A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

How To Make: Moo Waan

Posted date:  May 31, 2006

I’ve had some free time lately, and as a result have been working like mad on my book. It will be one in a series called Flavours of the Street, of which Flavours of the Street: Turkey is the only one to have been published so far. Mine will focus on the food of Southern Thailand and is supposed to be finished by August…

Anyway, on a more positive note, I’m going to start posting some of the recipes I’m working on here. Would really appreciate it if people made them and gave me feedback as to the clarity of the instuctions, taste, whatever. I’m starting with what is probably the easiest recipe in the whole book: Moo Waan, sweet pork belly. All you need is four ingredients and about one hour. The important thing with this recipe is to use good quality ingredients, especially concerning the palm sugar. I was lucky enough to have some excellent stuff from Phetburi, a province known for its sugar.

Unfortunately I don’t have the usual step-by-step illustrations here, but will try to do so in the future.

Sweet Pork Belly Muu Waan
(Serves 4)

Pork belly (skin, fat and meat) 500 g
Cooking oil 1 Tbsp
Palm sugar 5 Tbsp
Fish sauce 2 tsp, or to taste

Wash pork and cut into bite size pieces. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch pork for 5 seconds. Drain and set aside.

In a large wok over med-high heat, add oil, followed by palm sugar and fish sauce. Stir mixture until the sugar has melted and has combined with the fish sauce to form a thick sauce.

Add pork to sugar mixture, stir to combine, and reduce heat to as low as possible. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until pork is meltingly soft and sugar is dark and caramelized, at least one hour.

Serve hot with rice as part of a southern Thai meal.

6 Comments for How To Make: Moo Waan

MMMMM…bacon! I had some unbelievable pork belly not to long ago, and have been wanting to make it, and this looks like a good place to start. It looks great!

Well, kind of like bacon! If you’re going to attempt it, be sure to buy the pork belly that has meat, fat and skin (in Thai they call it “moo saam chan”, three layers of pork), and don’t be afraid to braise it for a really long time, until it’s very soft.

Wow, I am looking forward to trying out your Thai street food recipes. Thanks for including us in the fun! And your first dish looks delicious….If I could offer a small editing suggestion from the start? I assume your goal in writing the book is to encourage readers to try out your recipes (rather than just, say writing a travel book with recipes as a sidebar) — then you have to “sell” us the recipe. That is, you need to tell me why I want to make this fabulous dish: start each recipe with a little blurb describing the dish familiar terms (just look at the comments here — the first note is an attempt to relate the dish to the more familiar bacon), by ease of preparation (which you have done here, but sometimes difficulty of prep is the attraction), by fitting it into a meal (could I serve this a first course?), etc. Decide who your reader is — novice, Thai-head, chef? — then explain the dish enough so that reader can understand what it is (I have lived and travelled throughout Asia, but I don’t know what this dish is) — and, of course, want to buy the book!

Can’t wait for more.

Michele: I agree with your suggestion; unfortunately I have to follow the format that has already been established for this series, which does not have those helpful “pre-recipe” descriptions. I like recipes that have these as well; perhaps I can convince them to include it?


I had some left over pork belly sitting in the freezer from when our roommate’s mother made a bunch of Thai dishes for a party. I got a chance at that time to help by running the wok while her mother tossed in ingredients. It was a real education in Thai cooking first hand, and gave me confidence in cooking Thai cuisine. Not knowing what to do with the pork belly this time around, I Googled until found this recipe and decided to give it a go. I went to the local Asian market to find palm sugar, and I’m glad I did! After tasting just a bit of the raw palm sugar convinced me that using brown sugar would have never yielded the same results, and I encourage anyone thinking of giving this recipe a try to get the real deal. The palm sugar has a very floral quality to it that you’ll never ever get from any kind of cane or beet sugar. Once it caramelizes the taste is out of this world!

[…] outside. But it was covered in this ridiculous sweet sauce. The concept I’m sure, came from moo waan (sweet pork). But it didn’t have the depth of the flavour it should have. A moo waan is […]

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