David Thompson's pork skewers - Busy times
September 28th, 2010

Oh well. Can anybody tell me where June, July and August went? And September, too? As much as I like working on cookbooks, it is a process that tends to suck you in completely, with flesh and bones. Someday I don’t even realize what day we have, on others I forget about having breakfast until it’s time to start thinking about dinner. Crazy times.

No worries though, I’m not starving yet. Life saver: I get to retest a lot of recipes throughout the day, which is all part of my daily routine and work on our next book (a co-production with my friend Coco Lang), which is all about gifts from the kitchen. Having said that, these recipes oftentimes involve chocolate, vinegar or alcohol, in no particular order, and while very tasty nothing I would seriously consider a proper breakfast substitute.

What bugs me the most about my current status are the cookbooks that have been entering our apartment over the course of the last months. Countless press copies or spontaneous lunch-break purchases – yes, Amazon just makes it wayyyy too easy to maintain the cookbook influx, even in rough times like this – they are piling up in our living room and I just cannot keep up reading them. At odd times I may catch myself – equipped with sticky notes -  snagging one from the floor,  flipping through the pages, on the lookout for compelling recipes to be  quickly marked and that’s about it for now. These recipes will have to wait some more weeks.

Of course there is always an exception to the rule, in this case: the coffeetable-worthy “THAI STREET FOOD” by Asian food guru David Thompson. Breathtakingly beautifully photographed, I had been eyeing the grilled pork skewers for weeks until I – totally incidentally! – had leftover pandanus leaves and coriander roots and gave them a go. Just like I’m used to from his standard on Thai cuisine, his recipes work. Feel authentic. And taste oh so good! Seriously, how can you not fall in love with grilled pork skewers, that get introduced with the words “I am addicted to these.”?

The recipe steps are by David Thompson, my notes can be found in brackets.

Slice the pork into thinnish pieces about 2 cm (1 in) square. Cut the pork fat, if using, into small rectangles, say 2 cm x 5 mm (1 in 1/4 in).
[I cut my pork loin into thin stripes, similar like I'd do for chicken satay.]

Next make the marinade. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the coriander root, salt, garlic and pepper into a fine paste. Combine with the sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and oil. Marinate the pork and fat in this mixture for about 3 hours. The more cautious can refridgerate this but, if doing so, then it is best marinated overnight.
[Mine got marinated for only one hour since I ran out of time.]

It’s a good idea to soak the bamboo skewers in water for about 30 minutes. This prevents them from scorching and burning as the pork grills. Some cooks like to use a brush made out of pandanus leaves to baste the pork. To make a pandanus brush, fold each pandanus leaf in half then trim to make an even edge. Cut up into the trimmed ends four or five times to make the brush’s “bristles”. Tie the pandanus leaves together with string or an elastic band to make a brush. Of course a regular brush will do too.
[I soaked my bamboo skewers as instructed, yet the looked pretty black in the end. But it didn't affect the skewers' taste.]

Prepare the grill. Meanwhile, thread a piece of pork fat, if using, onto the skewer first followed by two or three pieces of the marinated pork. Repeat with each skewer. When the embers are glowing, in fact beginning to die, gently grill the skewers, turning quite often to prevent charring and promote even caramelisation and cooking. Dab them with the coconut cream as they grill. This should make the coals smoulder and impart a smoky taste. Grill all the skewers.
[Lacking grill weather we grilled ours in the oven on the top level (at least 220°C/ 425°F). Further I combined the rest of the marinade with some tablespoons coconut cream and basted the skewers generously everytime I turned them, because you really want the pork to soak up & caramelize as much as possible from the marinade.]

On the streets, they are simply reheated over the grill to warm them through before serving, although this is not entirely necessary as they are delicious warm or cool.
[We didn't get a chance to try them cold - they were just too good straight from the oven!]

The book was received as a press copy (by Ten Speed Press).

David Thompson's pork skewers

Recipe source: Thai Street Food, David Thompson, p. 112

Required time: ~30 minutes, plus marinating at least 1 hour

.

Ingredients (appetizer for 4):

300 g pork loin or neck

50 g pork back fat (optional)

1 tsp cleaned and chopped coriander roots

pinch of salt

1 tsp chopped garlic

1/2 tsp ground white pepper (I used black)

2 tbsp shaved palm sugar

dash of dark soy sauce

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil

12-15 bamboo skewers (I needed less)

3 pandanus leaves (optional)

1/4 cup coconut cream

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