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Khao Kha Moo (Thai Braised Pork Leg Recipe)

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This khao kha moo recipe is total comfort food. It’s full of fall-apart tender pork leg, coated in the best sweet and savory sauce you’ll ever taste. The slow braising process allows the pork to become incredibly tender, soaking up all the richness of the broth it simmers in.

Khao kha moo, Thai braised pork leg, with hard-boiled eggs, jasmine rice, and pickled mustard greens.

Serve this Thai braised pork leg dish with steamed jasmine rice, alongside hard-boiled eggs, choy sum, and my spicy vinegar dipping sauce for a traditional meal full of Thai flavors.

To make khao ka moo, you just need Chinese spices like cinnamon and star anise. This dish is a tasty mix of Thai and Chinese flavors, just like the ever-popular Thai-Chinese dishes beef pad see ew and lad na.

What is khao kha moo

Khao kha moo is a classic Thai dish made of slow-braised pork leg cooked with a blend of aromatic spices, including star anise and cinnamon. It’s typically served with jasmine rice and a side of hard-boiled eggs and pickled mustard greens.

Khao kha moo, or khao ka moo translates to rice with pork leg. Khao means rice, kha refers to the pork leg, and moo means pork. Another name for this dish is kha moo palo.

Close-up of khao kha moo, highlighting the tender braised pork leg skin, and a side of jasmine rice and hard-boiled eggs.

Braising and stewing are common cooking methods in Thailand because they make the meat so tender that it practically melts in your mouth. This Thai braised pork leg dish is a common Thai street food, along with the classic khao man gai.

The slow cooking of this dish is a bit of a wait, but trust me, it’s so worth it. And hey, while you’re waiting, you can easily make yourself a side of Thai vegetables stir-fry to go along with it.

I think braised pork leg is perfect for meal prep, as the pork tastes even better the next day. Plus, it’s not spicy, so it’s a perfect meal for the whole family any day of the week.

Thai braised pork leg

Braising pork might sound difficult, but it’s actually quite easy. I’m here to guide you with step-by-step images, from browning the pork to toasting the spices for extra fragrance and prepping the greens.

Khao kha moo on a spoon topped with chili vinegar sauce, and a backdrop of a blurred out pork leg dish.
A bite of khao kha moo with a drizzle of spicy vinegar sauce.

And don’t worry if you don’t have a pork leg – if you have some pork belly, you can make Thai braised pork belly or tom khem (a Laotian dish) for a variation.

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients for khao kha moo recipe labeled: five spice powder, dried mushrooms, cinnamon, star anise, light soy and dark soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, water, oil, salt, pork leg, and palm sugar.
  • Pork leg (kha moo) – The pork leg becomes incredibly tender and flavorful as it slowly braises, soaking up the rich mix of spices and sauces.
  • Dark soy sauce – Adds a molasses-like sweetness and a dark color to the sauce.
  • Light soy sauce – Gives the pork leg a salty, umami-like flavor.
  • Palm sugar – Palm sugar adds a mild, caramel-like sweetness, distinct from white and brown sugar.
  • Salt – Enhances all the flavors in the dish.
  • Oil – Needed for frying the spice paste. Use a neutral oil like canola oil or vegetable oil.
  • Coriander root, garlic, black peppercorns – This is a typical Thai spice blend, perfect for infusing the pork with fresh flavors and aroma.
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms – Braised pork leg with mushroom is always delicious. Feel free to add more or less than the suggested amount.
  • Chinese five spice powder – This blend of spices is called “pong palo” in Thai, it adds complex flavor to the sauce. You can find it at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
  • Star anise, cinnamon stick – They add a warm aroma with a hint of the Chinese cuisine.
  • Water – The base of the braising liquid blends all the spices into a broth that makes the pork leg perfectly tender.

Optional

Ingredients for khao kha moo sides labeled: hard-boiled eggs, pickled mustard greens, and choy sum.
  • Pickled mustard greens
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Choy sum – Substitutable with Chinese broccoli (gai lan) and bok choy.

Cooking instructions

Frying pork leg in a wok.

Step 1: Warm a generous amount of oil in a big pot or wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork leg. Cook for 5 minutes, turning it often to brown all sides evenly. This crucial step helps keep the skin intact later when it simmers.

Ground garlic, coriander root, and black peppercorns in mortar.

Step 2: Use a mortar and pestle to mash the garlic, black peppercorns, and coriander root into a rough paste.

