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Thai Red Curry with Pork Belly and Water Spinach | Gang Tay Po | แกงเทโพ

Thai Red Curry with Pork Belly and Water Spinach | Gang Tay Po | แกงเทโพ

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.

Thai Red Curry with Pork Belly and Water Spinach | Gang Tay Po | แกงเทโพ

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!

Thai Red Curry with Pork Belly and Water Spinach | Gang Tay Po | แกงเทโพ

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!

Thai Red Curry with Pork Belly and Water Spinach | Gang Tay Po | แกงเทโพ

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.

You can be sure that whenever I find myself in possession of fresh kaffir limes, this curry will be on the menu, perhaps along with a Thai-inspired tart or cake for dessert!

Thai Red Curry with Pork Belly and Water Spinach | Gang Tay Po | แกงเทโพ


Red Curry with Pork Belly and Water Spinach | Gang Tay Po | แกงเทโพ

Makes 4 servings

Red Curry with Pork Belly and Water Spinach | Gang Tay Po | แกงเทโพ


  • 2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste (Gang Kua is best, but Gang Ped also works)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2-4 cups water
  • 1 fresh kaffir lime, sliced in half
  • 1 Tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar
  • 3 cups water spinach leaves and stems, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 1 cup pork belly, skin removed and sliced into thin pieces
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, deveined and torn in pieces


  1. Scoop the top 1/3 cup from a can of coconut milk to obtain the thicker coconut cream portion. Heat the coconut cream over medium to medium-high heat in a wok until it starts to separate into its oil and milk layers.
  2. Add the red curry paste, stir to incorporate into the coconut cream, and then let it fry until a sheen of oil can be seen on top, being careful not to let it burn.
  3. Add the pork belly slices, coat them in the curry paste, and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add the remaining thinner part of the coconut milk as well as 1 cup of water and bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Allow the pork belly to cook, uncovered, until it is very tender. This should take at least 1 hour and up to 2-3 hours, depending on your heat and the size of your pork belly slices. During this process, additional water may be necessary to ensure that the pork belly is covered in liquid.
  5. Once the pork belly is cooked through, season the curry with tamarind paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Taste the curry and adjust these seasonings according to which brand of curry paste you used and your personal taste preferences.
  6. Add the water spinach, kaffir lime leaves, and halved fresh kaffir lime. If you enjoy kaffir lime flavor as much as I do, feel free to squeeze a bit of the juice into the curry for more pronounced flavor. Allow the curry to cook for a few minutes more, just until the water spinach is done. Serve immediately over jasmine rice.


9 comments… add one
  • Dominique May 25, 2015, 10:17 am

    Dear Rachel, I enjoy your blog a lot – for inspiration as well as reassurance. I cook red curry with water spinach quite often, but usually used loin cut. I like your version much better. Unfortunately Swiss customs have banned Kafir Limes, so I have to do with regular limes. It was truly delicious all the same, thank you!

  • Omar April 16, 2014, 1:49 am

    I just wanted to let you know I LOVE your blog!!

    • Rachel April 16, 2014, 2:13 pm

      Thanks, Omar! That means a lot…

  • Bibs @ Tasteometer January 5, 2014, 4:17 pm

    This sounds a delicious alternative to traditional red curry. Will have to try it when I can get some decent pork belly. I am unable to get water spinach here, would regular spinach be acceptable?

    • Rachel January 5, 2014, 10:42 pm

      Hi Bibs, using regular spinach instead of pak boong is a good idea. I think it would work pretty well in this dish… Best of luck!

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