Rice and pork


After all these years in Thailand I've still never really taken to the Thai breakfast. Jok, pureed rice soup, is about as delicious as the description sounds. Paa thong ko, deep-fried bits of dough typically dipped into crap coffee is a nightmare waiting to happen. And at home Thais generally tend to eat the previous night's leftovers with rice. So when traveling to other countries in SE Asia I always keep an eye open for interesting breakfasts, and invariably I'm impressed: crispy roti and sweet teh tarik in Malaysia and Singapore; a steaming bowl of mohinga (a fish-based noodle soup) in Myanmar; and in Cambodia, rice and pork.

Known in Khmer as bai sach chrouk (literally "rice pork"), this dish is more or less as simple as the name sounds, but is much more delicious. There are two divergent schools of bai sach chrouk. Proper restaurants, invariably Chinese in origin, tend to deep fry their pork and serve it with sides of a porky broth and a sauce similar to a sweet Vietnamese dipping sauce (illustrated above). Preferable, in my opinion at least, are the more "Cambodian" places where after being marinated in soy sauce and palm sugar (and apparently sometimes garlic and coconut milk), the thin slices of pork are grilled over coals:


The result is sweeter and smokier than the deep-fried version. This kind of bai sach chrouk tends also to be served with a small dish of lightly pickled veggies, and is generally served outdoors, at makeshift stalls.

Regardless of the ethnicity of the vendor, all bai sach chrouk is served topped with heaps of chopped green onion, and is served over broken rice that, if you're lucky, has been cooked in broth, as shown in this pic:


For a more detailed take on the dish, proceed to Phnomenon.