Pig Ears at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa
Pig Ears are sometimes encountered in various cuisines in the West but they really aren’t all that widely consumed. In China, they are prized for their texture and are most commonly eaten cold in salad-type preparations, sometimes even as an item on Dim Sum manus.. The Pig Ear Salad at the Harmony Restaurant in Ottawa was nicely prepared and bold with a fiery Chili Oil dressing.
Pig Ears don’t have a great deal of flavor themselves, but they have a terrific texture when properly prepared. Typically, they are first stewed, or boiled until the outer skin is tender. They may be further cooked and served hot, or warm, but mostly when you encounter them in a dish, it will be a cold preparation, generally a dressed salad of some sort.
Eaten this way, Pig Ears, almost invariably cut into long thin strips, or shreds, will have a texture that is both tender and crunchy. When you bite into a strand, the tender skin gives way first to the more dense cartilage inside. Not everyone will enjoy it of course, but it is very much worth giving this specialty a try.
At the Harmony Restaurant, their version was advertised on the menu simply as ‘Pig Ear in Hot Oil’. The ‘Hot Oil’ suggested, and, indeed, turned to be the fairly standard 红油, or ‘Red Oil’ along the lines of my Basic Chili Oil Recipe, although, in this case, theirs had a faint, but lovely nutty taste which I think may have come from the addition of a very small amount of Sesame Oil as well.
Along with the Pig Ear shred, there were also slivers of Cucumber, which may have been salted, some shredded scallion, and finely chopped raw garlic. There was also some chopped Cilantro in the mix (which I can usually do without), but beyond that last addition, the combination, along with the delicious Hot Oil made for a superb appetizer salad.