Having only just arrived in Bangkok and thrown our bags carelessly at our hostel beds, our first thought turned to the empty, vacant feeling that pervaded our transit weary stomachs. Having been to Bangkok before we knew exactly what we wanted. Khao Kha Moo – pork leg stewed long and low in a mixture of spices served atop perfectly cooked rice and Asian greens, doused in a proprietary dressing consisting of the essential chilli, garlic and vinegar mix – known affectionately, to us, as ‘The Pork Dish’.
What followed was temporary heart break. We ambled down to our favourite spot, near Soi Rambuttri, to find only empty space where the vendor had flogged her swiney delights on our last visit. Our eyes peeled on the lookout for the friendly, beckoning pig that accentuated the stall amongst the other street snack sellers.
No such luck. Our semi-jocular fears were realised. Our flight long eulogising had only tempted fate. We felt like nothing could cure our hunger other than this, now, mythical dish. Our tunnel vision was short-lived, however, as we came to the soothing realisation that we were in Bangkok – one of the street food capitals of the world – and that myriad equally delicious alternatives could be found within a childs stone throw. We weren’t wrong. Not six-feet from where we stood, gazing at where ‘The Pork Dish’ once was, resided a purveyor of delicious pork noodle soup. The broth mimicking that familiar flavour of the slow cooked pig that won our hearts and bellies the year before.
Our hopes restored and stomachs filled we headed out for a wander and few drinks to celebrate the beginning of our six-month Asian sojourn. Little did we know that, on our return, we would be greeted with the most glorious sights and aromas that a slightly drunk, very heartbroken, food fanatic could possibly wish for. There it was, in all its slow cooked glory…’The Pork Dish’.
The asian spices, the succulent pig parts…the knowing grin of our ‘old friend’ the pig. I was already fumbling wildly in my pockets for the necessary baht to render me, well and truly, ‘pork dished’ before anyone else had even noticed it standing there. I was in auto- pilot as I order myself one. One? As if one would be anywhere near enough. We gleefully handed over our 30 baht offerings – honestly, we would’ve paid 300 – and received our polystyrene troughs of joy. It was all I could do not to snatch the food, fly- trap like, and run off into the night in a pork-induced narcosis. I steadied myself, gave our thanks and wandered homeward where we could devour our dinner with the respect and decorum we feel this dish is due.
We ordered ourselves a tepid, frothy Chang (the only way to sud in Thailand) and sat down to the most eagerly anticipated meal since the ‘Last Supper’.
We fleetingly admired it in all its simple, piggy glory before unashamedly inhaling the meal in a ‘feeding time at the zoo’ like frenzy – both despicable and glorious in equal measure. Pausing intermittently to admire the perfectly tender, subtly spice pork. Fatty and succulent – a real departure from the traditionally light, healthy, guilt-free dishes usually served up in South East Asia. The fall apart nature of the hock is offset by the welcome crunch of the barely cooked greens and the cleansing, absorbent rice. All this brought together by the tangy, spicy dressing that cuts so perfectly through the rich, soft meat. After months and months of anticipation, the event was over in a matter of minutes…and it wasn’t long before we were out on the street again ordering ourssleves a greedy second helping – just to make sure we were right the first time.
Look for the pig