I have a new favorite recipe. Have you noticed every recipe I post is a new favorite, lol? That’s because I don’t post something I don’t love, but this one for Waterfall Pork Mu Nam Tok I love love love! I happy dance love it and it’s going into my rotation. As soon as I get more pork, lol!
Not only is this insanely good but it’s so fast, simple and versatile and other than the pork uses pretty much all pantry ingredients. It’s also one of those recipes that’s so forgiving if you have to fudge a bit on the ingredients, it’s still going to be outstanding. Ya gotta love that!
About Waterfall Pork Mu Nam Tok:
Waterfall Pork (mu nam tok) can also be made with Beef (nuea yang nam tok) when served like this is kind of a “salad” from Southeast Asia. The descriptive name is explained in different ways, but Wikipedia indicates it’s from the juices running off the meat as it’s grilled.
So picture this, tender and juicy and highly marinated pork (or beef) so delicious on its own, with deep dark, rich flavors all accented by the smoky grilled taste (if you do it outdoors…and all your neighbors are gonna go crazy with the smell wafting over) and then accented by the fiery hot dipping sauce!
You’re gonna think that sauce is too, too hot and it is on its own (maybe that’s why it’s called Cry Sauce or Crying Sauce and sometimes Crying Tiger Sauce) and it is, but it’s hot and spicy sweet and once that pork (or beef) is dipped it’s a play on flavor that’s so outstanding it’s addictive. And yeah, that was a run-on sentence for sure but I can’t rave enough about it! It’s like I don’t even want to take a breath as I tell you about it and I sure didn’t when I ate it!
Magic really goes next level when combined with the sweet-sour of the Quick Asian Pickled Cabbage I made to go with this dish and posted the other day! The flavors of those briny juices of the cabbage along with the somewhat sticky pork (or beef) accented by the Crying Tiger Sauce jump and roll over each other, each distinct but still melding into hot, sour, sweet, spicy & cool deliciousness.
What to Serve with Waterfall Pork Mu Nam Tok:
If there was ever a way to get your takeout fix this fast and easy recipe (not counting the marinade time) has got to be it. Any littles are gonna scarf it down with the rice and adults are going to go cray cray over the full complement with the sauce and the pickled veggies and you, my friend, are going to look like a hero! 🙂
Traditionally, this meal would be served with sticky rice (I made my Perfect Instant Pot Rice) and long beans. Hey, right now we’re in the middle of President Trump’s 15 Day Plan To Slow the Spread so I’m making do with ingredients I have. It was marvelous with a few herbs from my pot (a little cilantro, a little parsley) instead of the traditional array of herbs you might find (mint for sure) along with some cherry tomatoes and a little bell pepper for the salad. Don’t sweat the herbs if you don’t have them. Leave them out and if you have a little green onion, use that.
This recipe is not full-on traditional, anyway. There are a couple of things that upped the whole game on this recipe and unabashedly lean it toward the American side of the spectrum. The bit of sugar that aids in the deep caramelization, the vinegar makes the marinade a little intense but it’s really the long marinade (4 hours at a minimum, two days is so much better) that’s a total game-changer.
The Game Plan:
This is a super fast and easy meal. The Quick Asian Pickled Cabbage should be made ahead. The pork needs to marinade and just takes a few minutes to get ready. When ready to cook, preheat the grill, toss together the sauce, gather any veggies and herbs you’re using. Start the rice first and grill the pork.
- Make Quick Asian Pickled Cabbage: 15 minutes. Up to a week or two ahead and at least 4 hours marinade.
- Make Toasted Rice: 10 minutes. Optional but use for full-on experience, make any time. It keeps for weeks to months.
- Marinade Pork: 10 minutes. 4 hours to 2 days ahead (the longer the better.)
- Make Crying Tiger Sauce: 10 minutes. Make it up to 3 or 4 days ahead or right before.
- Preheat Grill: Before cooking, as needed for your grill inside or out.
