Gaeng Hang Lae • (แกงฮังเล)
Recipe courtesy of Thai Food by David Thompson
200g (6 oz) pork belly
200 g (6 oz) pork ribs
3 tbs rendered pork fat or oil
12 red shallots peeled
3 cups coarsely shredded ginger
1 cup pickled garlic, peeled and heads cut in half
1 cup pickled garlic syrup
½ roasted peanuts
3 tbs palm sugar
4 – 5 button mushrooms cut into 4 tbs fish sauce
4 tbs tamarind water
1 – 2 cups stock or water

Curry Paste
10 dried long red chillies, deseeded, soaked and drained
large pinch of salt
1 tbs galangal chopped
2 tbs ginger chopped
6 tbs lemongrass chopped
2 tbs ginger chopped
1 tbs turmeric chopped
8 tbs red shallots chopped
6 tbs garlic chopped
1 tbs coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1 ts cumin seeds, roasted and ground
3 star anise, roasted and ground
2cm (1 inch) piece of cassia bark, roasted and ground
5 cloves, roasted and ground (optional)
1 cardamom pod, roasted and seeds ground (optional)

Ginger & Garlic Paste
4 cloves garlic, peeled
½ ts salt
2cm (1 inch) piece of ginger peeled

This curry comes from the north of Thailand, as the name suggest, and is sometimes called a Burmese curry; it was adopted by the northern Thai when they were under the rule of the Burmese from the 16th to 18th centuries. With the complexities of a Massaman Curry, also an imported curry, this thick and oily dish is redolent of spices that suggest an Indian origin, not very far away from the borders of Myanmar (as Burma is now called).

Pork belly and ribs and peanuts are the most consistent ingredients in this curry, which has many variations. On the northern border of Thailand, at Chiang Saen, the loca version adds a selection of vegetables; boiled or fermented bamboo shoots, long green and apple eggplants or snake beans, to the requisite pork and peanuts.

Always make more than necessary as this curry keeps well; in fact it improves in the keeping.


First, make the curry paste using a mortar and pestle. Individual ingredients are added are added gradually, in a given order, from from the hardest and driest to the softest and wettest, with each being reduced to pulp before the next is added.

Next make the garlic paste by also pounding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle.

Blanch the pork belly and ribs twice from a cold water start. refresh and,
when cool, cut into 2cm (1 inch)
cubes. Heat fat or oil and fry garlic and ginger paste until golden. Add the curry paste and pork and simmer for several minutes, stirring regularly. Add shallots, ginger, pickled garlic, pickled garlic syrup and peanuts. Season with palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water. Cover with stock or water and simmer for 1 hour, or until pork is tender. Check seasoning; it should be salty, sweet and sour, with flavours of ginger and star anise.

Suggested accompaniments:
• deep fried fish (Pla Tod)
• crispy fried pork (Moo Krop)
• deep fried pork skin (Khep Moo)