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By Joss Herd
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To make the pickled carrots, add the rice vinegar to a saucepan over a medium heat with the sugar, fennel seeds, star anise, and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Finely slice the carrots in a mandolin. Remove the pan from the heat, tip in the carrots and stir to coat. Leave to cool completely, then let pickle for at least 30 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the groundnut oil in a wok until smoking hot. Add the minced pork, season with the white pepper and a pinch of salt, then toss until golden and starting to crisp.
Finely slice the spring onions. Add 2 of the chopped spring onions to the pan with the red thai paste and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the stock, and turn down the heat, cooking for a further 20 minutes, or until the stock has evaporated and the pork is tender, cooked and starting to crisp up again.
In a separate pan, heat the rest of the groundnut oil. Add the cube of bread; if it browns in 10 seconds, your oil is hot enough to start frying. Pick the basil leaves, discarding the stalks. In batches, fry the basil leaves for 3 seconds, until they’re translucent and crisp (careful of the hot oil, as it may spit). Remove the crispy leaves with a slotted spoon and leave aside to dry on kitchen paper.
To serve, separate out and place the lettuce leaves on a serving plate, scatter over the pork, pickled carrots, reserved spring onion and the crispy basil leaves. Drizzle with a little of the carrots’ pickling liquid and serve immediately.