Not too long ago while dining out at a local Thai restaurant I tried a dish called Kao Moo-Dang, or Thai red BBQ pork with rice. I was so impressed that I immediately got hooked. The pork was lean yet very tender. The sauce was savory, with a little bit of sweetness, and wonderfully complemented the pork without overpowering it. Slices of cucumbers and a hard boiled egg completed the dish. Everything worked so well together.
Whenever I try a dish that I love I always try to replicate it at home. This time is no exception. After reading about the dish and playing with a few recipes I think I found what I was looking for. It’s not the same, but it’s close. If you ask me, it’s even better. I love this recipe.
This recipe requires both dark and light soy sauce. Only recently did I learn about their existence. In case you wonder, just like I did, soy sauce from your local grocery store is neither. It’s somewhere in between. It’s not a good choice to use for making Thai BBQ pork. For this recipe you need dark and light soy sauce.
Shizuo Tsuji’s in his book Japanese Cooking explains: “Light soy sauce is amber in color, is clearer and thinner… but it is also saltier…. Dark soy sauce has a deeper color and more body. It’s less salty and used in relatively greater quantities.” The same holds true for the Chinese dark and light soy sauce.
To make Thai BBQ pork you can use many different cuts of pork, but my pick is tenderloin. It’s lean and therefore healthier than other pork cuts. When properly cooked it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender.
The pork in this recipe can be cooked entirely on a cast iron pan, so the word ‘BBQ’ is a bit of a misnomer here. Still, the meat is so flavorful and so tender that you will hardly miss that smoky BBQ flavor. I could not resist cooking the tenderloin on a charcoal grill and see how it turns out. I did, and it was fabulous. Tender, flavorful and smoky, with caramelized surface. If you can, definitely grill the meat.
- 2 pork tenderloins, about 2 lbs total, cut in half
- 2 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine / rice wine
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- ½ Tbsp kosher salt
- 1½ Tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp tomato sauce (or ketchup)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 Tbsp tapioca starch
- 6 cups of jasmine rice, cooked (start with about 2 cups uncooked rice)
- 2 eggs , boiled, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- Coriander leaves
- Cucumber and scallions, sliced
- In a Ziploc bag, combine Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, sugar, salt, soy sauce and tomato sauce. Add pork tenderloin and marinade in fridge for at least two hours. To expedite marination process seal the pork and the marinade in a vacuum sealer bag and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Heat a wok or a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the pork and the marinade and cook and bring to gentle boil. Cover and simmer, occasionally stirring, for about 5-7 minute. Flip the meat and continue simmering for another 5-7 minutes, until internal temperature of the meat reaches a minimum safe temperature of 145F. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
- To make the sauce, dissolve tapioca starch in 1 cup of water and add to the pan with the marinade leftovers after meat simmering. Bring to boil and simmer until the sauce thickens.
- To serve, slice the pork about ¼ inch thick, place on top of rice bed and dress with the sauce. Garnish with slices of cucumber, scallions and fresh coriander leaves.