Khua kling is one of the most well known southern Thai food dishes. It’s a dry curry, almost like a minced meat sausage. Though I’ll be using pork for this recipe, you can really make it with whatever type of meat you’d like. The meat is stir fried with southern Thai curry paste, and finely sliced lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. If you love spicy meat, you’ll love Thai khua kling.
- 500 g. minced pork, beef, or chicken (I used minced meat, but small slices of meat are common too)
- 3 tbsp. southern Thai curry paste
- 50 g. lemongrass (this was 2 stalks when I made this recipe)
- 1 red spur chili (this is not completely necessary, but if you add one, it will make your curry look really nice)
- 10 – 15 kaffir lime leaves (I probably used about ¾ of them while cooking, and used the other ¼ to sprinkle on top at the end)
- pinch of sugar (depending on how much you like and how much you want to )
- Thai bird chilies (I like to slice up some red Thai bird chilies to sprinkle on top of my plate, just for the final spicy touch and for extra red color)
- The first step is to take your lemongrass, slice off the bottoms of the stalks, tear off two or three of the tough outer layers, and then finely shave it. The finer you shave the lemongrass, the more flavor it will add, and the the easier it will be to chew.
- To prepare the kaffir lime leaves, you want to grab about five or six leaves, which come as a pair, then I like to fold them over, so you’ve got a nice layered sandwich of kaffir lime leaves. Slice off any of the big stems if there are any, and then finely slice them into thin strips.
- I included the spur chili in this recipe mostly to give the khua kling a beautiful red accent color, but it’s not what gives the dish its spice – that comes from the curry paste. For the spur chili, just cut off the stem, slice the chili in half, and then slice it into thin diagonal strips. Set all those ingredients aside, and we’ll come back to them later.
- Turn on your stove to a medium high heat, heat up your wok or pan for a few seconds, and then add about 3 tbsp. of southern Thai curry paste (it may be kind of dry, but since this is a dry curry, you don’t want to add any oil).
- One of the tricks my wife taught me, so the curry paste doesn’t burn, is to quickly add in just 1 spoon of meat into the curry paste and start to stir fry it. This will give the curry paste a little extra moisture, but it will still get that direct heat that you want, so the curry paste reaches its maximum flavor potential.
- Fry the curry paste for 2 – 3 minutes, and then add in the rest of the meat. Your pan should be quite hot, and due to the dryness, it might start to stick to the bottom. So you want to really work the wok hard by scraping and getting all that good flavor off the bottom of the pan.
- Stir fry the meat until it’s broken into small minced pieces, and almost all the way cooked through, then toss in just a pinch of sugar, depending on how much you like (I used about ½ teaspoon, but I know some Thai cooks would use a whole spoon in their recipe).
- Give it a quick stir, then add the lemongrass.
- Quickly stir it, then toss in about ¾ of your shaved kaffir lime leaves. Stir fry for about 1 minute.
- Just a few seconds before turning off your heat, add the sliced red spur chili, stir fry for a few more seconds, and turn off your heat, but keep frying for another minute or so.
- Grab a bowl, and dish out your khua kling.
- The final step is to take the remaining portion of your finely shaved kaffir lime leaves (of you can slice more if you used them all), along with a handful of sliced Thai bird chilies, and sprinkle them on top of your plate of khua kling.