Monday, January 18, 2010

What to do with a Pig Ear (Part I)

Yes, you read that correctly. Pig ear. I saw a bunch of packages of them at the market, and picked one up, having absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them. I figured if I couldn't find a way to cook them (for people), at least the dogs would have fun. Warning, if you're squeamish, you might want to skip this one. I thought the whole process was pretty interesting, myself.

Turns out, I was able to find a few recipes. They started with boiling the scary things for a couple hours until they were tender. So that's what I did. Observe.



Upon seeing the three ears on the counter, my Youngest asked me, "Three? How did that happen?" I told her maybe the second pig had an accident. I almost said maybe the pig had a genetic disorder that made him grow a third ear, but she was already freaked out enough by their mere presence, so I'm glad that my shut-up switch worked.

My first recipe was for Crisp Fried Pig's Ears. Kind of like bacon bits, or pork cracklins. Only, ears. So, the next step was to let the ear (I stowed the other two in the fridge) cool until it stopped wobbling. Then, I proceeded to slice.




Isn't it neat? Skin, fat and cartilage in distinct layers. Up at the end (or, I guess, the beginning) where the ear used to attach to the head, there was a little meat as well.

Next, you make sure the strips are as dry as possible (foreshadowing), and coat them in a 50/50 mix of flour and cornstarch in attempt to prevent spattering when you deep-fry them (more foreshadowing). Heat some neutral oil to 350, carefully slip in a few pieces at a time, and stir them gently while frying so they don't stick together.

The finished product:




The taste?  Like the crispy skin from a pork roast. But with that cartilage-y bit in the middle.

Now, I skipped a part. A really important part. The part after you carefully slip the ear strips into the oil, and all of a sudden you have oil popping and hissing and splattering absolutely everywhere. Because when you boil an ear for hours, it soaks up a lot of water. Then when you drop that water-logged ear into hot oil, the water turns to steam, forcing the oil out of the pot. Onto your clothing. And hands. And ceiling. And dangerously close to your eyeballs.

So, would I do this again? Hell, no.

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11 comments:

Stash said...

Bold move! I've been working with trotters for awhile and am looking to move to ears. I know they fry well after a long simmer, or they can be brined and then cooked into pillowy goodness. I'll remember the goggles.

Vicki said...

Hey Stash - Goggles, full face shield, maybe an asbestos apron...

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I had only eaten pig's ears Chinese-style pickled or VNese-style in headcheese, so the first time I tried them deep-fried French-style was amazing. So tender!

I hope you didn't burn your face when the oil splattered?

Bob said...

You're a braver soul than I. I totally would have made chew toys for my cats. ;)

Vicki said...

Hey WC - Ooh, pickled! I might have to buy another package. No burns, thankfully :)

Hi Bob - I wasn't so brave after the first batch - those 7 little strips? That's all I made. The dogs got the rest. Not fried.

Kitt said...

OK, that totally made me laugh. Pig's ears really are only good for dog treats. I had them in China and they weren't any good prepared by professional pig-ear purveyors either.

Vicki said...

Hey Kitt - They really weren't that bad! Just not worth the trouble :)

Sharon said...

Interesting! My dad loves these...I will only feed it to my dog :) My mom has a good recipe (according to my dad). if you're ever eager to try again, I can find it out for you!

Vicki said...

Hi Sharon - I'll try (almost) any recipe once. If you can get the recipe from your mom, please send it to me :)

caninecologne said...

hi there! they sell fried pigs ears at asia cafe (laotian restaurant in the hood). i didn't know what they were at first, but even after i found out, i still liked it.

they are sold in ziplock bags for $3 (i think that's the price)...they are crunchy and kind of hard to chew. think of chicharron but tougher.

Vicki said...

Hi CC - The one on Market St.? I must go. Thanks for the tip!