Nam Tok Moo, spicy pork











Grilled pork marinated in soy sauce and lime juice and white pepper.

Then quick fried with shallot and scallion, fish sauce and tamarind, sugar, hot chile flakes with sugar and water.

Toasted rice ground to coarse powder mixed in with water to form a sauce

Herbs, mint and cilantro. 

Some recipes call for salt, and that would be three types of salty substances, fish sauce, and soy both have salt.

This is a crazy wild combination that excites multiple taste points all at once. If you think of it in those terms then you can contrive your own recipes easily by aiming for every taste sensation at once, sweet, salty, sour, bitter, tart, umami, include capsaicin heat and fresh herbal aromatics. Plus you have the advantage of alcohols that take all that and permeate right through everything. With all that available you can hardly go wrong.

Tamarind and fish sauce are the two non-Western ingredients most likely not found in Western pantries. Tamarind is the chief flavor element in Worcestershire sauce, and the Western equivalent of fish sauce is anchovy. Those two would make close substitutions. Ancient Rome had its garum that is basically the same thing as Asian fish sauce, fermented fish with other things added, it sounds terrible and gross, and it is, but in small doses it flavors things excellently.

Sugar is a blatantly sweet unimaginative addition, anything sweet can take the place of that. 

I would consider fresh mint and cilantro leaves two essentials for their breathy aromatic qualities.

Toasted rice that is ground falls into that group of ground powder meal that cooks and turns to polenta the moment it boils. Corn grits are the same thing. Toasting the rice imparts a flavor that rice lacks but that other grains have. Dry beans do the exact same thing, dry peas and lentils as well. Noodles do too. Ground up noodles will react the same way with boiled water as ground wheat grain flour, or any flour. You can break dry spaghetti and dry roast it in a pan to impart toasted flavor just as rice is done here, then grind it to powder and it will do the same thing. Obviously you cannot toast corn or it will pop, but you can coarsely grind corn, then toast that for roasted flavor and grind it further to powder. Mixed thinly with water, or any liquid for that matter, these ground substances will thicken a sauce. How quickly they soften depends on how finely they are ground. That is why these small coffee mills now available for next to nothing are so valuable. Marketed for coffee beans, they do much more than that.

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