Cake + Pork = ???
July 1, 2011 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Ground Pork Cake? That's what it rang up as at the register. But what is it (besides absolutely delicious), where is it from, and how is it normally served/used?

I like this little Asian market near where I work and I just popped in to stock-up on some ingredients. Near the register there is usually a variety of baked goods and every now and then I like to try one. I saw a new one this time and decided to give it a whirl. It looked like a big thick triangle, like half of a super-thick sandwich cut on the diagonal. On the outside was a sticky, slightly crunchy coating... of what might have been some kind of Asian Bar-b-que pork mixture. It looked like a thick, crumbly coating of cinnamon, sugar, and butter like what you'd see on monkey bread or sticky buns, but it was lightly sweet and salty and did taste like pork. The cake itself was a lightly sweet and fluffy angel food variety, very spongy, but it wasn't white, more of an light yellow. No pork inside, only outside. Just yummy sponge inside.

I should point out that this was not a bun. Yes, I'm intimately familiar with pork buns and this was not that.

The lady who owns the shop doesn't really like my questions and often tells me that she doesn't know what I'm asking, though I suspect it's more her curmudgeonly demeanor than any real lack of language skills. She tends to know exactly what I'm saying when I ask about price. But she isn't willing to offer anything about the cake in English other than "Pork Cake." The store itself is in a college town with a diverse Asian community so the store carries a broad spectrum of Asian stuff. What I'd like to know is what was that, where is it from, and how is it normally eaten—or is it part of some other dish?

I'd offer a picture, but it didn't survive the drive back to the office. Your help is appreciated.
posted by Toekneesan to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The coating sounds like Pork floss.
posted by zamboni at 8:38 AM on July 1, 2011

Pork Fu! (may also be the same as pork floss, and I can't decide which is more fun to say).

Southeast Asia really loves combining sweet and savory in a way that was lost to European cultures around the time of the Renaissance, and we're only just starting to get back. Good for them! And you!
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:51 AM on July 1, 2011

Response by poster: Acidic, the cake part seems right, but the coating part I'm not so sure about. I don't think there was any mayonaise, and as for the fu/floss, that stuff seems pretty shredded and this was more granular—either ground or very finely chopped. It was also a little sweet. Maybe what I had was just a variation.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:13 AM on July 1, 2011

I know nothing about Asian Food, but when I hear the words "Pork Cake", it reminds me of what people in Phila call Scrapple. It is sometimes served with syrup, as one would serve sausage . . .
posted by MeiraV at 9:18 AM on July 1, 2011

Wild guess here, could the pork have been Rousong? I used to get this by the container all the time - delicious, sweet dried pork with a consistency somewhere between cotton candy and carpet fuzz.
posted by bookwo3107 at 9:24 AM on July 1, 2011

This post on Serious Eats seems to confirm that it can indeed be used as a sponge-cake topper.
posted by bookwo3107 at 9:26 AM on July 1, 2011

Best answer: Yeah, it's definitely rousong. Rousong that has been sitting in butter/sugar for a while has exactly the texture of thick, crumbly cinnamon that you mention, and it's served with the slightly yellow sponge bread/cake thing that you mention -- it usually takes the form of a little bun, with the rousong mix on top. In Chinese, it comes out to something like "yuk song bao" or "rou song bao" depending on whether you're speaking Cantonese (the first) or Mandarin (the second).

When I was little, one of the biggest treats my mother had in her arsenal was to slather white bread with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, and pour on the rousong, which you can buy at any self-respecting Asian grocery. There are all kinds of variations, like ones with sesame or with bits of dried seaweed inside. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

it's totally rousong—this is my favorite thing to get at chinese bakeries, in all of its incarnations. some places do straight up cake, some do buns, some do sponge bread. they're all pork floss, and they're all delicious.
posted by lia at 9:52 PM on July 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, folks! Now back to the market for some Rousong. I have some experimenting to do.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:15 AM on July 2, 2011

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