Grilled Pork Neck (Ko Mu Yang คอหมูย่าง)

kor moo yaang grilled pork neck
Should it surprise anyone that pork neck [1] or collar is one of the favorite cuts among the Thai? Blessed with just the right amount of lean meat, muscle, and fat, pork neck is so flavorful that I’m tempted to say that you could throw a completely unseasoned piece of it on the barbie, and the result would be quite good.

Okay, so that might be a stretch, but if you have tasted a perfectly-grilled piece of pork from the areas around the face and the shoulder, you know it’s not a major stretch.

For this reason, I prefer to keep things very simple for this particular dish, leaving out even what I consider to be the essential marinade ingredients, namely garlic, peppercorns, and cilantro roots. The dipping sauce, jaew (RTGS: jaeo), is already intense in flavor that the pork doesn’t need to be elaborately seasoned at all. The only thing I insist on when it comes to the marinade is the addition of palm or brown sugar. It’s a personal preference. Sugar increases the caramelization on the surface of the meat when it’s grilled, and I love the crispy, slightly-charred bits.

Grilled pork neck with Jaew can be served as an appetizer; it can also be served as an entrée with hot-off-the-splatter-guard sticky rice or plain steamed jasmine rice.

[1] The porcine terminology can be confusing. When in doubt, please know that as long as it says pork neck, collar, jowl, shoulder, or butt on the package, you can’t go wrong (these are not necessarily all the same, mind you, but all of them do the job nicely — some better than others). However, for your edification, I decided to draft this highly technical and complicated map showing where to locate pork neck. This is the result of years and years of observing domestic pigs and wild boars in their natural habitat.

Afraid that the level of sophistication of the graphic and the depth of my hog knowledge demonstrated therein would intimidate some readers, I’ve asked my trusted expert, Bob del Grosso, to put it all in layman term for you. According to Bob, in the US, pork neck and pork butt are synonymous. There is a misunderstanding going around that the neck and and the jowl are the same thing, but that is not the case. The jowl is a triangular cut that tapers from ahead of the shoulder, under the eye, in the direction of the snout. Think of it as a “cheek,” says Bob. Some of the other names for the butt are Boston butt, coppa (Italian), and échine de porc (French).

kor moo yang grilled pork shoulder

Thai Grilled Pork Neck (Ko Mu Yang คอหมูย่าง)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish, Appetizer, Meat
Serves: 4
  • 2 lbs pork neck, cut into wide slabs about ½-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons grated palm sugar (or 1 tablespoon brown sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey, brandy, or rum (optional)
  • A recipe of Jaew
  1. Mix everything together in a mixing bowl, cover, and refrigerate for anywhere between 2 to 6 hours. Grill. Slice. Serve with Jaew.


14 Responses to Grilled Pork Neck (Ko Mu Yang คอหมูย่าง)

  1. noodlenthread May 3, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    this looks so delicious. the dipping sauce, ah. and i love seeing those fat on the pork. yum!

  2. Dorrie May 3, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    Another favorite of mine, specially the nam jim jaew. I need more of this than of pork or beef 🙂

    I regret that I can only vote one single time for you – you deserve a YES for each of your posts!

  3. Kathy Alexander May 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    While living in Thailand my friend introduced me to this dish it quickly became one of my favorites. Keeping it simple is the key. I was pleased to see it represented in your blog. Can’t wait to make it!

  4. pigpigscorner May 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    That dipping sauce looks so potent and delicious!

  5. Cinnamon and Truffle May 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Seriously, that photo of the grilled pork and sauce has made my mouth water.

  6. serissime July 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I work at a butcher shop. Are you sure you are talking about the neck of the pig? It’s true that the “butt” is the shoulder–the cut containing the shoulder blade. The “shoulder” is the cut starting from below the butt, to the elbow. The jowl is the cheek on the face, but usually the neck is the neck! Most places take the neck of the pig, usually remove the easy meat, and chop the neck up into chunks. Pork neck is really cheap and I’d love to try it with this, but I just want to make sure we are on the same page!

  7. Admin July 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    serissme – Yes, we are. The neck is the neck. That’s why I said in the post that the neck, shoulder, jowl, and butt aren’t the same; they’re just good substitutes for one another in case it’s hard for people to get one particular cut in their area.

  8. Anonymous October 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    May I ask what is the tempreature and how long should I grill it for? Use FGrill or just Grill? Thanks.

  9. Admin October 6, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Anon – I grill it over medium hot charcoal (when it’s covered in ash). When you deal with charcoal grilling, it’s not practical or possible to say how long to grill it for. This has to do the distance between the charcoal and the griling rack, etc. Just play by ear. Avoid flare-ups and try to get one side slightly charred before flipping.

    Are you planning on grilling this indoors on a electronic griddle where you can control the temp? I don’t have an electric grill, so can’t advise you on that. Alternatively, you can broil it on hight at about 7-8 inches below the heat. The result of these indoor methods is nowhere near that produced by charcoal grilling, so keep that in mind. But in the winter, this is necessary.

    I have no idea what FGrill is. Sorry.

  10. impulsively March 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Where I live, the pork neck pieces have bones in them – they aren’t all-meat like in your picture. Occasionally I can find some really meaty bone pieces – will that still work? How long would it take to grill with bone in it? Thanks!
    P.S. How come I have to log into my Google account to post a comment now? (I don’t use mine very frequently.)

  11. Admin March 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    impulsively – If you’re talking about the kind of pork neck pieces that are used in stews or various meat sauces, they won’t work so well. Look for pork shoulder or perhaps boneless country-style rib meat. I’m sure your supermarket has those. Be sure to slice them into 1/2-inch thick pieces first.

  12. Matt April 10, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    I have one quick question. In Australia, pork neck is usually sold for roasting and is normally rolled. When you say to cut it into 1/2 inch pieces do you mean the size cuts that you have in the picture? or is that after you have “sliced” it as per the last instruction?

    • Leela April 10, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Matt – The pork should be cut into large, wide slabs that are about 1/2 inch thick. The width and length don’t matter as long as they’re 1/2 inch thick. That way, with each bite (unless it’s an end piece), you get two sides that are smoky, charred surface area and two sides that are juicy and succulent.


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