Thai Style Grilled Pork Neck Recipe

Meaty, succulent neck bones are marinated with brown sugar, soy, lime juice, and fish sauce then grilled to perfection and served with a tamarind-chile sauce.

Closeup of Thai style grilled pork neck plated with rice and greens.

Serious Eats / Chichi Wang

Why This Recipe Works

  • Soaking dried tamarind in boiling water softens it, making it easier to remove the seeds and fiber.
  • Slowly grilling the neck bones over indirect heat for 45 minutes allows the fat to render and the connective tissue to become tender.

As some of you may know, I started this column on the hunch that there would be an audience for recipes that utilize the sort of cuts on the animal that I grew up eating—stomachs and livers, ears and hocks.

Probably one of the first solid foods I ate as a kid was neck bone, stewed in a soup with ginger and rice wine. The soup was flecked with all these bits of cartilage and tendon that took me the better part of an hour to gnaw clean. And I have been very grateful all these years later to find a whole community of eaters who share my love of these sorts of cuts.

So, in a way, I feel it appropriate to turn to you now with some not so great news. For over a week now, I have not wanted to eat offal, or meat of any kind. You could see how this could be problematic for anyone, but for me in particular it's been next to catastrophic. These neck bones, which I had marinated in fish sauce and sugar, were the last bits of meat I truly enjoyed. They were roasted, then served with a spicy tamarind dipping sauce—just the right complement for the fatty cut.

What happened after I ate these bones was this: I threw them in the trashcan and neglected to take out the trash that evening. That evening I set about my nightly routine—which involves a stack of books that I am reading at any given time—and about three books in, I heard an awful rustling from the trashcan, and looked up just in time to see a mouse leap out, darting into the corner. My roommate came into my room to find me almost crying in bed and pointing uselessly to the general vicinity of the trash.

I watched my roommate set all the traps. I watched him gingerly set down the traps while I stayed in the kitchen, cowering. A mere ten minutes later, the mouse was caught and disposed my roommate. That night I lay there, still traumatized, and when I awoke the next morning, I found that I had no appetite for anything. Nada. Zilch. For days I tried to make light of the matter. So what if the mouse turned into a pile of blood and guts when it died? Great! I love eating blood and guts. One of my favorite breakfast foods in Shanghai, city of my birth, is chicken blood soup, where cubes of congealed chicken blood, as soft as silken tofu, are simmered in a clear chicken broth. And you all know of my fondness for stomachs, either stir-fried with onions, or simmered and crisped up to be used as a filling for tacos.

But no, I haven't eaten a good piece of liver in over week, which is actually kind of a first for me. I always feel like a good piece of liver. Or at least, I did.

Closeup of Thai style grilled pork neck.

Serious Eats / Chichi Wang

A few days after the whole mouse incident, I made up another batch of these neck bones, which can be either roasted or grilled. The meat was charred slightly on the outside, and tender inside—segments of meat that did not flake off the bone, but just about. And the sauce was tart and sweet, spicy and salty. In other words, there was nothing more I could have done to make that pork neck better, and still I did not care to gnaw, or even eat it once I'd deboned everything.

I don't know what I'll do if I never want to gnaw on bones again. I really don't want to think about it, but I'll tell you, I'm getting pretty concerned.

September 2012

Recipe Details

Thai Style Grilled Pork Neck Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 8 hrs 30 mins
Serves 4 to 6 servings

Meaty, succulent neck bones are marinated with brown sugar, soy, lime juice, and fish sauce then grilled to perfection and served with a tamarind-chile sauce.


  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce, divided

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar, divided

  • 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime

  • 3 pounds pork neck, belly, or shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 4 ounces dried tamarind (see note)

  • 1 bird's eye chile, thinly sliced


  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup fish sauce, soy sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and lime juice. Place pork neck in a nonreactive container, then pour in all the marinade and mix to distribute evenly. Cover, refrigerate, and allow to marinate at least overnight and up to 2 days.

  2. Slice tamarind into a few pieces. Place the pieces in a small bowl and add 1 cup boiling water. Let soak for 20 minutes, then mash the tamarind with your fingers. Pour the mash and its liquid into a strainer placed over an empty bowl. Press down on the tamarind pulp with your fingers until only the seeds and fiber are left in the strainer. Discard the contents of the strainer. Add remaining fish sauce and sugar along with sliced chiles and mix to combine. Set aside.

  3. Remove the pork from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Grill the pieces of pork over indirect heat in a covered grill, until meat is tender and the surface is charred, about 45 minutes. Alternatively, place pork on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, cover with foil, and roast in a pre-heated 350°F (175°C) oven until tender and charred, about 45 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes, then slice and serve with tamarind sauce.

Special Equipment

Fine mesh strainer, grill or rimmed baking sheet


Dried tamarind comes in sticky blocks and can be found at most Asian markets.

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
658 Calories
43g Fat
11g Carbs
54g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 658
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 16g 79%
Cholesterol 195mg 65%
Sodium 1483mg 64%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 3mg 16%
Calcium 83mg 6%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 863mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)