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Pork neck, snake bean and peppercorn curry

You'll need

1 pork neck (1.5kg), cut into 6cm pieces 250 ml homemade coconut cream (see note) 350 gm snake beans, cut into 8cm lengths 400 ml homemade coconut milk (see note) 8 kaffir lime leaves, torn, plus 2 extra, shredded, to serve 4-6 young peppercorn sprigs (see note) 40 gm light palm sugar 2 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste ½ cup (firmly packed) Thai basil 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced, to serve To serve: steamed rice or rice noodles   Curry paste 2 tsp coriander seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds ½ tsp black peppercorns 20 gm large dried chillies (about 15 chillies), soaked in warm water for 25 minutes, drained, finely chopped 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped 2 shallots, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, crushed 8 red birdseye chillies, seeded 2 tsp shrimp paste 1½ tsp finely grated galangal 6 coriander roots, washed, finely chopped Rind of 1 small kaffir lime, removed with a peeler, finely chopped


  • 01
  • Place pork in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, season to taste with sea salt, bring to the simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until pork is tender (40-50 minutes). Remove from heat, drain, set aside.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for curry paste, dry-roast coriander, cumin and peppercorns until fragrant (2 minutes), then finely grind in a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a food processor, add remaining ingredients and ½ tsp salt, process to a smooth paste and set aside.
  • 03
  • Heat 150ml coconut cream in a wok until oil begins to separate (3-5 minutes). Add three-quarters of the curry paste (remainder will keep refrigerated for 1 week) and cook until fragrant (2 minutes). Add pork and snake beans, stir-fry until coated (1-2 minutes). Add remaining coconut cream and coconut milk and bring to the simmer, then add torn lime leaves, peppercorn sprigs, palm sugar and fish sauce (adjust seasoning to taste) and simmer until well flavoured (2-3 minutes), then add half the basil leaves. Serve curry scattered with remaining basil, shredded kaffir lime leaves and chilli with rice or rice noodles to the side.

Note For the best result, make your own coconut cream and milk (see below). Otherwise, use the canned versions; we recommend the Ayam brand. Young peppercorn sprigs are available fresh and in brine from Thai grocers.

To make coconut milk, Thai food authority David Thompson suggests processing the flesh in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Gradually add 350ml hot (not boiling) water for every coconut and process to combine, then transfer to a bowl and work with your hands to extract as much flavour as possible (3-5 minutes). Strain the liquid through a muslin-lined sieve into a bowl and squeeze to extract all liquid (discard solids). One coconut processed with 350ml water yields about 350ml coconut milk. If a recipe calls for slightly more coconut milk than you've made, you can top it up with water. It can be used as full-fat milk or the coconut cream can be separated from it.

To make coconut cream, first make coconut milk, refrigerate it until the cream rises to the top, then skim the cream. If you leave the milk to separate overnight, a very thick layer of cream will rise. In this case, return about one-quarter of the cream to the milk to give it more body; whisk to re-emulsify.

Cooking the pork neck slowly before stir-frying it makes it very tender. You will need 2 mature coconuts to make the coconut milk and coconut cream for this recipe.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Medium-sweet French farmhouse cider.

Featured in

Jan 2011

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