This simple stir-fry easily made its way into my list of favorites since I’ve sampled it from a trip to Thailand. In fact, I’ve tried recreating the recipe for countless times since then, and in all modesty, I can say that except for the ridiculous amount of chili that they would locally use, this version is pretty close to the real thing.
They would typically prepare this dish with several possible choices for protein from chicken, to pork, beef, and seafood and all do turn out excellent. I’ll be using pork for this recipe, which you could ignore totally, going with your own choice of meat without any changes in the cooking procedure.
Given the short sautee time of this dish, you may want to carefully choose your meat. Tough cuts meant for stewing, like pork shoulder or beef round would not be as ideal as tender cuts such as the tenderloin that we’re using.
Also worth taking into consideration would be the size of your cuts, keeping them relatively small to cook through given the brief frying time, yet substantial enough to keep them succulent in the end.
Lightly season your meat with some salt and some pepper if you wish.
Get some neutral-flavored oil smoking hot in a wok – make sure you do. The extreme heat will make the searing process really quick, trapping all the meat’s moisture inside just where it should be. If cooking in larger volumes, it would be ideal to work in small batches to keep the temperature of your wok from dropping significantly.
A minute or two at high heat would be enough to get those small cuts of meat cooked just right. Time to add in the remaining ingredients in the order I’ve detailed in the instructions.
The flavor of garlic is meant to stand-out in this dish and using more could only make it better. Just make sure to get them finely minced, and more importantly in uniformly-sized bits. An uneven mince would translate to uneven cooking, leaving the smaller bits to burn and turn bitter while the big ones remain fairly raw and tasting too pungent.
This would also be the time to add in the chopped chili. Sauteeing chili in hot oil releases a very distinct peppery flavor which is really more aromatic than it is spicy. Don’t worry about adding in too much chili. We’ll be adding in some sugar, and that sweetness would level off some of the heat.
As the garlic caramelizes and softens up a bit, it’s time to add in the pineapples and onions. Adding them too early would introduce moisture into the oil and keep the garlic from frying perfectly.
Time for our seasoning. It’s pretty much up to your own taste at this point, adding more or less sugar and fish sauce. A tablespoon of each would be a good starting point.
The greens now go in. True to authentic preparations of this dish, I was lucky to find some water spinach at the market. I’m guessing a more common variety of spinach would also turn out good.
Once your greens have wilted perfectly, turn the heat off, and stir in a good handful of fresh Thai basil leaves. It will add a very distinct fragrance to the dish and further cut down the heat from the chili.