Fried herbs and spices in a pot.

Step 3: Place a large pot on your stove top and turn the heat to medium – toss the ground spices, cinnamon, star anise, and mushrooms that have been soaked beforehand into the pot. Stir them for about 30 seconds until they release their aroma.

Herbs and spices with sauce in a pot.

Step 4: Add palm sugar to the pot, simmer and stir until it starts to caramelize.

Pork leg simmering in a dark broth.

Step 5: Pour in water, add five spice powder, and pour in light and dark soy sauce. Add salt and the pork leg. Cover the pot. Let everything simmer for 3 hours on low heat.

Khao kha moo ready in a pot.

Step 6: Two and a half hours in, you can slip in some boiled eggs if you like. They’ll get a nice brown tint from the broth. When the full 3 hours are up, it’s time to take the pot off the stove. Serve right away with some steamed jasmine rice. If you’re adding veggies, go to the next step.

Blanched choy sum in a pot.

Step 7: Blanch your greens – choy sum, Chinese broccoli, or bok choy. Just dip them in boiling water, drain well, and they’re ready to serve. Pair with pickled mustard greens and enjoy!

Kitchenware

  • Mortar and pestle or food processor
  • Cutting board and a sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Large pot or Dutch oven
  • Ladle for serving

Tips for making kha moo palo

Cook low and slow: Allow the pork leg to cook on low heat for a long time until it’s perfectly tender.

Skim the fat: After braising, skim off any excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid for a cleaner sauce.

Taste-test: Before serving, taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your preference.

Pork leg: If you’re not able to fry your pork leg before braising, you can also grill it until each side is browned.

Khao ka moo Serving ideas

Serve with a side of jasmine rice to soak up the rich sauce. Hard-boiled eggs are optional in this khao kha moo recipe, but highly recommended. Add a side of blanched Chinese broccoli, bok choy, or choy sum. Don’t forget the pickled miustard greens.

Pair with my vinegar dipping sauce for extra spice, and a refreshing drink like green Thai tea is always delicious.

Storing and reheating leftovers

To store leftovers, let them cool to room temperature and then transfer them into an airtight container. It’ll keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freezing: You can freeze your leftovers in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.

Reheating: Reheat over low heat on the stove, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you can use the microwave.

Frequently asked questions

Is khao kha moo unhealthy?

It depends on the portion size and the ratio of the fat to the meat content of the pork. Include plenty of vegetables to make it a nutritious meal.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

No, light soy sauce contains wheat.

Can I make this in a slow cooker?

Yes, the low and slow cooking method tenderizes the pork leg perfectly. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

Authentic Thai pork recipes

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5 from 2 votes

Khao Kha Moo (Thai Braised Pork Leg Recipe)

Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 2 hour Total Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 5

Description

This recipe for khao kha moo, Thai braised pork leg, is traditional and perfect for every home cook. Serve with a side of jasmine rice, greens, and hard-boiled eggs.

Ingredients

Optional

Instructions

  1. Warm a generous amount of oil in a big pot or wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork leg. Cook for 5 minutes, turning it often to brown all sides evenly. This crucial step helps keep the skin intact later when it simmers.

  2. Use a mortar and pestle to mash the garlic, black peppercorns, and coriander root into a rough paste.

  3. Place a large pot on your stove top and turn the heat to medium – toss the ground spices, cinnamon, star anise, and mushrooms that have been soaked beforehand into the pot. Stir them for about 30 seconds until they release their aroma.

  4. Add palm sugar to the pot, simmer and stir until it starts to caramelize.

  5. Pour in water, add five spice powder, and pour in light and dark soy sauce. Add salt and the pork leg. Cover the pot. Let everything simmer for 3 hours on low heat.

  6. Two and a half hours in, you can slip in some boiled eggs if you like. They’ll get a nice brown tint from the broth. When the full 3 hours are up, it’s time to take the pot off the stove. Serve right away with some steamed jasmine rice. If you’re adding veggies, go to the next step.

  7. Blanch your greens – choy sum, Chinese broccoli, or bok choy. Just dip them in boiling water, drain well, and they’re ready to serve. Pair with pickled mustard greens and enjoy!

Note

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Choy sum: Substitutable with Chinese broccoli (gai lan) and bok choy.
Keywords: khao kha moo, khao ka moo, Thai braised pork leg
About Author

Praew

I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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