Thailand – Moo Ping

She’s there in Chang Mai right across from the night bazaar. She’ll be down a dusty alley, and you’ll smell the roasted glory wafting toward you. She’s around 65 a always smiling. She sits alone behind a tiny grill with an umbrella and carefully threads the marinated pork onto bamboo skewers, while making sure you are learning new words in Thai “Sa-wa-di-cop” she encourages me to try, ‘this means hello’.
Her fire is low and red. You can hear the quick hiss of the grill searing in the flavor of these delightful little piggy sticks.

When they are golden and toasty she pulls them off the little grill ‘moooo -ping’ I have to say it if I want it. “Moo-ping” I try. No, I’m not saying it right….’moooo -ping’ that’s better.
Basically I’m saying grilled pork; but my friend its more than that. It’s the taste of sweet coconut, and charred sugars, and a glaze that draws the smoke of the grill into your happy mouth.

My advice: show up around ten in the morning and be first in line. They go quick, and when they’re gone -they’re gone.

So after many days of seeking out my little pork wizard she taught me how to bring these sweet piggy sticks back home.
Now its your turn:
say Mooo -ping”

4 tsp sugar
5 cloves garlic (minced)
1/8 cup fish sauce
1 cup soy sauce
2 cups cream of coconut
1-1/2 pounds of pork loin or country style ribs
1 pound salt pork (or thick cut bacon)
Bamboo Skewers

For marinade: Mix all ingredients above -except pork. Set aside 1/2 cup of marinade to baste with later.

Then slice up pork into cubes 1″x1″x2″.

Beat your cubes of pork until tender -a couple of whacks each should do. Then add the tenderized pork to your marinade.

Take the salt pork (or
Thick cut bacon) and slice
It into pieces 1/4″x1/4″x2″ and chuck them into the same bowl of marinade as well.

*Leave these in the fridge at least 8-12 hours… So worth the wait.

Now then, its the next day, and no doubt you’ve had visions of piggy sticks dancing in your head all night. So, let’s get to it!

Moisten your bamboo skewers by sticking them down into a glass of water, or lay them in a baking dish of water, and let them soak for at least an hour before grilling (this way they don’t burn over the grill later).

Your skewers are soaking, so go ahead and kick up your grill (it’s been missing you for way too long) and be prepared to bask in some nostalgia as you send up your springtime smoke offering.
*Note: If using a gas grill, wrap some of your favorite wood chips up in a piece of tin foil, and place it over your fire just before adding your skewers. This way you’ll get some of that smokey flavor into the meat.

Melt a stick of butter and add the marinade that we set aside last night. Once its all melted together, turn the heat off and let it rest.

WMeanwhile with your fire blazing away,
Pull out your marinating masterpiece from the fridge, and prep your skewers. You’ll thread the pork onto your pre-soaked skewers, alternating with salt pork: about two inches of marinated pork, then one slice of your salt pork, then two inches marinated pork etc. Assemble each skewer of Moo Ping in the same way; alternating cubes of pork, then slices of salt pork(or thick cut bacon), and set them aside.

Creating layers like this on your skewers is how we make a super tasty play between textures. The sweet tender coconut balanced by the savory salt pork. The salt pork will also render fat as it crisps up, and sending intermittent bacon-beacons to your smiling brain. So, stinkin’ good!

Now that you have prepped all your coconut-laden piggy sticks, At this point your coals should be white and ashy -perfect. Add whatever wood chips you normally enjoy to the fire now. And for you gas goers, it’s time to toss in your tin foil wood chip bundle-of-love.

Lay the skewers on the grill and enjoys the hissss 🙂 I try to keep the handles of the skewers facing me to help keep them from burning.

Take your time me friend -this can be pure meditation.

This is what set that little lady apart. She kept smiling, never rushing, and made sure each one was perfectly golden brown. Baste well. The sugars from the marinade, and the solids from the butter will caramelize to give you an un-real glaze. Imagine how each time you baste you deepen the complexity of flavor. Keep the fire low and slow.

Turn each skewer as needed individually -every five to ten minutes. Repeat this until they are golden brown on all sides. The Salt pork should be crisp around the edges, and the cubes of pork should be tender and moist.
There is only one way to be certain of quality -be sure to snack as you go. Its for the good of everyone involved.
This is a recipe that you will show off for a long time.

Serve only to the worthy 😉


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