- Vegetables, Herbs: Prepare as grill preheats or as meat cooks.
- Make Rice: 15 to 20 minutes. Start before grilling. It will be done when meat comes off the grill.
- Grill Meat: 10 minutes.
The Pork for Waterfall Pork Mu Nam Tok:
There’s nothing to this pork in the recipe. There are a handful of ingredients in the marinade. Just mix, add your pork and refrigerate, the longer the better, up to a full two days. Just make sure to use pork with some good marbling.
I used boneless country ribs which turned out tender and juicy but if you can’t lay your hands on that try some pork shoulder preferably from an area that’s well marbled but try to trim them of any heavy fat. The key is to cook this just right and not overcook. Grill hot and pretty fast, turning as needed to get good marks and caramelization.
If you decide to go with beef, a good, well-marbled cut is what you want and will hold up to that long marinade. If you decide to use a good, expensive steak, you will probably want to showcase that beef; marinate a little less, closer to the four-hour mark and keep it on the rare side.
The Toasted Rice:
There’s toasted rice powder in this recipe and it’s used to sprinkle over the pork and in the Crying Tiger Sauce. It adds a little crunchy fun aspect and a distinct flavor. It’s a component in Opal Thai Food’s Pork Larb, too, which I make often so I keep it on hand.
Toasted Rice is super easy to make and extra keeps in a jar or heavy Ziploc for months but if you are in a hurry and need to shortcut, don’t sweat it. It’s one of those “you probably won’t miss it if you haven’t had it before kind of things.” If you’re looking for the full-on experience, tho, you’ll want it.
Saving Money on Waterfall Pork Mu Nam Tok:
For specifically Asian ingredients, watch around the Chinese New Year, which varies every year (it begins on the day the new moon appears between January 21st and February 20th) for often unadvertised sales. If you live near an Asian market, that’s the place to shop for those ingredients (and others) at a low.
If you’re not familiar with Country Style Ribs, they’re an extremely economical cut of meat, and they often go on sale in larger “family packs.” Many times when I buy items in family packs, I’ll divide up in portions suitable for my family and freeze. Country Style Ribs are usually cooked low and slow but not overcooking these ensures that they remain juicy and moist.
Waterfall Pork Mu Nam Tok
You may wish to make more than you’ll think you need!
- Total Time: 20 minutes + marinade and grill preheat
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Pork Main Dish
- Method: Grill
- Cuisine: Thai
For Waterfall Pork Mu Nam Tok:
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons dark (or regular) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless country ribs or another well-marbled cut of pork, about 3/4 to 1” thick
- For serving, toasted rice, Quick Asian Pickled Cabbage and Cry Sauce, cilantro & mint, sticky or white rice
For the Toasted Rice Powder:
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup rice
For Waterfall Pork Mu Nam Tok:
Combine garlic, soy, brown sugar, oil, sesame oil, oyster sauce, vinegar, black pepper and white pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add pork, seal bag, and turn pork to coat. Chill at least 4 hours and up to two days; the longer the better.
Prepare grill, medium-high heat and lightly oil grill grates. Remove pork from marinade and grill, turning occasionally, until pork is cooked through, caramelized and dark in spots, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Let rest several minutes before serving.
In a dry skillet, stirring often, toast a little rice until golden brown over medium-low. Take your time moving it off heat and shaking if it gets too hot, then returning to heat. Cool. Pulverize (but not quite to a powder) in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or food processor. Alternatively, add to a Ziploc and crush. Any excess keeps in a tightly sealed jar for weeks.
Serve with cilantro, mint, and rice powder along with Asian Pickled Cabbage and Cry Sauce.
Keywords: Asian, Bargain Meal of the Week, Brown Sugar, country style ribs, Oyster Sauce, Pork, Pork Shoulder Recipe, rice vinegar, Soy, Thai, Toasted Rice, Vinegar.