Thai food isn’t exactly famous for its use of pork, particularly in Phuket where the emphasis is usually on seafood. In fact, pork is mostly just an optional meat for dishes that can also be prepared with beef or chicken. However, there are some standout dishes that can only be made with pork – their unique and delightful flavour depends on it. These are those standouts, which you should absolutely try if you get the chance (and if you like pork, of course).
Pad Krapow Moo Saap
This is a nice and simple one-plate meal, which is actually quite a rarity in Thai cuisine since most meals are meant to be shared here. It features minced pork and a lot of holy basil, stir-fried together with chillies, green beans, soy sauce and a little sugar. It’s served on steamed rice, and the fat from the pork makes an important addition to the flavour. While you can theoretically have this dish made with other meats, most locals and visitors love it most as a pork dish. It’s also often served with a fried egg on top, which you mash up and mix into the meal for added flavour.
A popular street snack, moo ping is effectively a breakfast since you only really see it available in the mornings. It consists of marinated grilled pork on a skewer, usually served with a bag of sticky rice. The marinade contains chopped coriander root, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce and oyster sauce, making for quite a complex flavour. However, it’s the fact that the meat is brushed with coconut milk while it’s grilling that makes this such a moreish snack. It adds a wonderful sweetness to what is ostensibly a savoury breakfast.
Moo hong is a great showcase of the complex mixing of flavours which makes Thai food so famous. Essentially a stew made with pork belly, it blends salty and sweet notes to create an extremely tasty comfort-food-style meal. It’s originally a Southern Thai dish, making it quite popular in Phuket, but is unusual in that it’s not especially spicy. There’s a bit of black peppercorn, but it’s otherwise very mild, particularly for a Southern dish.
Moo palo is mostly just a variant of moo hong, being basically the same recipe with some additional spices. It’s a good one to look out for if you want some genuinely Phuket Thai food, though, as this is a dish with a Chinese heritage, probably arriving in Thailand with the Chinese migrants who arrived in Phuket around the time of the tin mining boom. Noteworthy differences between this and moo hong include the use of Sichuan pepper and hard-boiled eggs, adding unusual flavours and textures to the stew.
Moo Dad Deaw
This is really more of a snack than a meal, and even more so than moo ping is. It started life as a simple method of preserving pork so that it would stay usable for longer, but obviously proved too moreish to resist nibbling on. It consists of strips of pork that are marinated in sweet and salty sauces, sun-dried and then deep-fried. It’s kind of like Thai-style jerky, only less tough.