This is our version of a dish that we ate and enjoyed when travelling in Vietnam. It’s not authentic but includes lots of the ingredients that are so characteristic of Vietnamese cookery, such as lemon grass. Fresh, fragrant and very tasty.
1 medium onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 long red chilli, halved and roughly chopped
25g chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
small bunch of fresh coriander, plus extra to garnish
1.5kg boneless rindless pork shoulder (buy thickly cut steaks if you like)
3 tbsp sunflower oil
4 tsp garam masala
4 tsp ground cumin
11⁄2 tsp turmeric
400ml can of coconut milk
400ml cold water
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 large sweet potato (about 400g)
juice of 1 lime
(21⁄2 tsp) flaked sea salt freshly ground black pepper
Trim the lemon grass at each end and remove the papery outer layers. Chop the lemon grass into thin slices – you need about 20g. Put the sliced lemon grass in a food processor and add the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander, then blitz to make a fine paste. You want to get the paste as fine as possible. You will need to remove the lid and push the mixture down 2–3 times with a rubber spatula until the right texture is reached. If you don’t have a food processor, bash all the ingredients together with a pestle and mortar until they form a paste.
Cut the pork into rough 3cm chunks and season with salt and ground black pepper. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the pork in 2–3 batches over a fairly high heat until nicely browned, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Transfer the pork to a large flameproof casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5.
Add the remaining oil, the paste, garam masala, cumin and turmeric to the frying pan. Fry over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells fragrant and is beginning to colour. Pour the coconut milk into the frying pan and stir well.
Tip the mixture over the browned pork in the casserole dish. Add the water, stir in the fish sauce, season with lots of black pepper and bring to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid and place in the centre of the oven to cook for 1 hour. Just before the hour is up, peel the sweet potato and cut it into rough 3cm chunks.
Take the curry out of the oven and remove the lid. Add the sweet potato, stir well and cover the surface with a crumpled sheet of baking parchment or greaseproof paper to prevent the sauce reducing too much. Return to the oven without a lid and cook for a further 45–60 minutes or until the pork is very tender and the sauce is fairly thick. Take the dish out of the oven and stir in the lime juice and a little more salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander and serve with rice.
Recipes taken from The Hairy Biker’s Great Curries, Si King and Dave Myers, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, £20 new book out on 28 February