Note: Another good recipe from our regional Thai food issue--and another from Nancie McDermott's cookbook, "Real Thai." The dish's flavoring paste, or "pesto," of garlic, cilantro root and peppercorns--without the latecomer chile--gives it away as a survivor from the old central Thai palace cuisine.
1 teaspoon oil
3 tablespoons Cilantro Pesto
1/2 pound coarsely ground pork
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons finely chopped dry roasted peanuts
1 small to medium pineapple
2 fresh red chee fah chiles, cut into long, thin strips, or 6 long, thin sweet red pepper strips
1 bunch small cilantro leaves
Heat wok or medium skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat surface. When oil is hot, add Cilantro Pesto. Stir-fry paste until quite fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and crumble in ground pork. Stir-fry pork until it breaks into small lumps, renders some fat and is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.
Add fish sauce and palm sugar and continue cooking, stirring and scraping often to brown and coat meat evenly. After about 4 minutes, when meat is browned, remove pan from heat and taste sauce for salty-sweet balance. Add more fish sauce and palm sugar if needed and return to heat to reduce. Remove from heat, transfer to medium bowl and let cool to room temperature. Peel pineapple and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Remove hard core from center of each slice and cut slices into 1-inch squares. There should be about 2 cups of squares.
To serve, mound spoonful of savory pork onto each pineapple square. Garnish each mound with chile strips and cilantro leaves. Transfer to platter and serve at room temperature as finger food. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Each of 10 servings contains about:106 calories; 150 mg sodium; 12 mg cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.82 gram fiber.
1 teaspoon whole white or black peppercorns
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro roots or leaves and stems
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
In mortar, small blender or food processor, combine pepper, cilantro roots and garlic and work into fairly smooth paste. If using blender or food processor, adding some oil or water may ease grinding. Makes 1/4 cup.