Khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง) is one of the pillars of southern Thai cuisine, a dish that you’ll find throughout the south of Thailand, and in every restaurant serving southern Thai food within Thailand.
It’s basically a dry meat curry, and though I’ll be making this recipe with pork, you can really use any type of meat you’d like – from beef to chicken – and you could even use other meats if you’d like.
Once you have southern Thai curry paste, you can check out the recipe for that here, khua kling is actually really simple to make, and it tastes incredible.
The base of any plate of Thai khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง) is meat, and if you love spicy meat, this is a dish you’re going to love.
In Thailand you’ll find versions made with either minced meat or with small slices of meat – and really, both ways are incredibly delicious, just up to your own preference of meat texture.
For meat, pork is common and that’s what I’m using in this recipe, but beef is equally as common and equally as delicious.
If you want to get sort of a coarse mince, which I think works well for this dish, you can mince it by hand, by just chopping the meat over and over again using a Chinese style cleaver on a cutting board.
Along with being flavored mostly with a generous amount of southern Thai curry paste, one of the key flavor enhancing ingredients in khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง) is finely sliced kaffir lime leaves.
I love finely shaved kaffir lime leaves so much that I like to add some to the meat while it’s being fried, and add more to garnish on the top of the plate at the end (watch the video, below, for all the details).
At restaurants in Thailand you’ll find that some use finely sliced lemongrass as well, while other don’t. I personally love the addition of fresh lemongrass, so I chose to include it in this recipe.
Here are all the ingredients you need to make this khua kling recipe (but be sure to check out the full recipe with ingredients and instructions in the box below):
- 500 g. minced pork or beef
- 3 tbsp. southern Thai curry paste
- 50 g. lemongrass – about 2 stalks
- 1 red colored spur chili (prik chee fah)
- 10 – 15 kaffir lime leaves
- pinch of sugar (depending on how much you like and how much you want to )
- Thai bird chilies for garnish (prik kee noo)
That’s all the ingredients. Like I mentioned above, as long as you have already made southern Thai curry paste, or if you have some on hand, this recipe is easy to make and extremely tasty.
The first step is to just take your lemongrass, the red spur chili, and the kaffir lime leaves and shave them finely.
Especially for the lemongrass and the kaffir lime leaves, the finer you shave them, the more flavorful they will be, and the softer they will be to eat.
For the kaffir limes leaves, I like to grab about 5 or 6 leaves, and fold them over to create a bunch of layers before slicing. This makes it much easier to start shaving them in tiny strips.
Since khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง) is a Thai dry curry, you don’t need to use any oil while frying it, like you would in many other Thai or Chinese dishes.
It also helps to have quite a lean cut of meat, so that not too much oil or moisture comes out when cooking – you want the meat to remain nice and dry until being served.
The first step is to start frying the southern Thai curry paste, and as soon as you add it to a medium hot wok, it should immediately start to smell incredible.
Keeping the curry dry
When you fry the meat, it might get really dry, but just keep frying and keep scraping the bottom of your pan. Eventually some moister, and the small amount of fat from the meat, will give you enough liquid to work with.
You shouldn’t need to add any water, just keep frying it until the meat is all the way cooked though.
Once the meat is fully cooked, you might have to do a little bit of taste testing, just to confirm your khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง) tastes amazing.
Your curry paste might be a little different from mine, so you might need to add in a bit more curry paste, or salt, or whatever seasoning you think it needs.
Before you start cooking, make sure you watch the full video of this recipe for all the preparation details.
(If you can’t see the video, watch it here: http://youtu.be/KX5tQ1F-U10)
Khua kling moo (วิธีทำคั่วกลิ้งหมู)
Time: If you have prepared your curry paste, it will just take about 15 minutes to make this Thai dish
Recipe size: 1/2 kg. or meat, a good sized plate – maybe for 2 – 4 people as one of a few different dishes
Cooking utensils: wok / frying pan
Flavors: Spicy and salty
Eat it with: Rice and a variety of other southern Thai foods, like curry and soup – more recipes coming soon.
- 500 g. minced pork, beef, or chicken (I used minced meat, but small slices of meat are common too)
- 3 tbsp. southern Thai curry paste (you can see the recipe here)
- 50 g. lemongrass (this was 2 stalks when I made this recipe)
- 1 red spur chili (this is not completely necessary, but if you add one, it will make your curry look really nice)
- 10 - 15 kaffir lime leaves (I probably used about ¾ of them while cooking, and used the other ¼ to sprinkle on top at the end)
- pinch of sugar (depending on how much you like and how much you want to )
- Thai bird chilies (I like to slice up some red Thai bird chilies to sprinkle on top of my plate, just for the final spicy touch and for extra red color)
- The first step is to take your lemongrass, slice off the bottoms of the stalks, tear off two or three of the tough outer layers, and then finely shave it. The finer you shave the lemongrass, the more flavor it will add, and the the easier it will be to chew.
- To prepare the kaffir lime leaves, you want to grab about five or six leaves, which come as a pair, then I like to fold them over, so you’ve got a nice layered sandwich of kaffir lime leaves. Slice off any of the big stems if there are any, and then finely slice them into thin strips.
- I included the spur chili in this recipe mostly to give the khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง) a beautiful red accent color, but it's not what gives the dish its spice - that comes from the curry paste. For the spur chili, just cut off the stem, slice the chili in half, and then slice it into thin diagonal strips. Set all those ingredients aside, and we'll come back to them later.
- Turn on your stove to a medium high heat, heat up your wok or pan for a few seconds, and then add about 3 tbsp. of southern Thai curry paste (it may be kind of dry, but since this is a dry curry, you don't want to add any oil).
- One of the tricks my wife taught me, so the curry paste doesn't burn, is to quickly add in just 1 spoon of meat into the curry paste and start to stir fry it. This will give the curry paste a little extra moisture, but it will still get that direct heat that you want, so the curry paste reaches its maximum flavor potential.
- Fry the curry paste for 2 - 3 minutes, and then add in the rest of the meat. Your pan should be quite hot, and due to the dryness, it might start to stick to the bottom. So you want to really work the wok hard by scraping and getting all that good flavor off the bottom of the pan.
- Stir fry the meat until it’s broken into small minced pieces, and almost all the way cooked through, then toss in just a pinch of sugar, depending on how much you like (I used about ½ teaspoon, but I know some Thai cooks would use a whole spoon in their recipe).
- Give it a quick stir, then add the lemongrass.
- Quickly stir it, then toss in about ¾ of your shaved kaffir lime leaves. Stir fry for about 1 minute.
- Just a few seconds before turning off your heat, add the sliced red spur chili, stir fry for a few more seconds, and turn off your heat, but keep frying for another minute or so.
- Grab a bowl, and dish out your khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง).
- The final step is to take the remaining portion of your finely shaved kaffir lime leaves (of you can slice more if you used them all), along with a handful of sliced Thai bird chilies, and sprinkle them on top of your plate of khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง).
Khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง) is one of standard dishes you’ll find in southern Thailand. I like to compare it to a strong flavored dry sausage that’s lean and with no casing; It’s a heavily spiced meat dish.
The southern Thai curry paste is orange from turmeric, and it gives the khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง) a beautiful, well rounded flavor, with garlic, lemongrass, shallots and chilies. The addition of more lemongrass and finely shaved kaffir lime leaves contributes to balancing the spicy meat with a fresh citrusy component.
Whenever I eat at a southern Thai restaurant in Bangkok or anywhere in Thailand, one of the dishes I can never do without ordering, is a plate of khua kling (คั่วกลิ้ง), and luckily, it’s pretty straight forward to make it at home too.
Do you love khua kling?
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