Baby watermelon with pork rib and roasted chilli broth
Good morning from the midst of booming thunder and a tropical deluge that is pelting downtown Bangkok!
I am here for ‘one show only’ and I am still full of things to share from Chiang Rai.
This is an unusual but really quite ‘normal’ offering today. I’m using watermelon – while it is immature and green. We call it “Tang Thai” – “Tang mo” being watermelon, and Tang Thai being the Thai watermelon.
Never mind. Unlike chefs, baked items and the Dubai workforce, all watermelons are created equal. You can also use ‘normal’ non-Thai watermelons. But here is the catch – they have to be babies.
Yep – once again, I’m a babykiller.
I’m talking green, young, hard-as-a-rock baby melons that are nowhere near ready – seeds undeveloped and flesh inside looking just like a fat zucchini.
Over here, the baby watermelons are used a few ways.
Simply sliced, and eaten raw on the side of nam prik dips and ‘larb’ salads is one way. The appearance, taste and texture is almost like raw zucchini.
The other way is in a simple ‘Gaeng’ or ‘curry.
In most of Thailand ‘Gaeng” is a coconut milk based curry with freshly smashed Thai curry paste. Tasty but fattening, and excellent at clogging the arteries and sometimes the access to the bathroom too.
In the North, “gaeng” is pretty much anything simmered in a spiced broth and served like a soup. It is always healthy, light and tasty.
The broth can be simple – garlic, chilli, kaffir lime and salt…….up to a complex combination of complementary ingredients.
This recipe is light, simple, healthy and delicious,, and has no fat, so I’m sharing.
If you cannot find baby watermelons or grow them, then you can use potato for this dish.
baby watermelon, peeled and cubed (no seeds)
toasted dry red chilli flakes
salt (or a potassium salt substitute if watching your blood pressure)
kaffir lime leaves
knorr stock cubes (*optional – but see – I can be simple and easy to follow)
pork on the bone (any – but young pork spare-ribs would be great)
fresh coriander (or you could use sweet basil leaves if you prefer)
- Pound the roasted dry red chilli with salt and garlic.
- Put on a pot with cold water in
- Add pork to the pot. In the North it is just put in on the bone. For ease of eating or a bit more sophistication, add bones seperately so they can be taken out, or use baby pork spareribs
- Add the diced baby watermelon and the kaffir lime leaves.
- Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, or until the watermelon is soft and juicy – like well cooked potato.
- Check the seasoning – adjust salt and add a touch of sugar if it needs more body. NOT sweet – just a pinch to balance the salt.
- To finish, take off the heat, add the coriander (or basil) and serve.
This recipe is pretty healthy. It is chock full of antioxidants. Studies have shown that baby watermelon is more beneficial to eyesight than carrots.
The wee critter also has 20% of ‘good’ carbs, and is good for blood pressure due to high potassium, magnesium & content.
Oh – and a high count of Vitamins C & D just to close the sale. It even sounds interesting on the menu.
The mouth feel is starchy just like potato, or sort of like a marrow that actually tastes good.
The recipe pictured is home style Northern Thai – but it can certainly be ‘revised’ into something more sophisticated.
I give you not a recipe – but the gift of baby watermelon as an ingredient to simmer like potatoes and funky-up your food offerings.
Anyone who cares to take off with this idea, let me know what you are doing. I’m all ears!