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Leng Saeb Recipe (Spicy Thai Pork Bone Soup)

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This leng saeb recipe is spicy, saucy, and irresistibly tangy. It’s loaded with fall-apart tender pork that’s absolutely delicious. All the yuminess is bathing in a bold, rich broth, loaded with countless chilies and fresh culantro.

Leng saeb, spicy Thai pork bone soup, garnished with culantro and green onions, with lots of sauce.

What is laeng saeb

Laeng saeb is a flavorful spicy pork bone soup rich in fall-apart tender pork, fresh lime juice, fiery chilies, and herbs. The savory Thai soup is often paired with rice and sometimes enjoyed as street food.

Thai pork bone soup recipe

So, a while ago, I found myself watching Mark Wiens’ extremely popular video about lang saeb AGAIN. In the video, he conquers a huge mountain of pork bones loaded with chilies. And all that was going through my mind was: I HAVE to try making my own laeng saeb recipe (เล้งแซ่บ)!

You know you’ve got to try something when you see Mark Wiens putting his stamp of approval on it, right?!

If you’re ever in Bangkok, definitely swing by the night market ‘Talad Rot Fai’.

“The market is known for its unique Thai street food, some of the snacks and dishes which are invented there, and you won’t find anywhere else in Bangkok.

Mark Wiens

Absolutely a top 3 bucket list place for me!

So, I heard about this dish a while ago, but never had the chance to taste or cook it myself. It’s kinda new, apparently popping up just a few years ago. That’s what I love about Thai food – it’s so diverse and surprising.

Top-down view of Thai pork bone soup garnished with green chilies and fresh herbs.

Trying leng saap for the first time was like a dream.

The broth? Packed with flavor from fresh lime juice and fiery chilies.

It’s rich, it’s porky, and it’s gonna have you slurping till the last drop!

And the meat? So tender, it just falls off the bones. Absolute perfection.

Believe it or not, it was pretty easy to make. The real challenge was stacking that mountain of meat, haha!

Top-down view of spicy Thai pork bone soup with a broth and fresh herbs.

Can’t get enough? Try my grilled Thai ribs recipe!

4 Reasons to try this recipe

  • Spicy soup with pork bone. The liquid is packed with herbs and so many chilies. Each spoonful is bold, spicy, and can’t stop eating good.
  • A rich and flavorful broth. The broth is so rich, salty, and made to perfection with pork spines. The meat soaks up all that spicy goodness, so good.
  • Perfect for sharing. With this leng saab recipe, you bring the world of Thai street food right to your table. Share the pork soup with your friends and family.
  • It’s just fun to eat. Eating this is so much fun! Scraping tender, braised pork off the bones isn’t something you get to do every day, and it’s such a unique experience.

What type of pork bone to use for soup

The best pork bones for soup are pork neck bones and pork back bones. They’ve got a perfect balance of meat, marrow, and bone, to give you a broth that’s rich and full of flavor.

  • Back and spine bones: Rich in marrow, which enriches broths with flavor and nutrients.
  • Neck Bones: Ideal for their marbling and flavorful meat.

Alternatively, you can use other cuts, like baby back ribs or (chopped) spare ribs. They’re packed with meat, so you’ll definitely have lots of that fall-off-the-bone goodness.

However, they’ll not add the same depth of flavor to the stock as the traditional choices of pork neck and back bones would.

For the best flavor, stick to the traditional leng bones.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.

Pork stock

Bird's eye view of pork stock ingredients; garlic, coriander root, black peppercorns, water, salt, pork bones, light soy sauce, and an onion.
  • Pork bones – The bones are simmered slowly so the marrow and meat impart their flavors into the soup. Traditionally, we use pork neck bones or pork back bones.
  • Water – With the right amount of water, all the flavors become well-balanced without overwhelming each other.
  • Light soy sauce – Adds a savory flavor, enhancing the overall taste of the soup.
  • Black peppercorns – Add a subtle, spicy kick, infusing the broth with a subtle heat and a pungent aroma.
  • Coriander root – Coriander root brings earthy and citrusy tones.
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Salt

Leng saeb broth

Bird's eye view of leng saeb broth ingredients; chilies, culantro, green onions, lime juice, and fish sauce.
  • Fish sauce – This staple of Thai cuisine adds umami and a salty flavor.
  • Green onions – Brings freshness and a mild, sweet flavor.
  • Culantro – Culantro is a stronger, and more pungent version of cilantro. If you can’t find culantro, use cilantro.
  • Chilies – I used bird’s eye chilies or “prik kee noo”, these are very popular in Thai cuisine and other Southeast Asian cuisines. They’re incredibly spicy, feel free to sub with a mild type of chili.
  • Lime – Adds freshness and a tangy flavor, feel free to use as much of fresh lime juice as you want.

