I first had this red curry with pork belly and water spinach at the Thai temple in San Bruno. It was a Sunday morning and I was sitting at my dining room table, trying to bust out some articles about Thai food to meet an upcoming deadline for Answers.com (which is really coming along, by the way! If you haven’t checked it out recently, it’s worth a look…). This particular morning, however, even though I knew what I wanted to say, the words just weren’t flowing.
Rather than dwell in writer’s block misery, I decided to take a little break and visit the local Thai temple. Fortunately one of my best friends was up for the adventure, so we headed out, planning on picking up a yummy lunch, and secretly hoping for a little Thai food inspiration.
The temple itself is not terribly big, but there were quite a few different food stalls set up in the courtyard when we arrived. They had booths for pad Thai, som tam, noodle soups, curries, and even some nam prik relishes. As we made our rounds, exploring all of the different options and trying to decide what to feast on that day, I noticed a kaffir lime floating in one of the curries. I was, of course, immediately sold on trying that curry, given how in love I am with the distinctive taste of this lime!
We bought a plate of that curry (which I now know is called gang tay po in Thai), along with some delicious fried fish cakes and a rather pungent nam prik gapi, and sat down to enjoy our lunch. It was all fantastic, but for me, the star of the show was the curry. Its taste was similar to a traditional Thai red curry, but with a pleasant sourness from tamarind and citrusy aroma from the kaffir lime. The spiciness and sourness played exceptionally well against the fatty flavor of the pork belly and the crunchy stems of the water spinach. It really was just as good as I imagined it might be!
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my brother told me that he had too many kaffir limes on his tree and offered to send me some. It wasn’t a difficult offer to accept, because after having gang tay po at the Thai temple, I knew exactly what dish I was going to try to recreate!
It turns out that this curry is not any more difficult to make than a standard red or green Thai curry, but its flavors really are exceptional. That combination of spicy and sour, superimposed with the aroma of kaffir lime, and encased in a rich coconut base invites you in and makes you want more. It is unlike any of the other Thai curries I’ve had so far, yet just as satisfying.