Don’t be alarmed by the quantity of garlic. In this Thai dish the garlic is initially cooked in plenty of oil with chilli and this seems to be the crucial step. By some miraculous means the flavour and aroma is fully absorbed into the pork, you’ll hardly notice it is there.
I’ve based the dish on a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey and given it a Vietnamese twist. The ingredients are few but they add up to a very flavoursome whole. Her version was more beans than pork, but my freshly picked beans being in slightly short (and revered) supply, I ended up with pretty much equal weight pork to beans.
In Thailand pork and beans would be eaten with rice, and it is particularly delicious with sticky rice, but I fancied the idea of tasty pork in a crunchy lettuce cup. It makes a light and enlivening appetiser or luncheon dish.
500g minced pork
400g green beans, cut into short lengths
14 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
2-3 large, hot, fresh chillies, sliced crosswise
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 tsp paprika (not smoked)
2 tsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce – Squid Brand or Megachef
one-quarter cup water
cos or iceberg lettuce leaves
Heat the oil in a wok. Add the garlic and chilli and stir fry over moderate heat until the garlic is just turning golden. Add the pork and stir fry, breaking up any lumps. Cook until the pork no longer looks raw. Turn up the heat; add the beans, paprika, brown sugar, fish sauce and a little water. Simmer for a few minutes and then check for seasoning. You may want to add more of the paprika, sugar and fish sauce. The mixture should be very tasty.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes or until the beans are cooked and nearly all the liquid evaporated.
To serve: Spoon into the lettuce leaves and serve immediately.