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.
At Nok Lae Sukothai Noodle, the pork leg stew was so good that we wondered why the heck tour guides prefer to take tourists to Cowgirl’s place. It’s located right across Art in Paradise and it’s not a fancy place. It’s rather small but it’s always packed with locals which is always a good sign. If the locals eat patronize an establishment, we’re in. If the customers are mostly white people, we pass. Restaurants and eateries that cater to white tourists dilute local flavors to make their food more palatable to foreigners. And that just won’t do for us. We prefer the real thing.
So, because we couldn’t get a table, we did take-out. Alex and I were so enraptured with our pork and noodles that we promised ourselves we’d go back to Nok Lae Sukothai Noodle and try the pork leg stew over rice next time. Alas, the oppotunity was lost as we discovered two more restaurants a few meters from our Airbnb apartment, and we just wanted to try as many as we could.
But we never forgot the pork leg stew at Nok Lae Sukothai Noodle, and we tried to recreate it at home. Two versions. One, with noodles and broth. The second, over rice with pickled mustard greens on the side.
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.
Thai Pork Leg Stew (Khao Kha Moo)
- 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.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.