หมูฮ้อง Moo Hong
This dish comes from Phuket and neighbouring areas in the south of Thailand, originally brought to the area by Hokkien immigrants from Fujian, China some time in the 1800s.
It is a relatively simple dish compared to much of Thai cuisine, but is deliciously comforting. The black pepper, garlic and coriander root bring a complexity and warmth to contrast with the sweetness and richness from coconut sugar, dark soy and fatty pork.
Total time 2-2½ hours
Prep time 15 minutes
Cooking time 1½-2 hours
Serves 4, or 6 if eaten with other dishes
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 5 coriander roots, cleaned and roughly chopped
- 1.5 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- ½ tsp flaky salt
- 3 tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp Thai thin soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Thai black soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
- 1 tbsp pork fat or cooking oil
- 1kg pork belly with skin, not too fatty
- 5 whole star anise
- 1 stick cassia cinnamon
- 2 tbsp picked coriander leaves
- The shaoxing wine is optional, don’t go out of your way to get this.
- Thai soy sauces are quite different from Chinese, but the dish will still taste good if you substitute Chinese light soy and dark soy for the Thai thin soy and black soy, respectively. Do not use Japanese soy sauce.
- Coconut sugar is commonly used these days, but brown cane sugar would have originally been used, so feel free to substitute for muscovado or some other dark brown sugar.
- Coriander roots are easily bought in Asian supermarkets, most often still attached to the stems. You can freeze whatever you don’t use. If you can’t find coriander roots, leave them out - stems are not a good substitute.
- Moo Hong is delicious on its own over rice, or with some stir-fried greens, but like most Thai food, it is best when paired with 2 or 3 other dishes, to have a meal that is balanced in flavours.
1. Cut the pork belly in to 4cm cubes.
2. In a stone pestle and mortar, pound the garlic, coriander root and peppercorns with salt, to form a coarse paste. Most of the pepper should be crushed, with just a few whole corns remaining. Alternatively, blend the ingredients in a small food processor
3. Add this paste to a large bowl, along with the pork, coconut sugar, soy sauces and rice wine. Massage the seasonings into the pork until it is well coated.
4. Heat a pan big enough to fit all the pork on medium heat. When hot, add the pork fat or oil, star anise and cinnamon. Fry the spices for a minute or two until fragrant.
5. Add the marinated pork and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pork has completely changed colour and the garlic and pepper becomes fragrant.
6. Add enough water to almost cover the pork, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 1 ½ hours uncovered.
7. Stir the pot well from time to time. It is done when the pork fat is very soft and the skin can be cut with a spoon. The broth should be reduced and thickened but not syrupy. Add a little water if needed along the way.
8. Serve on a plate or shallow bowl, spoon over the broth and top with the coriander leaves. Eat warm, with jasmine rice.