Pig-Ear Shreds from the Best Chinese Restaurant in Halifax, Nova Scotia
This little dish is an appetizer from the fairly extensive ‘Authentic Chinese’ section of the menu at the Best Chinese Restaurant here in Halifax. I have tried pig’s ears at other over the years several years, but this preparation deserves a bit of a mention…
Pig’s ears, often served cold, are enjoyed in Chinese cuisine primarily for their texture. The taste is somewhat negligible, and chiefly overshadowed by accompanying ingredients, but the sheet of cartilage below the thin, soft skin, yields a bite that is a bit like breaking the skin of a knackwurst… it seems tough and unyielding at the first pressure, but then suddenly gives way with a satisfyingly crisp crunch.
These ones were prepared much as others I have had; that is to say, in red chili oil ( 红油耳丝 as it appears on the menu), along with scallion and garlic. What differentiated this particular one from other similar dishes is the sheer amount of raw garlic… there were thick slices of it all throughout the dish and they really added a sharp note in addition to the fire of the flakes of chili in the oil.
As much as I enjoyed the Pig-Ear Shreds at Best Chinese, I think I would be willing to forego the raw garlic in order to have this served as a hot dish rather than a cold appetizer. I think the pleasure of the dish would be enhanced (for me at least, especially if the shreds were briefly fried in oil to give more crispy texture to the outer skin. Still, that may be something that has to wait until I can prepare it in my own kitchen. It is a shame, however, that this particular cut of the pig is not seen around these parts all that frequently.