Slow cooked, tender, succulent pork hocks… need I say more. The pork falls apart, shredding in your mouth, chunks of fat and skin melt away in a rich delicate manner. It’s a moment of sublime feeling. Hints of cinnamon and star anise dance about on the tongue. The broth is liquid bronze, a subtle sweetness and saltiness as the rice beneath bathes and soaks it up. Chinese broccoli gently simmered in it, still with a fresh crunch and naturally pickled mustard greens with their soft sourness. A hard-boiled egg usually set on the side and there it is… a thing of utter brilliance.
Sitting down at the table nothing can disturb this moment as I help myself to the usual condiments, a chili sauce, raw chilies and raw garlic. Constructing the first bite and I prepare for the inevitability of my eyes rolling back. This is heaven if there ever was one. A plastic stool, a short metal folding table, the bustle of people and traffic and me in my blissful bubble.
Usually my first dish I devour upon return to Thailand and the most recent couple times the last dish before leaving. Arriving in Bangkok while I await my night bus to Chiang Mai I head to the corner of Rambutr and Samsen Rd. For years a lady has been serving this up here (5 at least) and a plate just sets me right after a long flight. It lets my stomach know I’m back and to get ready.
A stall can be found nearly anywhere without even really having to look. Just about any market has a stall or two and quite often one is just randomly placed on the street. There is no real excuse to not trying this at least once. Just look for the mound of pork hock accented by the bright green of the Chinese broccoli, a large wooden butchers block slathered in fatty juices and someone standing behind it with a large clever. You’re here, just grab a stool and enjoy this thing of beauty.
A very well-known stall if you’re having it for the first time is Khao Kha Muu Chang Phueak located at the north gate market every night in Chiang Mai. Look for a lady in a cowgirl hat and the rest is easy.