7-10 small dried red chilies
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 piece of fermented soybean sauce cake (Tua'Naw"), lightly toasted, or
1/2 teaspoon of shrimp paste
2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon of vetable oil
1/4 pound of coarsely chopped pork
20 cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise into eights
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
2 small cucumbers, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into thick ovals
7 green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 wedges of green cabbage (about 2 inches wide at widest point)
Some crisp-fried pork skins
Prepare rice, allowing at least 4 hours for soaking and cooking.
Meanwhile, stem the chilies and shake out and discard most of the
seeds. Cut the chilies into small pieces and soak the pieces in warm water
to cover for 20 minutes. Drain the chilies and transfer to a large, heavy
mortar. Add the salt and pound and grind with a pestle until the chillies
are broken down, about 3 minutes. Crumble the soybean cake into the mortar,
then add shallot and garlic. Pound to work the mixture into a paste, about
5 minutes. Pound more judiciously now, keeping the mortar well in front
of you to avoid nasty splashes of chili goo, and using a spoon to scrape
the ingredients together now and then. When you have a coarse, rust-colored
puree, set it aside.
Heat a work or deep, heavy medium skillet over low heat for 1
minute. Add the oil and swirl to coat the surface. Warm the oil for 1 minute.
Add the chili paste and cook for 3 minutes, scraping and turning now and
then, until it is fragrant and the color darkens a little.
Increase the heat to medium and crumble in the pork. Add the tomatoes,
toss a few times, and simmer until the tomatoes wilt and the sauce reddens and
thickens, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce and sugar and simmer another
2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning for a pleasing balance of salty, hot,
sour, and sweet. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool.
To serve, transfer the sauce to a small bowl and place it
on a platter along with the cucumbers, green beans, cabbage wedges,
and pork skins. Serve warm or at room temperature with the rice.
Note: You can grind the chili paste in a small blender or food processor.
Combine the chilies, salt, shallots, garlic, and, and soybean cake and
grind until fairly smooth, adding a little water as needed.
For a simple version, sustitute 1 tablespoon prepared red curry
paste for the chilies, salt, shallot, garlic, and soybean cake. And, yes,
you can omit the pork skins.