Crispy Pig Ears
A few weeks ago, Luis and I took my fourteen year old daughter, Grace, to a restaurant in Chicago that features various cuts of pork on its menu. Head cheese, balsamic pig tail, braised shoulder, and our favorite, crispy pig ears with fried egg. Grace, the more adventurous eater of my two daughters, was initially put off by the idea of eating ears and tails. She remembered the smoked dry ears we used to treat our dog to years ago. As I ordered, I asked the server to bring the items out in any order, hoping to slip some of the tasty pig parts onto my daughter’s plate. When the pig ears arrived, julienned and crispy, Grace asked “Is this bacon?” “Yes”, I lied. But she loved them and ate them all, leaving only the bits of fried kale that came with the dish.
In China, they say the only part of the pig that doesn’t get cooked is the oink. My experience with Grace and the idea of whole hog cooking started me thinking about Big Bowl, our guests, and using parts of the animal not typically served on our menu. Pig ears are delicious. We braise them for hours with soy sauce, Chinese cinnamon, and Shaoxing rice wine. After tossing with potato starch and frying, the julienne ears are tossed with cilantro leaves, scallion, ginger, and sesame-soy dressing. Pure protein, they have a pleasant crunch after braising and frying. To enrich the dish, we top with a sunny side up egg meant to be broken into the warm crunchy salad.
I couldn’t get Grace to eat pig’s tails. They were actually better than the ears. But I did succeed in getting Grace to enjoy a true delicacy of Chinese cuisine. Thanks to Grace and with a lot of encouragement from Dan McGowan, Big Bowl President, Crispy Pig Ears are featured this month at your favorite Big Bowl. Will you be as adventurous as Grace? Just think of it as bacon.