Thai Pork Leg Stew (Khao Kha Moo)
A whole pork leg (with the knuckles) simmered in broth, soy sauce, sugar and spices.Inspired by the pork leg stew at Nok Lae Sukothai Noodle, the best we had in Chiang Mai.
- 1 pork leg with the knuckles (see notes after the recipe)
- 1 whole garlic split horizontally
- 2 shallots halved
- 6 cups bone broth
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar (you may need more)
- 1 teaspoon mah kwan (Sichuan peppercorns may be substituted)
- 5 slices dried galangal
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 star anise
- 6 stalks cilantro (you only need about an inch from the root end; reserve the stalks and leaves for another use)
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- fish sauce to taste
- Rinse the pork leg well and scrape off visible hair with a knife. If the hairs are too stubborn, use a kitchen torch to scorch them then scrape clean with a knife.
- Place the pork leg and knuckles in a pot, cover with water and boil hard for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the pork and scrape off any impurities attached to it.
- Place the pork in a clean pot. Add all the ingredients except the fish sauce. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer until the meat falls off the bone.
- Taste the broth every half hour or so and add fish sauce and sugar, as needed. DO NOT be tempted to add more soy sauce to prevent the stew from turning too dark.
- When the pork leg is done, leave to soak in the broth until cool.
- Scoop out the pork, pull off the bone and discard. Cut the meat and skin into slices.
- Pile the sliced pork leg over rice, drizzle in a some of the broth (strain and reheat the broth for best results) and serve with pickled mustard greens on the side.
Cowgirl’s khao kha moo might be famous but the best pork leg stew we had in Chiang Mai was at Nok Lae Sukothai Noodle where the meat and broth, and vegetables on the side, were served over noodles or rice. If you want to cook Thai pork leg stew at home, you may cook two pork legs in a pot, serve one over rice and the other with noodles. That way, you get to try both without additional work. You will not likely be serving the knuckles but do keep them on during cooking. The knuckles contain a lot of gelatinous ligaments that melt into the broth to make it richer and give it a delightfully sticky consistency.