Thai Cilantro-Garlic Pork (or chicken…!)

What a great Thai Stirfries demo cooking class last evening.  It was a really fun group of people who came out with good questions, great energy and lots of interest; some returning students from previous classes and lots of new ones, plus the winners of the Breakfast Television ticket contest.  Someone even live tweeted the class which explained the many alerts my phone sounded all evening.

We enjoyed 4 Thai stirfry dishes together, plus a bonus recipe, Thai Cilantro-Garlic Pork (recipe below).  This is a spicy dish with lots of garlic and cilantro that I made at the Edmonton Home and Garden Show last year, the cooking stage hosted by the terrific Liane Faulder, food writer for the Edmonton Journal.  She asked great questions and her passion for local food and fresh flavours makes her an ideal champion of our local food community.

Thai Cilantro-Garlic Pork is a favourite of clients, who ask for it time and again.  It works best with lean ground pork, but is also delicious with ground chicken or turkey.   Add as many chilis as you like – the adventurous group last evening let me put in eight!

Thai Cilantro-Garlic Pork is best enjoyed as part of a balanced meal, in lettuce wraps and with rice and a vegetable stirfry.   Enjoy!


Thai Cilantro-Garlic Pork

Serves 4 to 6 as part of a Thai meal

500 gr lean ground pork (or ground turkey or chicken thigh or breast)
10 to 15 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 6 small red Thai chili peppers, sliced (less or more to taste)
30 ml Thai fish sauce, or to taste
15 ml palm sugar (about 1/4 disk) or brown sugar
1 bunch of cilantro, minced
water as needed to keep it somewhat saucy
60 ml chopped roasted and unsalted peanuts

  1. Heat a medium fry pan over medium heat until it’s very hot – add the meat.  It will stick to the pan initially – and that’s a good thing!  Stir it occasionally to break up the meat, but we do want the meat to stick a bit.  Not burn, but a beautiful brown is good.
  2. When the meat is nicely browned, add the garlic and chilis, allowing the to cook until fragrant and the garlic begins to brown.
  3. Add the fish sauce – and step back a bit as there will be a rush of steam (you don’t want to burn yourself).  Also add the palm sugar and just a bit of water to get it a bit saucy but not too much.
  4. Let this cook another couple of minutes until the meat is fully cooked, adding water only as necessary to keep it slightly wet.
  5. When the meat is fully cooked, add the peanuts and cilantro and cook another minute until the herb is wilted and flavours are combined.  Serve hot with a vegetable stirfry and rice.

Make-ahead notes:

This recipe is very forgiving and can be made first, and sit on the stove while you make the vegetable stirfry.  To do so:

  1. Follow the recipe instructions as above to step 4.
  2. Add about 1/2 of the cilantro and a bit of water, turning the heat to medium-low.  This can simmer 20, 40 even 60 minutes, just keep adding a bit of water along the way if it becomes too dry.
  3. Right before you’re ready to serve, add the peanuts and remaining cilantro, stirring a minute and voila!