Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Spicy Pork (aka Nom Prik Oong)

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter Chardonnay called me up to ask what was for supper. I hadn't made any plans, and she asked if she could pick up some ground pork. I smiled at the request, knowing that she wanted "Spicy Pork." I told her to pick some up at the supermarket and she could make the dish for dinner. Later on, I called her back to make sure we had plenty of "Sticky Rice" for the dish, and we did.

I first had this dish at a lovely restaurant called Southeast Asian Restaurant in Lowell, MA, right next to the National Park. This place was run by Joe and Chanthip Antonaccio, until the summer of 2007, when it was purchased by somebody else who has promised to use the same recipes. I've been there once since the change of ownership, and things still seem to be very good there.

For lunch, Southeast Asian Restaurants has a (very) spicy version of this disk on their buffet, and for dinner, you can order it from the menu. (We always do!)

I've never found a recipe for this on the web, and the description from the menu is quite simple: "Ground pork, tomato, chili peppers, scallions (Very Hot)."

I have a recipe book called "The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam" by Bach Ngo and Gloria Zimmerman, and in it is a recipe for pork chops with classic Vietnamese seasonings and tomato paste. I substituted ground pork for the pork chops and adjusted the seasonings a bit until I had something that approximated the dish from the restaurant.

When I first joined Cisco Systems, Inc., human resources were requesting recipes from employees, and I submitted this recipe from memory (after doing a bit of a Google search for some product names). The following is my re-adaptation of the recipe I submitted to Cisco.

Spicy Pork

Yield:Serves 4
Original Recipe adapted from a Burmese dish called "Nom Prik Oong."


1 ½ pounds ground pork

1 Tbs Asian chili flakes

1 Tbs Asian chili sauce ("Sriracha" Hot Chili Sauce is recommended... get it at Asian markets)

⅓ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup fish sauce (Nuoc Cham)

1 cup water

2 Tbs sugar

1 six oz. can Tomato Paste

1 egg (optional)

⅜ cup Thai Basil, sliced (optional)

½ bunch scallions (green onions), sliced

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaf)


3 cups Sticky Rice (also known as Sweet Rice or Glutenous Rice)

3 cups hot water

Brown ground pork in a 5 quart Dutch Oven over medium-high heat, crumbling it as it cooks. Add chili flakes as the pork cooks and stir well.

In another 4-quart pot, combine 3 cups hot water and sticky rice. Bring to a boil, and then let it boil for exactly one minute. After one minute, add cover to pot, and dump the water OUT of the pot, using the lid to keep the rice in the pot. Set heat to very low, and allow the rice to simmer for 25 minutes.

When meat is completely cooked, add chili sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, water, and sugar, and stir until it boils. Add tomato paste and stir to thicken. If desired, drop egg in middle, and let it sit there for about four minutes to cook. Once cooked, stir the egg throughout the sauce... it will thicken the sauce some more. Taste sauce and correct seasoning as necessary (usually sugar may be needed, but if it's too sweet, add more soy sauce). Once the seasoning is perfect, add basil (optional), scallions and cilantro and continue to let the sauce simmer as the rice finishes.

Note that the sauce does not have to have too much liquid. in Laos, dishes are prepared with less liquids to accommodate the use of sticky rice!

When the rice is finished simmering (it will be quite sticky!), serve.

If doing individual servings, put the rice in a small bowl and the sauce in another bowl. Alternatively, put the sauce into a big bowl in the center of the dinner table and serve sticky rice in individual small bowls.

In Laos, sickly rice is traditionally eaten separate from the sauce. It is eaten with the hands, and can be dipped into the sauce, or you can press a small portion of the rice into a patty with your hands, and clutching the patty in your fingers, pick up the meat and sauce with the rice.

If you find this sounds a bit messy, it is perfectly acceptable to simply serve the sauce over the rice and eat with a fork (or chopsticks). However, it won't be the traditional Laotian way of eating this sort of meal. When you are feeling a bit more adventurous, try it the traditional way. It's especially fun for younger kids!

After preparing this meal the first time, feel free to experiment. Find the amount of chili flakes and sauce that tastes perfect to you and your family. The measurements were made one time when I was teaching my children how to cook this dish; generally, I just eyeball everything and it usually comes out perfectly.

Bon Appetit!

No comments: