Citizens, one of the oldest and most classically Thai recipes is Muu Tod Gratiam Phrig Thai หมูทอดกระเทียมพริกไทย (Pork with Garlic and Pepper).
Most people forget that chili peppers are not native to Asia (they’re native to the Americas, actually!) and were brought to the region by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 17th century or so.
Prior to this, heat in Thai (and other Asian) recipes was provided by the native peppercorns – usually white peppercorns. Today, few recipes eschew chili peppers for peppercorns, but this recipe is still made the old way!
A favorite lunch (or hangover) dish in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand, I’ve modified the original recipe by using a combination of white, black and jarred (or fresh) green peppercorns for added flavor complexity. Feel free to use all white if you so prefer. You should absolutely serve this with a fried egg, rice and Thai pickled cucumber, if possible!
As to garlic, well, the Thais love it! As noted on specialtyproduce.com:
Thai garlic, botanically classified as Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon, is a hardneck, turban garlic. There are a handful of different varieties of Thai garlic with Purple Thai and Fire Thai being the most well-known. Thai garlic is favored for its rich flavor and heat, but it is a rare organic cultivar that has to compete with the garlic varieties being produced in neighboring China.
With many of the conventional varieties from China being inexpensive, readily available, prolific growers, and the fact that China has an infrastructure for exportation, the influx of Chinese garlic in the Thai marketplace has created extreme difficulty for those that rely on growing it to support their families.
Thai garlic can be used in both raw and cooked applications that showcase the bold heat and depth of the garlic. Its robust flavor is at its most pungent and hot when the garlic is smashed, minced, or pressed. When utilized raw use sparingly not to overpower the other food you are highlighting. Cooking will mellow the bite of Thai garlic slightly.
Roasting or sautéing are the ideal cooking methods for this garlic. Sadao Nampla Wan is a favorite Thai dipping sauce using roasted Thai garlic chips and sadao, or neen flower. Thai garlic also works well sautéed in stir-fries, chicken, and pork dishes. Consider pairing Thai garlic with bold and spicy flavors as well as rich ingredients that can work in harmony with its intense flavors. Chiles, ginger, citrus, cream, starches, soy sauce, toasted nuts, tomatoes, eggplant, grilled and roasted meats and shellfish are all favorable pairings for Thai garlic. Thai garlic will keep up to four months when stored in a cool and dry place.
Thai garlic plays an important role in traditional Thai cuisine, but every year at the annual Vegetarian Festival or Chinese Vegan Festival in Thailand the crowds abstain from consuming garlic. This festival occurs during the ninth month of the Lunar calendar and has been celebrated in Thailand since the 1780’s. It’s a celebration of food and a time to focus on purity, cleansing, and abstinence. During this time many Thai’s abstain from meat, dairy, onions, and garlic. Onions and garlic in Buddhist culture are seen as being over stimulating and aphrodisiacs, so while normally an integral part of Thai cuisine, Thai garlic during this period of time is off limits.
Thai garlic originated in Thailand and had been grown since ancient times. It is grown predominantly in the northern areas like Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Mae Hong Son and is distributed domestically. Thai garlic is believed to have then made its way out of Bangkok, Thailand to Canada via Salt Springs Seed Company of British Columbia and eventually to the United States. In the United States and Canada, it is specialty garlic that can be found at select farmers markets in garlic growing regions.
This meal really piles on both the pepper and garlic heat – and it is totally delicious as well as being easy. I’ve even given you a fast and effective shortcut to making fried garlic in the microwave that cuts down the cooking time even more, Citizens!
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