Saturday, July 3, 2010

Soy Ginger Pig Ears-Two Ways


not for the faint of heart...
BUT, i can now say with pride that i have conquered "THE EAR"

i have no idea what got into me. i saw them and had to buy them. so glad i did. what an interesting, bizarre and surprisingly delicious part of the pig. if you're a little daring or just curious and up for a challenge, please do try this. the texture alone is so odd. the outside is kind of soft, gelatinous, but the inside is crunchy? it's just skin and cartilage. hmmmm....very indescribable. very different one might say. ..i'm probably not selling you on this yet, huh?...well, just trust me. you'll only be out a few bucks, they're cheap, you'll have alot of fun, good conversation and another foodie notch in you belt at the least.

oh...i remember now, it was an article in the food section of the LA Times that caught my eye. i thought if the newspaper was going to put a recipe out there for the masses then i better get right to it before it gets to be old news...passe...i'm sure you've already heard alot of talk about the whole "nose to tail" concept...well, i'm slowly but surely making head-way...pardon the pun...i had to say it. i can't help myself...shoot me.

i found these at one of my favorite Mexican markets. you'll see them alot in Asian markets as well, but they are usually pre-sliced and don't have the extra chunk of meat these do at the base of the ear (quite possibly the best bite). i'm sure if you are near an Asian market, my favorite is 99 Ranch Market, they would butcher some any way you like. just look for what you think looks fresh (start by checking the date)...throw caution to the wind and buy a few.

i purchased 4 ears because i knew i would be trying a few different preparations. 2 ears would be fine for a 1st time ear eater. i was eatin' ears for a week because, of course, no one i knew was even the slightest bit interested in my little experiment...fasinated...intrigued...shocked and bewildered, but i definitely had NO TAKERS.

i decided to try 2 different preparations. the 1st photo and the small one to the right is braised, glazed and BBQ'd. deeelish!, but, i must say the ears were a bit unruly on the grill. they wanted to stick and char. i tried to skewer them whole to make them flat so that the grill would hit more surface. you should have seen my innovative skewering technique...i guess it worked, but next time i think i'll slice them, then grill them. there WILL be a next time.
below i sauteed the sliced ears with bacon..ooooh, now that was good. not too much to say about that recipe, just cook your bacon about 2/3 of the way then add in the sliced pig ears and continue cooking untill they look like they are crisping up a bit. use your judgement. serve plain as an appitizer or a side. i enjoyed it with a quick spicy slaw.

below is the initial ear cooking method i adapted from Gourmet Magazine Sept 2009. if you would like the full recipe click here for Thai Pigs' Ear SaladServes6 (side dish)
Active time:20 min. Start to finish:4 hr
September 2009
food editor Andrea Albin came up with this dish starring pigs’ ears;Braising the ears slowly in a robust brew of soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and garlic brings out their tender side. Hold on to the braising broth and add it to sauces or stocks for an instant boost of flavor (as it cools, the broth will thicken considerably because of its high gelatin content).

1 lb pigs’ ears
8 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup sliced ginger
2 tablespoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 cilantro sprigs
1 fresh Thai chile, halved lengthwise (i used jalapeno)

Cook Pigs’ Ears:
•Shave any hair off of pigs’ ears with a razor. YIKES !!!... IMPORTANT NOTE: when i'm cooking odd body parts or things from open stock markets, i like to put the said parts in boiling water for about 5 minutes, drain and rinse. this makes me feel better about any bacteria or cross contamination that might be present. now you're ready....Transfer to a 3-qt heavy pot (or larger) with remaining ingredients and simmer, partially covered, until ears are tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
•Cool ears to room temperature in liquid, then drain (reserve liquid for another use)

Carefully remove the ears from the broth, place them on a parchment paper-lined plate, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. if you are not using them all keep them in the cooking liquid in the fridge. Save the flavorful broth for a yummy Asian flavor stock. Once braised pig ears have been chilled, they can be tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen until ready to use. i kept mine suspended in the gelatinous broth (completely covered)and used as needed for the week.
#1...let me reiterate that refrigeration is key. these things are quite flubbery (for lack of a better word) and unwieldy when first out of the braise. once they are cooled they are much easier to handle and slice for any preparation you choose. now they are ready to take on any flavors hot or cold...they are even good as is , but 1st timers might need a little something more to disguise the wierd factor.
this part was adapted from the LA Times article by Russ Parsons and is great served as an appetizer or over a spicy slaw as shown in photos
Cut the bacon crosswise into thin strips and cook in a skillet over medium heat. Cut the pig ear into similarly sized strips (cut the ear lengthwise into halves or thirds, then slice crosswise into thin strips). When the bacon is almost done, about 10 minutes, add the pig ear and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon has finished browning, about 3 more minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and pig ear slices to a medium bowl, draining well and reserving the fat. keep the fat if you are interested in using it for a dressing as suggested in the LA Times recipe. i just threw together a fresh light slaw using olive oil and lime juice with jalapeno and cilantro.
QUICK is the forth and you know i'll be lighting up the BBQ with some baby back ribs, but i think i'll run out right now and pick up a few ears. i told you there would be a next time. ...done, i bought SIX!

another quick note if you make it down this far...

remember i mentioned the extra meaty skin part at the base of the ear (shown at the forfront of the pic above...well, i glazed that with some Soy Vay-Hoisin Garlic sauce and threw it in the oven at about 450 with a watchful eye, turning as necessary. when they started to snap crackle and pop i took them out to cool. these could have been the best bites ever! a little fatty, a little moist meat with some crispy glazed skin and just a hint of crunchy cartilidge. i know you think i'm crazy, but i even got my mother to try this bite. she won't admit to it now, but i know she is a secret Pig Parts Lover.


Greg said...

A cook after my own heart. I would love to try pig ears. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Quick Tip; instead of Shaving/scraping Hairs, try singeing with any small open flame, such as one of those long BBQ grill lighters or a fireplace Match. It is much faster and gets into every little nook & cranny without difficulty.

Jules and Ruby said...

Greg...thanks for stopping by. please DO try these.
Anonymous...thanks for the great tip. i wish i would have known yesterday. next time...FLAME ON!

Vicki said...

Hooray for ears! I tried a couple different preparations a while back and like you, had no takers. Too bad for them :)

scrambledhenfruit said...

You are a brave one to try ears. Head cheese I can handle, but I'm not so sure about ears. Your preparations of them do look beautiful though!

natasya said...

Googling for a recipe for pig ears, I was directed to your site and I must say I love your recipes featuring unorthodox ingredients. Now that I know how to cook pig ears, it’s a regular feature on my menu. Of course I am the only taker too! Keep up the good work.. Next up, cookies baked with bacon fat…..

Jules and Ruby said... glad you like pig ears. i might have to buy some soon. they are such a strange texture and i seem to need to buy them every now and then. i hope you try some bacon cookies soon...thanks for the great comment...jules

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