That Spicy Chick

Khua Kling Moo (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork)

Khua Kling Moo (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork) is a spicy ground pork slow stir-fry that’s exploding with bright flavors and fiery notes! It’s naturally gluten-free, flexible with your choice of protein, and is vegetarian/vegan adaptable.

Close up top view of Khua Kling Moo on rice garnished with coriander and mint leaves in a black bowl.

Spicy, salty, sweet, and citrusy! This Khua Kling Moo (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork) is wickedly tasty and wonderfully spicy – so you know I am ALL OVER IT!! 😍

Southern Thai food is known for its super spicy, fragrant, and bold flavor-packed dishes. This dish is one of the most well-known dishes from the region. Unlike your typical coconut milk/cream based Thai curry which you find in central Thai cuisine, this is a dry curry.

It’s made by gently stir-frying the meat so that it “roasts” in a lovely and fiery curry paste. The result is the meat blending in with the paste and almost becoming one with it. Serve it with some steamed rice, cooling vegetables, and bright herbs, and you’ve got yourself an EPIC southern Thai meal!

Top view of Khua Kling Moo on rice in a black bowl. Cucumber and green beans on plate and stir-fry in wok behind.

Why This Recipe Works

  • It’s packed with an incredible amount of flavor thanks to fresh Thai aromatics in the curry paste, and is deliciously and addictively spicy!
  • The southern Thai curry paste is made by quickly blitzing everything up in a food processor as opposed to the traditional way – using a traditional mortar and pestle – to save time.
  • It’s flexible with the protein you use – ground pork, chicken, turkey, beef, crumbled tofu, or even textured vegetable protein (TVP) will all taste great!
  • Serving it alongside cooling vegetables like cucumber and snake beans helps cool your palate and makes eating this spicy dish enjoyable.
  • The curry paste can be made ahead and frozen.

Ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Southern Thai Curry Paste on wooden board.
Southern Thai Curry Paste Ingredients
Labeled ingredients for Khua Kling Moo on wooden board.
Khua Kling Moo Ingredients

A couple of notes on some of the ingredients first. This dish has quite a few Asian/Thai ingredients. I recommend making a trip to your local Asian or Thai specialty grocery store to find them.

  • Kaffir Lime Leaves: Be sure to finely chop them into thin strips so that they soften and blend into the stir-fry (and don’t get stuck in your teeth while eating!).
  • Coriander Roots: If you can’t get coriander with the roots still on, use the stems. (This ingredient is not pictured as I accidentally left it in the fridge when taking the photo. But it’s the bottom stem part of the coriander stalk inclusive of the hairy parts. Wash well to get rid of any dirt before using.)
  • Asian Red Shallots: Substitute with red onion if you can’t find these.
  • Galangal: It’s similar to ginger but not quite the same. It has an earthy and slightly citrusy flavor. I like to use a lot of galangal in my southern Thai curry paste as I adore the aromatic flavor it gives the dish. But you can use less if you prefer.
  • Fresh Turmeric: Use turmeric powder if fresh turmeric is not easy to find for you. Be careful when handling it as it will stain EVERYTHING. Use an old chopping board that you’re not too particular about and tongs to handle them after slicing.
  • Lemongrass stalks: If fresh lemongrass is unavailable, you can use lemongrass paste instead.
  • Shrimp Paste: This funky smelling paste adds extra depth and a savory umami flavor to the curry paste. There are several varieties of this paste (Malaysian – belacan, Thai – gapi, and Chinese versions), and it comes in small containers with a lid or as hardened blocks in a package. It may be malodorous by itself, but once blended up into the curry paste, you won’t be able to smell it at all.

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

How to Make Khua Kling Moo

For the Southern Thai Curry Paste:

  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Add them to a food processor bowl, along with the kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and shrimp paste.
  2. Pulse: Cover and pulse into a smooth paste, uncovering as needed to push down the ingredients with a spoon and adding 2-3 tablespoons of the chili soaking liquid to help the paste come along. (It’s okay if there are a few chunky bits, but try to get the paste as smooth as possible.) Transfer to a bowl or container and set aside.
Ingredients for southern Thai curry paste in food processor bowl before and after pulsing.