How to make pork bone soup

Note: To prepare your pork bones for soup, ask the butcher to chop them or use a butcher’s knife.

Crush herbs and spices

Crush garlic, coriander root, and black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle.

Cook pork stock

Instructional steps for making the leng saeb pork broth.

1. Place a large pot filled with water on medium heat. Add the pounded mixture to the water.

2. Once the water reaches a boil, carefully add the pork bones to the pot.

3. Include sliced onion, light soy sauce, and salt.

4. When the broth comes to a boil again, remove any scum that floats to the surface. Let the stock simmer for about an hour, or until the meat on the bones is tender.

Prepare the broth

Instructional steps for making the pork broth.

1. Pour 17 fl oz of the prepared pork stock into a separate saucepan.

2. Add fish sauce, freshly squeezed lime juice, chilies to taste, culantro, and green onions.

3. Arrange the tender pork bones in a serving dish and ladle the prepared broth over them. Serve with a side of rice.

Leng saeb pork spine recipe tips

  • Use high-quality bones. Look for fresh, high-quality bones at grocery stores or local / Asian / Chinese butchers.
  • Slow simmering is key. It allows the pork to become tender. It’s crucial that the pork falls-off-the-bone.
  • Customize the heat. I used bird’s eye chilies. If you prefer a milder heat, you can use a less spicy chili or remove their seeds. Avoid using fewer chilies, as the chilies add their flavor as well.
  • Taste test. Adjust the flavor of salt, spice, and sourness to your taste.

Kitchen tools

  • Cutting board and chef’s knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Large pot for soup
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Ladle

How to serve

Traditionally, the bones are shaped into a tower and then topped with the broth and many fresh herbs. Pair with a bowl of steamed rice or Thai sticky rice.

Tip: Use a spoon to scrape the meat off the bones, and mix it with the spicy, flavorful and chilies. So good!

How to store and reheat

Store the leftover pork bones and broth separately in an airtight container in your refrigerator. It’ll stay fresh for up to 3 days.

Reheating instructions: Reheat the broth in a pot over medium heat, add the bones, and cook until warm.

Did you know?

“Leng” symbolizes the back spine of a pig. In Chinese, “leng” means dragon. In Isan, Northeast Thailand, food is called “saeb” when it’s deliciously salty, spicy, and sour.

Frequently asked questions

Where to buy pork bones?

The right bones for this recipe are pork neck or pork back bones. Look for them at grocery stores or at Chinese butchers.

Is it gluten-free?

You can use a gluten-free soy sauce and ensure your fish sauce brand is gluten-free.

Is it super spicy?

Leng saeb is loved for its spicy flavors, thanks to the fiery chilies. Feel free to use a mild type of chilies or to remove the seeds.

Can I use other meat?

Feel free to experiment with other meat like chicken or beef. While I haven’t tested it myself, I’m sure the unique flavor of each meat will result in a delicious dish. Make sure to adjust the cooking time.

More Thai meat recipes you’ll love

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Leng Saeb Recipe (Spicy Thai Pork Bone Soup)

Leng saeb, spicy Thai pork bone soup, garnished with culantro and green onions, with lots of sauce.
This recipe for leng saeb makes a spicy Thai pork bone soup loaded with chilies and fresh herbs.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

PORK STOCK

  • 42 ounces pork bones neck or back bones
  • 68 fluid ounces water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 4 coriander root
  • 6 cloves garlic

LENG SAEB BROTH

  • 17 fluid ounces pork stock
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • chilies bird's eye chilies, to taste
  • culantro to taste
  • green onions to taste

Instructions

CRUSH HERBS AND SPICES

  • Crush garlic, coriander root, and black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle.

COOK PORK STOCK

  • Place a large pot filled with water on medium heat. Add the pounded mixture to the water.
  • Once the water reaches a boil, carefully add the pork bones to the pot.
  • Include sliced onion, light soy sauce, and salt.
  • When the broth comes to a boil again, remove any scum that floats to the surface. Let the stock simmer for about an hour, or until the meat on the bones is tender.

PREPARE THE BROTH

  • Pour 17 fl oz of the prepared pork stock into a separate saucepan.
  • Add fish sauce, freshly squeezed lime juice, chilies to taste, culantro, and green onions.
  • Arrange the tender pork bones in a serving dish and ladle the prepared broth over them. Serve with a side of rice.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Serve with jasmine rice or Thai sticky rice.
  • Generously add chilies to taste.

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