Sunday, April 03, 2011

Cooking The Books - David Thompson's Thai Street Food + Sweet Pork Recipe

In the continuing Cooking The Books (CTB) meetups, we decided to try out David Thompson's Thai Street Food as the photos are totally drool worthy and everyone loves Thai food. Upon first looking at the book, I thought the recipes sounded really easy, until you carefully study all the ingredients and methods. There's many unknown ingredients to me and David's recipe makes everything from scratch. My first choice turned out to need 5 days of curing, which I didn't see until I looked at the recipe two nights before. I chose another recipe that was simpler and also dropped any plans to make desserts.

You can read about previous Cooking The Books meetups here
Cooking The Books - Jamie's America
Cooking The Books - Bill Granger's Holiday

For this particular meetup, the following bloggers were in attendance. This time, Cherrie generously offered to let us use her amazing house as the venue. Her home is truly beautiful and the kitchen was nice and spacious, with plenty of natural light which we all "oooohhhed" about and instantly thought of the great photos we could shoot.
Kat (the one with no life and a baby)

For my contribution, I finally settled on the Sweet Pork recipe. It turned out to be very easy but a little time consuming. I'm not sure the timings in the book are correct but the final result was delicious. Sweet unctuous pork with a very sticky glaze.

Cherrie made this delicious Madtarbark, making the pastry and filling all from scratch. The lovely and fresh salad that went with it was fiery and paired perfectly. From the savoury foods, this was my favourite dish of the day. Kat (with no baby) made two extremely colourful and fresh dishes, Green Papaya Salad and Pad Thai. Look how beautifully adorned each dish is with the chilli flowers. These dishes had a nice simple freshness.

Agnes made a Chicken Curry Noodle, which was good but tasted more Chinese than Thai to me. In fact, most of the dishes that we all chose tasted more Chinese. We all agreed that probably because they were the simpler dishes that didn't require ingredients we didn't know about or techniques we were not used to. Kat (with baby) made Grilled Pork Skewers, always a favourite for everyone. Michele made good use of her Costco wonton reuseable tubs and served her own version of Wonton and BBQ Pork Soup. Again it was good, but something I'm very used to and very Chinese I thought.

April made enough Braised Pork Hock to feed a nation. It was that lovely soft texture that you want and the soup was quite strong. April wasn't going to peel all the good tendons off the bones but luckily Laik insisted and peeled them into the soup, delicious. Although not in the book, how could we have a meetup without dessert right? That's a rhetorical question. Michele generously made the Orange Chiffon Cake with Hazelnuts and Chocolate from Poh's Kitchen. I've made this cake before and find the cake is more delicious minus the chocolate and hazelnuts. Those flavours tend to overpower the orange and I'm not a big fan of jaffa. Cherrie made a Filipino Chiffon Cupcake, with cheese. Yep, cheese. It works, trust me. You can find the recipe here. Go try it for yourself, sounds weird but so so delicious. I'll be making these soon.

Finally, look at everyone taking photos, you gotta laugh. I'm laughing with them as I take just as many photos.

I think the recipes we tried from the book were good, but not outstanding. The recipes all seemed more Chinese, but like I keep saying, we chose the easier stuff. The other items seem quite complicated, but I shall attempt them slowly. It was another fun meetup and thanks to everyone for bringing some great food and company and especially to Cherrie for offering up her house for us to stomp around in.

Sweet Pork
Each portion serves 1 person when eaten with rice

100g pork belly
3 tbsp shaved palm sugar
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 point star anise - optional
2 red shallots, slice and deep fried - optional

1) Blanche pork in simmering water until cooked (10 to 15 mins). Let it cool. Chop into 1cm slices.

2) Melt sugar in small pan, add pork, fish sauce and star anise. I decided to use the star anise to add more flavour. Simmer very, very gently, covered until pork is dark golden but still tender. This can take half an hour or longer. It took about an hour for my 400g serve. Do not let sugar boil as it could burn and toughen the meat.

3) If sugar begins to caramelise or pork is not covered by the liquid, add a tbsp of water. Once pork is ready, stir in the deep-fried shallots. I just used pre-made deep fried shallots.


  1. What a fun partay!! The belly is my favourite cut of pork and caramelised like this with fragrant spices is one of the best ways to have it. Looks extremely simple to make, too! Yum!

  2. I'll give you your copy of the book on Thursday.

    Was a fun get together still. I've started watching Jamie's America again, looking forward to when they make the meatballs ;)

  3. Lots of food! Sounds like lots of fun too!

  4. It was a great feast, ahh you are a harsh critic sometimes..the food we had was and is much better than some of the Thai places I've eaten in..loved your pork dish.
    haha I like how you distinguish us two Kats

  5. Martyna, the CTBs meetups are always massive fun. The belly is my favourite cut too, and this dish is so easy I will make it again.

    Michelle, thanks look forward to flicking through the beautiful photos.

    I look forward to trying out the meatballs, so delicious.

    Michelle, definitely lots of food and fun.

    Kat, I wasn't that harsh. Just saying it wasn't the usual zingy Thai food I'm used to. We all cooked our dishes well, just the recipes weren't that spectacular, but definitely better than many dodgy Thai restaurants.

    Haha, I should have put Kat (the intelligent and beautiful one without baby) and Kat (the intelligent and beautiful one with baby).

  6. Feast... going to miss the next one. See you guys in May!

  7. It was fun - what a shame we didn't have a bucket load of leftovers, though! Shouldn't be a problem with the next one. :p

  8. I have still yet to cook anything from this book as all the recipes seem very complex, although I am sure if I took a few shortcuts I could make a few. All the food looks great!

  9. Penny, hopefully you can come to a feast soon.

    Agnes, twas fun. We must make way more food next time for leftovers. Felt so deflated when there were no leftovers to take home afterwards.

    Susan, the recipes do seem quite complex. I just got the book so will attempt some soon, but I think I'll be taking shortcuts as well.

  10. Wow! Your Sweet Pork would surely make me consume bowls of rice. For sure! :)