Khao kha moo (ข้าวขาหมู) is one of the most famous and popular foods in Thailand, and one that you will almost never find outside of Thailand. There are different variations of the same dish, but the essential ingredient is pork leg boiled in water which is seasoned for hours until tender and then served over rice accompanied by an egg which has been cooked in the same water as the pork.
Soy sauce, chilli, ginger, vinegar, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, coriander, star anise, Chinese five spice, and palm sugar are all ingredients you can typically expect to be added to the water in which the pork is stewed in varying quantities depending upon which restaurant or stall in Thailand you eat it at. Some places serve better khao kha moo than others and Thai people are known to travel long distances to buy this dish from the restaurant or stall which makes the version that they like best.
Accompaniments to Khao Kha Moo
Like many Thai dishes, the emphasis is often as much on what goes with the dish as much as the dish itself. Typically the dish is served with pickled green mustard and a slightly vinegary chilli sauce (as pictured above in the glass jar on the table). The pork meat and egg is sometimes served dry over rice and sometimes it is served in a separate bowl with some of the seasoned water in which the pork is cooked.
Where to eat Khao Kha Moo
Khao kha moo is typically served in specialist restaurants or stall which also serve other rice and meat dishes such as khao man gai and khao moo daeng. Khao kha moo shops are pretty much everywhere in Thailand and you can spot these places because they are the ones with cooked chicken and ducks hanging inside a glass container by a food preparation area. Khao kha moo is typically a morning and lunch time dish so you need to head out early in the day if you want to eat it. The normal practice is for the pork leg to be cooked early in the morning and then eaten throughout the day. The meat doesn’t keep well so just enough is cooked to meet demand and normally sells out by mid afternoon, and the places selling this dish close up for the day ready for another start the next morning.
Super size your Khao Kha Moo
Typically a plate of khao kha moo costs 40 to 50 THB depending on where you buy it. The portions are normally smaller than the portion size you might be used to in Western Europe and North America. People in Thailand tend to eat lots of smaller plates and snack throughout the day, rather than 3 big meals, and the portions sizes reflect this. However, you can order a big plate by saying ‘pee-set‘ which means special in Thai. If you ask for pee-set you will get more meat and egg for an additional 10 baht, and the portion size becomes more like what you might expect in Western Europe.