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LCOOL ACT - Bendethera 06 - 22-24 Oct

Damian and Cindy - Mar Hor

(taken from “Thai food” by David Thompson, the most comprehensive and traditional thai cookbook on the market, and a must have in any home cooks library)

Minced Pork, Chicken & Prawn paste with Pineapple & Mandarin
“ma hor”

This dish’s Thai name whimsically means ‘galloping horses’. It is a perfect hors d’oeuvre because of the wonderful interplay between the sweet, nutty and salty relish, the sweet and sour pineapple and the succulent mandarin.  Ma hor stimulates and teases the palate in readiness for the meal to follow.

This proportion will make enough for 20-25 or so people, or a foil covered camping table’s worth.

  • 100g minced pork
  • 100g minced skinless chicken breast or thigh
  • 100 minced uncooked prawns
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • oil for frying
  • 1 cup palm sugar
  • ½ cup fish sauce
  • ½ cup deep fried shallots
  • ½ cup deep fried garlic
  • 4 tablespoons ground roasted peanuts
  • ½ pineapple
  • 10 mandarins
  • handful coriander leaves
  • 1 long red chilli, cut in half lengthwise, deseeded and shredded
  • 4 coriander roots, scraped and chopped.
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 15 white peppercorns

Fry the minced pork, chicken and prawns separately, each with a pinch of salt in a little oil, then drain and cool.

Next, make the paste by pounding the ingredients using a pestle and mortar until fine.  Fry the paste in 3 tablespoons of oil until golden and fragrant.  Add the palm sugar and fish sauce, and simmer gently for a few minutes until quite thick.  Add the pork, chicken and prawns and simmer for a few minutes, stirring to prevent the meat from clumping.  Add half of each of the deep fried shallots and garlic and the roasted peanuts, and simmer until reduced to a thick paste: it should taste sweet, nutty and salty.  Remove from heat and finish with the remaining deep fried shallots, garlic and roasted peanuts.  Put to one side to cool – the mixture will solidify considerably.

Prepare the fruit.  Peel the pineapple, cut into 1/8’s and remove the core, cut crosswise into triangles.  Segment the mandarins then remove the top portion (middle of mandarin) and remove the seeds, then slit flesh to form a pocket.  When ready to serve, roll pieces of the mixture into small balls and fill the mandarin pockets and place on top of the pineapple slices.  Finish with a coriander leaf and a slice of chilli.

Damo’s tips:

•    If you cant buy pre made deep fried shallots and garlic you can make it easily by finely slicing the garlic and shallots (French eschalots) and then deep frying in small bunches until golden brown, then draining and cooling on absorbent paper towel.  The left over frying oil has a fantastic garlic and shallot flavour, so use this in the recipe where needed or filter and use for future cooking.

•    The coriander roots are prepared by running a knife blade along them (perpendicular) to scrape the very outer layer off.  The white inside flesh of the root has a very concentrated flavour and adds quite a bit to the overall dish.  Unfortunately late on a Thursday night trying to find somewhere that sells coriander with the roots still attached is difficult, and the dish was slightly lacking in aromatics because of this.

•    Be extremely careful with the hot paste as it is molten sugar and is extremely hot.  When tasting for flavour balance, make sure you let the mixture cool before it hits your mouth as it WILL BURN.

•    Do not fill the pieces of fruit too far in advance as the acids in the fruit break down the paste and the sugars in the paste will make the fuit weep.  Hence, miss out on a bit of social time while you do the final prep.

•    Get the normal pineapple, not the sweet variety as the acid really adds to the contrasts of flavour.