27 February 2016

B-Kyu Cooks ~ Khao Ka Moo ~ Thai stewed pork leg

Long slow cooking and a cheap cut of meat is a magic mix. This recipe for the Thai street food favourite Khao Ka Moo makes the most of stewed pork hock, soy, eggs and spices and the result is a little bit magic.
Khao Ka Moo (or khao kaa mu) is one of our favourite Thai street food dishes. We have to force ourselves not to order it and to try something different whenever we see it, but the mix of meat, pickled veg and eggs is hard to beat. Where we have seen it in Sydney it is usually made with pork belly, but we prefer a stewed up pork hock or leg for better meat and flavour, like we've seen the Thais make it. The dish is Chinese in influence, given away by the use of star anise and cinnamon and sometimes five-spice powder is used.

Pork hocks can be a little hard to come by at your big supermarket, but if you are close to a good Vietnamese run butchery they should be easier to find, as the selection of pork and the quality is excellent and well priced. We paid about $3.99 a kilo for a whole hock, and one hock is usually one kilo in weight or a little over. One meaty hock should just do about four people, especially when served with all the fixin's. You may choose to make this with other pork meats but choose something that can cook long and slow, preferably with bones. The skin and bones add most of the flavour. You don't have to eat the skin, but we suggest you do, it's delicious.

When you've finished eating, don't throw out the stock. This can be strained and reused similar to a Chinese master stock. We freeze ours and have used it multiple times, just adding a few fresh aromatics to boost it up and make it even richer.

What you will need:

About four hours of your time.
A Sek Loso CD.

For the stewed pork:
1 pork fresh hock, shank or knuckle, about 1 kilo or more. Make sure it is a fresh hock, not smoked or pickled. Keep it whole, bone in and skin on.
3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1 litre of water or enough to cover the leg in the pot
4 fresh coriander roots and 5cm of the stems, chopped (use coriander powder if that's all you have but the fresh flavour won't be the same)
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon of white peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (if you want to add some kick) or 1 teaspoon of five spice powder

1 large cinnamon sticks, or cassia bark can also be used
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce or fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt (depending on how salty you want it)
2-4 tablespoons palm sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)

Optional or extra:
4 dried shitake mushrooms
Cubes of puffed fried tofu

To serve:
4-5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled. One per person is a good guide.
Pickled mustard greens
Fresh bok choy or gai lan or green vegetables of choice cut into serving pieces
Chilli vinegar sauce or chopped chillis and garlic in vinegar, it cuts the fattiness of the pork.

How to make:

Rinse the hock in cold water and then pat dry. Soak mushrooms for half an hour (if using).

Choose a large pan that will hold the hock and allow it to be covered with the cooking water. Heat the oil in the pan, add the hock and brown the skin on both sides. (Some recipes omit this, instead blanching the pork beforehand. We like the extra flavour the frying gives.)

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the coriander, garlic, white peppercorns and Sichuan/five spice until you get a rough paste. Throw this in the pot for a brief minute, stir and allow the oil to soak up the flavours.

Fill the pot with water, until the hock is nearly covered. Add the cinnamon and star anise, the black and light soy and other seasoning sauce you choose, mushrooms (if using) and palm sugar and salt to taste. Don't forget this stock will reduce so the flavours will intensify.

Raise the heat slightly to bring the pan to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for 2 to 3 hours with the lid on until the meat is tender.

Meanwhile, put on the Sek Loso CD and air guitar for a few hours.

After you have finished jumping around the living room and if you are close to serving, get all the fixings ready.

Add the peeled boiled eggs about an hour or so into the cooking. Don't worry about the timing too much, you just want them to absorb some of the stock colour and flavour. Throw in the tofu puffs (if using) right near the end.

Rinse the pickled mustard greens lightly and slice thinly. Steam the green vegetables and set aside. Cook rice using preferred method (rice cooker or stove top).

Once the pork has cooked let it cool down in the pot until it is just warm and serve at this heat. Remove the pork and shred the meat and skin. Place the pork on the rice and ladle some of the cooking liquid over it. Make sure you shred a little of the skin, it will be tender and really fatty but oh so good.

Place the green vegetables, pickled mustard greens and halved boiled eggs around the pork and a small dish of vinegar chilli sauce or chopped chilli and garlic in vinegar.  Eat this preferably on melamine plates, with a fork and spoon and in a sweltering outdoor marketplace.

Leave a comment if you have any other ideas or favourite ways to make this dish, especially tips on how grandma made it.


  1. Looks good....I eat this dish all the time at Do Dee Noodle above the Bondi Junction Interchange. Best $10 meal around .

  2. Omg that looks sooooo good! I've bookmarked this recipe!



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