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Pork & Water Spinach Soup
  -   Gang Tay Po
3 w/rice  
1-1/4 hr  

Pak Bung (Ong Choy) is very popular in Asian communities. It's illegal in many states but is widely available here in California. This popular recipe is traditional and allows little variation, but we've had to make one substitution. The finished soup reheats very well.

Pork (1)
Pak Bung (2)
Coconut Milk
Red Curry Paste (3)
Fish Sauce (4)
Palm Sugar (5)
Lime Juice (6)
Kaffir Lime Leaf (7)
  1. Cut PORK into 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. If your PAK BUNG is very fresh you can just break off any stems larger than 1/4 inch and cut the whole bunch to 1 inch lengths. If not, you'll have to pick through it stem by stem, discarding large stems and wilted or damaged leaves.
  3. Open Coconut Milk without shaking the can. Spoon 3 ounces off the top into a 2 quart sauce pan, taking all the thick milk. Stir in the Curry Paste. Simmer slowly, stirring constantly, until the red oil starts to separate.
  4. Stir in Pork until well coated with the curry, then stir in Pak Bung, the other 5 oz Coconut Milk and the Water. Bring to a boil and stir in the Fish Sauce and Sugar.
  5. Squeeze LIME JUICE. Crumple LIME LEAVES to release their flavor. Add both to the soup.
  6. Simmer slowly for 20 to 45 minutes (longer the better).
  7. Check balance and adjust if needed. Of the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice, none should dominate. Add more of any one that seems lacking.
  8. Serve hot with plenty of steamed Jasmine rice. This dish is always served with rice - you might want to pour soup in a bowl and then add a liberal scoop of rice.
  1. Pork:   Traditionally this is made from pork belly, but in these sedentary times you may want to use lean pork. I have specified about twice as much pork as in the pattern recipe - see Western Adoption of Asian Food.
  2. Water Spinach:   It's legal in California but contraband in some other states. In Thailand they use a stemmier short leaf variety, but the California Department of Agriculture frowns on that one - it has to be grown in water so could escape into the waterways and irrigation systems. For details see our Water Spinach page.
  3. Red Curry Paste:   This is one of the most popular of the Thai curry pastes. It is sold commercially, but is better made at home. For recipe see our Red Curry Paste.
  4. Fish Sauce:   This clear liquid is as essential to Southeast Asian cuisine as it was to Imperial Rome. For details see our Fish Sauce - Introduction page.
  5. Palm Sugar:   If you don't have this use turbinado or a similar lightly refined sugar.
  6. Lime:   In Thailand this would be Kaffir Limes, but those are very hard to find in North America unless you have your own tree (mine is setting a good crop again this year), so you'll probably need to use a regular Persian lime. Some recipes say to drop the rind in after squeezing. That probably works better with Kaffir limes, Persian rinds make the soup a bit bitter. Kaffir limes are rather dry, so you'd probably need juice from a couple of them.
  7. Kaffir Lime Leaves:   These come 2 to a stem. See our Kaffir Lime page for details. If you don't have them, grate the zest of the limes before you squeeze them for lime juice.
  8. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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