Rachel's Recipes: Turn up the heat with spicy Thai dish

By: Rachel Chaddock, Special to the Telegraph
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Soaring summertime heat always sends me in search of spicy food. Maybe it’s the idea that at least if I’m heating myself up on the inside, I have some kind of control over my body temperature, whatever the thermometer says outside. I know that many of my friends turn to the grill rather than heat up the kitchen, but I have a confession to make. Unless my husband has volunteered to cook outside, I’m going to be at the stove. The one time I tried to light a grill by myself I nearly burned off my eyebrows. I resolve to overcome that little stumbling block this year, but for now, I am safely indoors, cooking up Thai food. The nice thing about this dish is that much like a stir-fry, it really doesn’t take long to cook and you’re not going to be using many pots (just one for the pork and a second one to cook the rice). So if you have all of your ingredients prepped before you get started, you can throw your dinner together in no time and still have time to relax with your cool beverage of choice (mine seems to be iced jasmine tea at the moment). A note on the spice level: When I made this for my mother, who has always enjoyed fiery dishes, she was glowing (Southern ladies don’t sweat, you know, they glow), and her nose was running. That was with two jalapenos and a generous squirt of sriracha sauce. I’ve modified the recipe to make it a bit milder, but by all means, reduce the sauce or leave it out altogether if you’re concerned. Taste the dish as you go, and you’ll figure out the right level for yourself. And a bit of advice on chopping the jalapeños: I have a dear friend who is a chef and a Cordon Bleu graduate, and she believes that touching your eyes after chopping jalapeños is a mistake that every cook makes once. I think it might be more prudent to just not do it in the first place. Chop your chilis, wash your hands well — and still keep those fingers away from your eyes. Your fingers really don’t have any business there in the first place. My mother also mentioned this flavor combination would work really well with shrimp. I will never find out for myself, as I’m very allergic to the little monsters, but if you were to use that for your protein, I’d add it at the very end to avoid the dreaded rubberiness that comes from overcooking shrimp. And if you do try it that way, please let me know how it turns out. My mother does like to be right, as is the way of all mothers. Rachel Chaddock can be reached by e-mail at She welcomes reader questions and requests. spicy thai pork tenderloin 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into finger-sized strips 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion 1 chopped seeded jalapeño chili 1 ½ cups chicken stock 1 can coconut milk 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced into 2” lengths 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (optional) 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 2 large tomatoes, diced 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro Chopped cilantro and shredded basil, for garnish Accompaniment: steamed rice (preferably jasmine or basmati, but any rice is fine) Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add pork and sauté until browned on the outside and nearly cooked through. Transfer to plate. Add onions and jalapeño to the same skillet and sauté until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add stock and coconut milk to skillet. Drop in lemongrass pieces and add sriracha sauce, if using. Simmer until mixture is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 10-15 minutes. Return pork to skillet. Stir in lime juice. Remove the lemongrass pieces with a slotted spoon. Add tomatoes and sauté until pork is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in chopped cilantro. Transfer to serving dish, pouring over steamed rice. Sprinkle additional cilantro and basil over and serve. Serves 4-6