Thailand. The land of smiles. A place where subtle beauty hides around every corner.
We spent two weeks exploring Thailand, getting a small taste of the country from the back of a buzzing, straining moped. A hectic few days in Bangkok, north to the cultural capital, temples and markets of Chiang Mai, then finally south to Phuket for a little, sun, blue seas, long tail boats and island hopping.
It is a country of colours; temples with gilded golden roofs, pointed tips rising upwards towards blue skies; orange robes of monks strung up drying over bamboo poles; brightly coloured gauze ribbons tied around the trunk of ancient trees, pink, blue, red, yellow, green; garlands of Jasmine flowers strung from the hands of buddha statues and swinging from the rear view mirrors of revving tuk tuks; pink petals floating in a bowl of crystal water.
The food, wherever we went, was delicious. Bowls of steaming curries, red, green, yellow. Fragrant and inviting, coloured with chilli and thai aubergine. Women wheeling trolleys set with a gas burner and wok, piles of noodles, bean sprouts and shredded chicken. Oil is heated until steaming, an egg is cracked in and a plate of pad thai is stirred together in minutes, eaten road side off a polystyrene tray. Plastic pots of dried chilli, chilli sauce, chilli paste and dried shrimp are waiting to spoon on top. In the markets huge spiral chains of meat balls sizzle over hot coals. Soft sweets are eaten off green leaves.
One of my favourite Thai recipes is also one of the easiest to make. This pork dish uses chilli and basil, and creates something wonderful. I ate this every other day while we were in Thailand. Usually as a lunch dish, off an orange plastic plate, with a little mountain of rice. Everywhere we ate it, from the nicest hotel restaurants, to family run roadside restaurants in the middle of nowhere, it was delicious. The flavours themselves are just so wonderful it can’t go wrong.If you can get hold of it, the recipe should use holy basil, but if you can’t get it, regular sweet basil is fine too. One last thing, don’t be afraid of the fish sauce. It won’t make your pork taste fishy at all. Promise.
Thai Basil Pork
1 tbsp oil
250g Minced Pork
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-3 red chillis, finely chopped
1 1/2tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 generous handfuls basil
Heat the oil in a large pan or wok.
Add the garlic and chilli and cook until soften and fragrent.
Add the pork and stir fry until it is just cooked through.
If it is very dry at this point, you may want to add a little water. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Stir through.
Finally, stir in the basil and cook for a further minute.
Serve over white rice.