For the Khua Kling Moo:

  1. Render pork fat: Heat a large wok or nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 3-4 tablespoons of the ground pork. Cook for a minute or so, until the pork releases some fat and juices. (Note: If your pork is very lean, add some canola or vegetable oil before you add the pork to the wok.)
  2. Add the southern Thai curry paste: Cook with the pork for a minute until fragrant.
  3. Add remainder pork: Stir-fry gently, breaking up the clumps as you go.
  4. Continue stir-frying: For 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the liquid has cooked off and the pork is cooked. It should be dry and there shouldn’t be any liquid pooling. (Note: This is a slow stir-fry. Avoid the urge to turn up the heat, and gently stir-fry until the pork and paste sort of meld into each other.)
  5. Season: Add the fish sauce, lime juice, coconut sugar, black pepper, kaffir lime leaves strips, and large red chili slices.
  6. Taste: Toss to combine until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, then switch off the heat.
  7. Serve: Garnish with chopped coriander and mint leaves, and serve with warm steamed white rice, and cooling vegetables like cucumber slices and green snake beans.
Khua Kling Moo process steps collage.

Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

Front view of ground pork stir-fry garnished with coriander on rice in black bowl.

Cook’s Tips

  • Use a pork that is not too lean or fatty. It should be able to render a little fat so that you don’t have to use cooking oil (it alters the flavor), but not excessively fatty so that your stir-fry ends up becoming very greasy.
  • Make the southern Thai curry paste a day in advance to save time. This way, you can make the stir-fry in a matter of minutes. Store in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Use lemon juice and sunlight to help clean your food processor bowl. The fresh turmeric may leave yellow stains in your food processor bowl. To get rid of the stains, add 2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the bowl and let it sit near a window where there’s plenty of sunlight coming in for a few hours. Then rinse with soap and water as you normally would.
Spoon holding up a bite of ground pork stir-fry with rice above a bowl with the pork and rice.

FAQs

Can I use a different non-vegetarian protein?

Ground chicken, beef, or turkey all would work well. You could also use finely chopped slices of the aforementioned meats if you prefer.

Can I make this vegetarian/vegan?

Use textured vegetable protein (TVP), crumbled firm tofu, or finely chopped brown Asian mushrooms in place of the pork. Also use miso paste in place of the shrimp paste, and a vegan fish sauce or soy sauce.

Can I make it gluten-free?

The ingredients for this recipe are gluten-free. But double check that the fish sauce you are using is certified GF. If making this vegetarian/vegan, use a gluten-free soy sauce in place of the fish sauce.

How spicy is Khua Kling?

It’s very spicy, like most dishes from Southern Thai cuisine are. If you’re not big on spice, feel free to try some other Thai recipes on the blog. They can be adapted to be milder and tailored to your heat level preference.

Can I make this milder?

Authentic southern Thai Khua Kling is meant to be spicy and fiery. However, you can use half the amount of the paste for the stir-fry and freeze the other half for a later date if you’d like to make this milder. Or you could use fewer fresh chilies when making the paste if you absolutely must.

How do I store leftovers?

Store leftovers for 3-4 days in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring once in between, until hot throughout.

Can I freeze this?

The paste can be made up to two months ahead and frozen in a sealed airtight container. Thaw on the counter until no longer solid for a few hours (or overnight in the fridge) before using. I haven’t tried freezing the stir-fry, and don’t recommend doing so.

Spoon holding up a bite of ground pork stir-fry with rice and top view of bowl with pork and rice. Text overlay "Khua Kling Moo (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork)".

More Thai and Thai-inspired Recipes

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Print
Close up top view of Khua Kling Moo on rice garnished with coriander and mint leaves in a black bowl.

Khua Kling Moo (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork)

Khua Kling Moo (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork) is a spicy ground pork slow stir-fry that’s exploding with bright flavors and fiery notes

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 18
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 38 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Thai
Scale

Ingredients

For the Southern Thai Curry Paste:

  • 18 Thai Dried Red Chilies – stems removed and soaked in a bowl of warm water
  • 812 Red Bird’s Eye Chilies (or use any other small hot red chilies) – roughly chopped
  • 510 Green Bird’s Eye Chilies (or use any other small hot green chilies) – roughly chopped
  • 10 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped
  • 2-inch piece fresh Turmeric (or use 1.5 TSP turmeric powder if unavailable) – washed, peeled if necessary, and roughly chopped
  • 4-inch piece Galangal – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 56 Asian Red Shallots – peeled and chopped
  • 2 Lemongrass Stalks (or substitute with 2 TBLS Lemongrass Paste) – bottom woody part and upper tough part chopped off, outer layers removed and discarded, bruised, then sliced lengthwise through the middle and finely minced
  • 6 Kaffir Lime Leaves – destemmed and sliced into thin strips
  • 3 TBLS Coriander Roots (use stems if roots are unavailable) – washed, pat-dried, roughly chopped
  • 1 TSP Kosher Salt
  • 1 TBLS freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 TSP Shrimp Paste

