Pork Floss: The Meaty Chinese Ingredient That Looks Like Cotton Candy

Whether for good or ill, a majority of people love to eat meat, it is a major aspect of most of the world's diet and we like to consume it in almost every way possible fried, grilled, smoked, braised, and baked. Some meat dishes are more basic than others, but one meat dish that is as delicious as it is unique is pork floss. Yes, you read that right: Pork floss. But don't worry, you won't be picking your teeth with it after dinner. 

Pork floss (肉鬆) is a widely beloved ingredient in Chinese cuisine, as reported by the Curated Cook. It's known for being an addictively savory garnish. Pork itself is especially popular in Chinese cuisine and is often eaten in savory meals, but pork floss bridges the gap between salty and sweet in the best possible way. The reason it gained such popularity? Food Network claims that it is versatile! Not only is this kitchen ingredient the perfect balance of flavors, but it can go on practically anything. It is often eaten as a garnish atop many Chinese dishes yet is most commonly paired with congee, a traditional rice porridge.

What is Pork Floss?

Pork floss aka rousong earned its odd name due to its unique texture. Atlas Obscura describes pork floss as a garnish, reminiscent of cotton candy, made of candied pork which is shredded and dehydrated until it achieves the desired fuzzy consistency. For those of you who haven't sunk your teeth into this unique food before, Serious Eats says that when you first put pork floss into your mouth, it will dissolve after a few quick bites, but leaves a delicious salty-sweet taste behind. 

According to Yum of China, pork floss is most commonly bought pre-made at the supermarket, and very few brave souls attempt to make this treat at home. This is because it takes time and patience to make, but it is well worth the wait. Pork floss from home is prepared by boiling pieces of pork with your spices and other ingredients for flavor (ginger, green onion, star anise, sugar, and soy sauce). Once your pork pieces are soft and cooked you can tear your meat into small shreds and stir-fry it with white sesame and sugar. But China Sichuan Food recommends using a bread maker to fry up your pork floss at the end if you have one already because it is much easier.

Nutrition facts and uses

When it comes down to it, pork floss is more about flavor than nutrition. Inlivo claims that while pork floss is a good source of proteins and fiber, it does tend to contain quite a bit of saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. The SF Gate states that a 3.5-ounce serving of pork floss contains 396 calories alone and 46% of your recommended daily protein. Unfortunately, all that saturated fat may harm your health if you indulge in it too regularly. Like most delicious things in life, pork floss is fine to eat in moderation, but should not be overindulged in.

Though it is difficult not to gorge yourself on a product that tastes so good and goes on everything! Pork floss is known to be widely used in quite a few East Asian countries as a topping for rice, tofu, and bread and acts as a unique garnish for sweet foods (via Taste Atlas). It is relatively cheap in some Asian markets which makes it all too easy to add to any of your favorite dishes or to simply eat out of the container like candy.

Variations of Rousong

Pork floss is rousong, but not all rousong is pork floss. You see, rousong is just in reference to dried meat which means that this kind of floss can be made using other proteins like beef or chicken (via The Star Online). In fact, according to Chef Lola's Kitchen beef floss is considered a Northern Nigerian delicacy and is made much in the same way as pork floss but instead uses spices and flavors more commonly enjoyed in Nigerian cooking.

As for pork floss, there are a few kinds you can choose from, each with its own unique characteristic. Curated Cook claims that there are two different kinds of pork floss commonly sold. One is called Pork Fu which is light and airy in texture and flavor, and more reminiscent of spun sugar. The other is called Pork Sung which is darker in flavor and denser in texture. Can't decide which one to get? Buy both and try them side-by-side the only thing that matters is your personal preference, the price and nutrition don't vary.