A Little Known Classic Thai Dish
This is a dish that's ubiquitous in Thailand, and a favourite amongst kids and adults alike. Kids love it because it's not spicy. Adults love it because it's just super yummy and goes great with a cold beer! If you know my Garlic Pepper Chicken recipe, this one is a similar idea, but different. Apart from the obvious pork VS chicken, we are also deep frying instead of stir-frying. Trust me, the deep frying makes all the difference!
It's a dish that many people make at home, but you can also find it sold by street vendors or even some nicer restaurants. Have it with some rice as part of a bigger meal, but I also love it with some Thai sticky rice.
Fried Garlic & Garlic Oil
Fried garlic is an ingredient that comes up very often in Thai cuisine. We sprinkle it on so many different dishes: noodle soups, dumplings, congee, and deep fried foods like this dish. We use it so much that you can buy jars of fried garlic already made from the store. However, the flavour is so much stronger when you make it fresh.
When you make fried garlic, the oil will become scented with garlic so keep that oil! Sprinkle garlic oil on any dish to instantly add fried garlic flavour. You can keep the oil in the fridge for a few months.
The most important thing is to not to over fry garlic—you want light golden yellow, not golden brown, otherwise you'll have bitter garlic!
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- 250g pork butt, ¼” thick slices (see note)
- 2 tsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- 1 head garlic, divided
- ½ tsp white peppercorns
- 8 cilantro stems, chopped (keep the leaves for garnish)
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- Jasmine rice for serving
Note: Pork butt, also known as pork shoulder, is a flavourful and fatty cut that I prefer for this. When you slice it, trim off any large chunks of fat, but leave in the smaller fat streaks that run through the meat. For a leaner option you can also use pork loin or tenderloin, but keep in mind that leaner cuts are not as juicy and flavourful.
- In a mortar and pestle, pound peppercorns until fine. Add one-third of the garlic and chopped cilantro stems and pound into a fine paste.
- Add herb paste, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar to the pork and mix well (it's faster to massage everything in by hand, but wear gloves or your hands will smell like garlic for a long time!). Let sit for 20 mins minimum, and up to one day.
Meanwhile, make fried garlic.
- Chop the remaining garlic as evenly as you can.
- Add about ½-inch of frying oil to a small pot or wok you’re using to fry the pork. Turn heat on to high then right away add garlic. Once garlic starts bubbling, turn heat down to low and fry, stirring frequently, until garlic is light golden. Do not let it brown or it will be bitter.
- Once done, use a fine mesh skimmer to remove ALL the garlic from oil. Alternatively you can pour it through a strainer and return oil back to pot. Don't let garlic bits remain in the oil or it will burn when you fry the pork.
To fry the pork:
- Add cornstarch to pork and mix well. It will look wet and pasty.
- Add more oil to the pot so it's now about 1.5 inch deep and heat to 375°F (190°C) over medium high heat.
- Fry the pork in batches so as to not crowd the pot. Once you drop the pork immediately pull the pieces apart so they are not stuck together. Fry for about 45 seconds to 1 minute only, just until the exterior has browned slightly. Remove with a slotted skimmer and drain on paper towel.
- To serve, sprinkle fried garlic over pork and top with cilantro leaves if desired
- Serve with jasmine rice or sticky rice, and a cold drink!