For the Khua Kling Moo:

  • 500 grams Ground Pork (or use ground chicken, turkey, or beef)
  • 23 TSP Fish Sauce, to taste
  • 2 TSP freshly squeezed Lime Juice
  • ½ disc (about 25 grams) Coconut Sugar – (substitute with ½ TBLS crystalized coconut or brown sugar if you have that on hand instead) – shaved with a knife
  • 1 TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • 8 Kaffir Lime Leaves – destemmed and sliced into very thin strips
  • 1 Large Red Chili – deseeded if desired, thinly sliced at an angle
  • To Serve: Chopped coriander, chopped mint leaves, warm steamed rice, cucumber slices, green snake beans (yardlong beans)

Instructions

For the Southern Thai Curry Paste:

  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Soak the Thai dried red chilies in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Prepare the fresh red and green bird’s eye chilies, garlic, fresh turmeric, galangal, Asian red shallots, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and coriander roots as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section. Squeeze out the water from the Thai dried red chilies and chop them. Then add everything to a food processor bowl, along with the kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and shrimp paste.
  2. Pulse: Cover and pulse into a smooth paste, uncovering as needed to push down the ingredients with a spoon and adding 2-3 tablespoons of the chili soaking liquid to help the paste come along. It’s okay if there are a few chunky bits, but try to get the paste as smooth as possible. Transfer to a bowl or container and set aside. (Note: The paste can be made a day in advance and stored in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator.)

For the Khua Kling Moo:

  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Destem and thinly slice the kaffir lime leaves, and slice the large red chili at an angle.
  2. Render pork fat: Heat a large wok over medium heat. Once hot, add 3-4 tablespoons of the ground pork. Cook until the pork renders some fat and juices. (Note: If your pork is very lean, add some canola or vegetable oil before you add the pork to the wok.)
  3. Add curry paste and remainder pork: Add the curry paste and stir-fry with the pork for a minute until fragrant. Then add the rest of the pork and stir-fry gently, breaking up the clumps as you go, for 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the liquid has cooked off and the pork is cooked. It should be dry and there shouldn’t be any liquid pooling. 
  4. Season: Season with the fish sauce, lime juice, coconut sugar, and black pepper. Add the thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves and sliced large red chili. Stir-fry to combine for 30 seconds, or until the coconut sugar has dissolved and blended in. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, then switch off the heat.
  5. To Serve: Garnish with chopped coriander and mint leaves, and serve with warm steamed white rice, and cooling vegetables like cucumber slices and green snake beans.

Notes

Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs

  1. Thai ingredients: Kaffir lime leaves, Asian red shallots, galangal, fresh turmeric, lemongrass stalks, and shrimp paste can be found at a Thai specialty ingredients store, and possibly some large Asian grocery stores depending on your location. Shrimp paste is also available online. You can substitute 1/2 cup of chopped red onion for the shallots.
  2. Ground pork: Try to use a ground pork that is not too lean or too fatty. It should be able to render a little fat so that you don’t have to use cooking oil (it alters the flavor), but not excessively fatty so that your stir-fry ends up becoming very greasy. But if absolutely necessary, add a little oil to the wok before you add the pork.
  3. To make this milder: Use half of the curry paste for the stir-fry and freeze the other half for a later date. Authentic Khua Kling is meant to be very fiery and spicy, and eaten with cooling vegetables to cool the palate. But if you prefer, you could use fewer fresh chilies for the curry paste.
  4. Make the southern Thai curry paste a day in advance to save time. This way, you can make the stir-fry in a matter of minutes. Store in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. Can I use a different non-vegetarian protein? Ground chicken, beef, or turkey all would work well. You could also use finely chopped slices of the aforementioned meats if you prefer.
  6. Can I make this vegetarian/vegan? Use textured vegetable protein (TVP), crumbled firm tofu, or finely chopped brown Asian mushrooms in place of the pork. Also use miso paste in place of the shrimp paste, and a vegan fish sauce or soy sauce.
  7. How do I store leftovers? Store leftovers for 3-4 days in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring once in between, until hot throughout.
  8. Can I freeze this? The paste can be made up to two months ahead and frozen in a sealed airtight container. Thaw on the counter until no longer solid for a few hours (or overnight in the fridge) before using. I haven’t tried freezing the stir-fry, and don’t recommend doing so.
  9. Recipe adapted from Marion’s Kitchen.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 545
  • Sugar: 23.1g
  • Sodium: 883.6mg
  • Fat: 27.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 10g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 14.9g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 36.3g
  • Fiber: 6.5g
  • Protein: 28.5g
  • Cholesterol: 90.4mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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