Gaeng Ki Lek
- 6 plump cloves of garlic, chopped
- 5 shallots, chopped
- 10 dried long red Thai chilies, soaked in warm water for 1/2 an hour, then cut into quarters
- 5 fresh red chilies (mild to incendiary, according to your taste), sliced crosswise about 1/2 inch thick
- 4 fingers of krachai (if using pickled krachai, soak in hot water for 1/2 hour, rinse and dry), chopped
- 2 one-inch slices of kha (galangal), chopped
- 4 stalks of lemongrass, bottom tender 4-5 inches only, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups rich coconut milk (coconut cream not separated)
- fish sauce
For the curry paste, pound together, using a heavy pestle and mortar, the garlic, krachai, kha, lemongrass, and dried chilies. Add the chilies and pound lightly just to bruise them, not to incorporate fully into the paste. (Alternatively grind the ingredients together in a powerful blender or a food processor, adding *just* enough water to get them blended. Then pound the fresh chilies with the handle of a heavy knife and chuck them into the paste.)
Bring the coconut milk to a boil, in a wok or heavy-duty fry pan, over medium heat. Lower heat to a gentle simmer. The milk should thicken and eventually (within 10 minutes) give up its oil (globules of fat will appear on the surface). At this point stir in the curry paste. Simmer gently and continue to stir. After about 4–5 minutes, until the paste ingredients are sufficiently heated and the mixture becomes aromatic. Continue to stir another couple of minutes and then add fish sauce, a tablespoon at a time, until the salt balance of the curry is to your liking. The curry should nap a spoon, but not too heavily—add some water if necessary.
Add the Pork and stir until it is cooked through. Add the ki lek leaves and buds and cook until they are heated through.