Khua Kling Moo (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork)

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

5 from 1 review

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



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)


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.



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.


Keywords: khua kling moo, khua kling, southern thai dry curry paste