Nahm Prik Ohng (A tasty meat sauce studded with tomatoes and onions)
7 to 10 small dried red chilies
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 piece fermented soybean sauce cake, lightly toasted, or 1/2 teaspoon of shrimp paste
2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1/4 pound of coarsely chopped pork
20 cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise into eighths
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
2 small cucumbers, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into thick ovals
7 green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 wedges of green cabbage (about 2 inches wide at widest point)
Some crisp-fried pork skins
1. Prepare rice, allowing at least 4 hours for soaking and cooking.
2. Meanwhile, stem the chilies and shake out and discard most of the seeds. Cut the chilies into small pieces and soak the pieces in warm water to cover for 20 minutes. Drain the chilies and transfer to a large, heavy mortar. Add the salt and pound and grind with a pestle until the chilies are broken down, about 3 minutes. Crumble the soybean cake into the mortar,then add shallot and garlic. Pound to work the mixture into a paste, about
3. 5 minutes. Pound more judiciously now, keeping the mortar well in front of you to avoid nasty splashes of chili goo, and using a spoon to scrape the ingredients together now and then. When you have a coarse, rust-colored puree, set it aside.
4. Heat a work or deep, heavy medium skillet over low heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and swirl to coat the surface. Warm the oil for 1 minute.Add the chili paste and cook for 3 minutes, scraping and turning now andthen, until it is fragrant and the color darkens a little.
5. Increase the heat to medium and crumble in the pork. Add the tomatoes, oss a few times, and simmer until the tomatoes wilt and the sauce reddens and thicken, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce and sugar and simmer another 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning for a pleasing balance of salty, hot,sour, and sweet. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool.
6. To serve, transfer the sauce to a small bowl and place it on a platter along with the cucumbers, green beans, cabbage wedges, and pork skins. Serve warm or at room temperature with the rice.