Ok, kids…Ready for some of the most intriguing and delicious Thai food you’ve ever tried? This is one of those recipes where you completely control that delicate balance of hot/sour/salty/sweet for which Thai food is so well known. And as an added serendipitous surprise, the recipe (called Ma Hor) is named after your mom! How could you NOT try it?
This recipe is modified (via Australian Gourmet Traveller--best cooking magazine in the world, IMHO) from David Thompson’s book, Thai Food (or Thai Cookery if you couldn’t wait to order the book when it was released in the US, and ordered it from Australia. It’s the same book either way). If you like Thai cuisine, both his Thai Food book and his Thai Street Food tome are the authoritative books on the subject. Supplement it with Chef McDang’s Principles of Thai Cookery and you’ve got the wide spectrum covered at a high level.
Ok, it can be a bitch to find quail if you don’t have an Asian grocery. Seattleites, I found it frozen at Uwajimaya for about 8 bucks for 4 semi-boneless quails. Yes, it’s a little bit of work to remove the meat from their tiny little bodies, but this dish is seriously worth the effort. If you can’t find quail or you’re a lazyass, you can substitute chicken thigh meat for the poultry in this recipe. If you’re going to do that because you’re a lazyass, you can also substitute a cup of Mrs. Butterworth’s mixed with a can of tuna for the fish sauce caramel, and a 7-11 package of corn nuts for the fried peanuts and shallots. And then you can fuck off. How dare you shortcut your mother's namesake dish?!?!?
Not kidding, this recipe was our hit of the summer. I’ve made it as an appetizer a few times and it instantly disappears from the serving plate every time. You can make the meat and caramel mixture (up through step 3 below) ahead of time and reheat it once you want to serve it on the pineapple slices. Just be sure to add the last half of the fried items and garnishes at the end (step 4) so they don’t get soggy. It’s how your mom would want it.
Ma hor (Galloping horses)
Cooking Time Prep time 40 mins, cook 20 mins (plus cooling)
2 tbsp peanut oil
150 gm each coarsely minced pork and minced quail (see note)
150 gm peeled medium uncooked prawns, coarsely chopped
165 gm crushed light palm sugar
125 ml (½ cup) fish sauce
80 gm each fried shallots and fried garlic (see note)
50 gm roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely crushed
1 pineapple, quartered, core removed, thinly sliced
To serve: julienned long red chilli, kaffir lime leaf and coriander leaves
Coriander and garlic paste
8 coriander roots, scrubbed
8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
½ tsp white peppercorns
2 tbsp peanut oil
- Heat one-third of oil on the flat plate of a barbecue, cook pork until cooked through (2-3 minutes), season to taste, remove, drain on absorbent paper, set aside to cool. Repeat with quail and prawns, cooking separately.
- For coriander and garlic paste, pound coriander, garlic and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle to a fine paste. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat, add paste and fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes).
- Add palm sugar and fish sauce to coriander and garlic paste, simmer until slightly thickened (4-5 minutes). Add pork, quail and prawns and stir until reduced (3-4 minutes). Stir through half of each of the fried shallots, fried garlic and peanuts and set aside to cool slightly.
- Top pineapple slices with pork mixture, scatter with julienned chilli, lime leaf and coriander and serve with remaining fried shallots, fried garlic and peanuts.
Note You will need to order minced quail from your butcher. If it's unavailable, you can mince it yourself, or substitute coarsely minced chicken thigh. Fried shallots and fried garlic are available from Asian grocers.