Thailand's Moo Yong Sandwich Makes Pork Floss The Star

Sandwiches take on many forms, and every culinary culture has adapted these versatile handhelds to suit local ingredients and cooking methods. In Thailand, a unique adaptation called the moo yong sandwich is named for its star ingredient: pork floss. A popular delicacy in China and Southeast Asia, pork floss is soy-marinated, dried pork shoulder that's been shredded and teased into a cotton-candy-like mass.

Commonly served in buns, rice balls, and the classic pan-Asian rice porridge dish, congee, pork floss offers an intense umami flavor and a unique airy, fluffy texture that melts in your mouth. Moo yong sandwiches are triple-decker creations that layer packaged sliced bologna or ham, pork floss, and a Miracle Whip-like custard of egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and turmeric to give it an orange hue.

The sandwich is thick, filling, and comforting, with an ultra-rich flavor profile of umami and salt from the ham and pork floss complemented by the sweet, tangy, and buttery custard. The tender deli meat, soft, pillowy white bread, creamy custard, and airy pork floss make for a fairly one-dimensional texture profile akin to a peanut butter and jelly or pimento cheese sandwich. However, its decadent, stick-to-your-bones heft and savory richness more than compensate.

Where to get it in Thailand and beyond

Thai food is often enjoyed out, and people in Thailand eat moo yong sandwiches as a late-night snack to soak up a night of drinking. You'll find the sandwich sold packaged at convenience stores like 7-Eleven or freshly made at night market stands. It's not as widespread as other street-food favorites, nor is it sold as a breakfast or lunch item at restaurants, but the humble sandwich is gaining traction on social media.

In large, multicultural American metropolitan areas with large Thai populations like Los Angeles and Chicago, Thai grocery stores and markets sell moo yong sandwiches, marketing them more as a breakfast sandwich. Furthermore, they can come elaborated with other ingredients like chili oil, scallions, boiled egg, and slices of American or cheddar cheese. Some foodies recommend toasting the bread for a crunchy textural contrast. Others add dijon or spicy mustard to the custard instead of lime juice for a balance of tang and heat.

For vegetarians and non-pork eaters, you can make the moo yong sandwich with fish floss or shredded tofu. Other recipes offer a deconstructed version of the custard by simply slathering the bread with mayonnaise then pouring a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk over the filling before assembling the sandwich.