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18th November
written by Steph

Thai Pork with Chiles & Basil and Coconut Rice

Here at Steph & Tony Investigate!  we’re pretty adventurous eaters and we just love trying global cuisines.  Of course, one of the tricky things about having a penchant for international food is that making it yourself is not always a winning proposition.  We love us some Vietnamese food, but that stuff takes ages to make on your own (though perhaps not now that we finally have a handy kitchen mandolin), and it never tastes quite like what we get at our favorite place (likely because we don’t have all the right spices).  Thai food is a little bit more successful for us, and while I don’t know exactly how authentic this recipe is, it definitely tasted really good!  For this dish, I followed yet another Martha Stewart recipe (can you tell that I’m obsessed?) to good results.  And even more shocking I pretty much followed the recipe as was to a T, with minimal changes on my part: Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
  • Coarse salt
  • 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 long hot peppers or red jalapeno chiles, seeded and sliced into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef sirloin  --> instead we used ground pork
  • 1 can of “Asian mixed veggies” (contained bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, and baby corn)
  • 1 can of oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil leaves --> my basil plant sadly died for inexplicable reasons, so we had to use some of that “fresh basil paste” that comes in a tube and that you can find over in the refrigerated produce section
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • 1 egg per plate (optional)
Method 1)  Prepare rice.  We have a rice cooker, and if you don’t have one, I cannot recommend them highly enough, because they make cooking rice a breeze and it’s one less thing to worry about.  So, using a rice cooker, I simply put my rice in and then instead of water put in the can of coconut milk and started the rice cooker.  Done! 2)  Mix together your sauce.  In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, and set aside. 3)  When your rice is almost finished cooking (mine starts a countdown when it’s got about 9 minutes left), heat your wok over medium-high heat.   Add oil, then add in your ground meat (make sure it’s room temperature so that it browns instead of steams!). Let the meat sit so that it caramelizes and browns – if you stir the pan and agitate the meat, it will cook but not caramelize, so let it sit for at least a minute before stirring.  Once you do stir the meat, add in your garlic and half of the hot peppers (by already having the meat in the pan, you’ll ensure that the other items don’t burn). 4)  If using the egg garnish, heat a second pan over medium heat and crack your eggs gently into the pan.  The goal is to cook them sunnyside up/overeasy, so that the yolk remains runny.  My general method is to cook over medium heat for about a minute until the white looks like it’s just about to set, then cover the pan with a lid and remove from heat for about 2 – 3 minutes. 5)  Once meat looks cooked through (about 4 minutes), add in your canned veggies & mushrooms, and top with sauce.  Cook for another 30 seconds or so. Then add in your basil and the remaining half of the peppers.  Stir to combine, then remove from heat.  Top rice with the meat mixture and fried egg.  Squeeze lime juice over top and  eat!
Everything is better when topped with a fried egg... trust us.

Everything is better when topped with a fried egg... trust us.

This was a really quick meal that tasted fantastic.  I added in extra veggies in order to make it the meal more balanced and to get all of the food groups in, and I think they really worked with the meat and the sauce.  I also really liked my substitution of the pork in lieu of beef – it had a nice strong flavor that paired nicely with the fish sauce component of the main sauce.  I think this meal would taste quite different using a different type of meat, and I’m interested in trying out ground beef and even ground chicken in the future.  I think this would also be a nice way to use up any veggies you have on hand that you need to get rid of quickly; just think of it as a stirfry and go for it! The fried egg might have been gratuitous, but we love our eggs around here and it’s incredibly rich and kind of luscious to have the egg yolk mix with the creamy coconut rice.  Plus, based on other Asian dishes we've had in the past, the fried egg actually appears to be pretty popular in South East Asian cooking.  It added another dimension to the dish, and quite honestly I don’t know that I could ever make this dish WITHOUT the egg! All in all, a quick and easy meal perfect for during the week when you want something with strong flavors and something with an Asian twist.  Take out the time to cook the rice, and this dish takes all of about 10 minutes to prepare.  Invest in that rice cooker (ours even has a timer so that we can program it in the morning!) and this will be one of the easiest dishes you'll add to your culinary repertoire.  Considering how good it tastes, and the low cost of the ingredients (you can get everything you need at an international grocer, and this meal probably rings in at $5 for 4 generous servings), and it doesn’t get much better than this.  We’ll definitely be making this one again in the future, and I hope you give it a try.


  1. Eva

    I LOVE Jasmine rice! 🙂 And I love my rice cooker too, although it’s not fancy at all ($10 at Walgreens). I could try this with tofu pretty easily…I love Thai food, but my fave restaurant right near our house isn’t gluten-free, and I’ve had problems the last two times I’ve ordered there. 🙁

  2. 11/18/2009

    @ Eva: I didn’t even think about tofu, but you could easily substitute that in… or really any other meat-alternative, like tempeh. I think there are some substitutes (tempeh possibly being one of them) that have a ground-meat texture, so that would probably work well here. You’d also want to be sure to substitute in something else for the fish sauce, since that’s not veg friendly either… apparently there’s “vegetarian fish sauce” which seems like an oxy-moron, but apparently it’s meant to mimic the taste of FS without using actual fish!

  3. Amy

    I’ve never made Thai food before but this sounds delicious! I love a reason to use my rice cooker too, it’s so simple and the rice is alwways good!

  4. 11/19/2009

    @ Amy: Pretty much the only Thai I try is the curries (I’ve done a green curry once, and Massaman curries MANY times), and while they’re good, they always taste just slightly different from what we get at the restaurants. I think part of my fondness for this one is that I had no baseline to compare it to, and I was able to just enjoy it for what it was!

  5. […] Thai Pork with Chiles & Basil over Coconut Rice […]

  6. 11/19/2009

    I’ve been wanting to try some Thai cooking. I’m glad you think that it’s easier to pull off, taste-wise, than other exotic foods. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. 11/19/2009

    @ Sarah: Again, I have no idea how authentic this dish is (it is from Martha Stewart after all, and last I checked, she wasn’t Thai) BUT it is really tasty, and I think that’s what’s most important here. I hope it works for you!

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