the pork has change colour. Add the mixture to the ribs in the pan with the fermented soy bean sauce and tomato. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened but are still holding their shape.
Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large bowl then add enough boiling water to cover. Stand for 10 minutes, stirring them occasionally with chopsticks to keep them separate, or until softened, then drain well. Divide the noodles among four large bowls then top each with some of the ribs and the bean sprouts. Ladle over the stock mixture then serve with pork rinds, pickled mustard leaves and chilli flakes passed separately.
• Fermented soy bean sauce is a brownish, thick, lumpy, salty sauce that gives a lovely savoury edge to dishes and is used a lot in Thai, and other South East Asian, cooking. It’s easily found in Asian food stores.
• Also known as gai choy, mustard greens are commonly pickled in brine and have a salty-sour tang. Most Asian grocers sell them in plastic vacuum packs - look for ones with a good green-yellow colour. Rinse them before using.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page.