Aromatic Pork Curry with Spinach

Water spinach is numbered among many vegetables that thrive in Thailand’s humid, well-watered, tropical environment. It is a popular vegetable in Thailand and is cultivated commercially as well as growing wild in many places along the edges of the country’s many waterways.

It is similar to the spinach that is available in the West. The stems, however, are hollow. Like our familiar spinach, its intense colour and strong flavour make it a good companion to the distinctive tastes of this fragrant pork curry.


  • 450 g (1 lb) lean boneless pork
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 450 g (1 lb) fresh spinach
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded fresh galangal root or ginger
  • 2 fresh kafflr lime leaves or 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  • tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) tinned coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


Cut the pork into thin slices 5 cm (2 in) long. Put the slices into a bowl and mix in the rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornflour. Marinate for 20 minutes.

Wash the spinach thoroughly. Remove all the stems. Peel the lemongrass stalks to the tender whitish centre and crush with the flat of a knife. Cut into 7.5 cm (3 in) pieces. Soak the chillies in warm water for 10 minutes. In a blender or food processor, combine the lemongrass, chillies, garlic, galangal, lime leaves, shrimp paste, cumin seeds and coriander into a paste. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the groundnut oil, and when it is slightly smoking, add the pork slices and stir-fry them for 1 minute or until they are slightly brown. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and drain in a stainless-steel colander set inside a bowl. Add the curry paste to the wok and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the coconut milk and simmer for 8 minutes. Return the pork to the sauce with the spinach, the fish sauce and sugar and simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer to a warm serving platter, and serve at once.