Crackling may be the wrong word to use when it comes to ears.
My recent flights to Thailand were accompanied by a few ear pressure problems. It's something that I'm trying to put behind me. I should be taking my mind off crackling ears altogether.
This philosophy changed when I saw a couple of pigs ears at the market whilst shopping for ingredients for my popular pork larb recipe.
My taste memories flooded back and I couldn't resist them.
In Bangkok the street vendors wander along with a charcoal grill cart, succulent pork cuts crisping attractively in a Bob Marley style haze of aromatic smoke.
Amongst them you'll almost always find bbq pigs ears, some lean strips of meat, some belly and a couple of lumps carved off something that once resembled chops
Pigs ears are a little unappealing if you aren't already addicted, but I swear that they're the perfect accompaniment to a beer or two. Late afternoon is a prime time for the crackly-ear-cravings to hit.
Raw, they look like the leathery, severed aural appendages that they are.
The secret to their transformation is a slow, gentle, unhurried grilling over charcoal. They puff up and cook through, the inside moist and juicy with the skin turning into crunchy crackling. Suddenly, these are a desirable meal.
The finished product is a trifecta of crispy skin layered with succulent pork meat and a thin layer of cartilage which gives a nice textural contrast.
The smoky taste and sinful smell beckons the other senses to a wanton pork orgy.
It's possible to lie back in a state of improper satiety after a barbecued pigs ear feast, stomach thrusting pregnantly skywards.
You always think "Next time I'll exercise more self control" not really meaning it for an instant.
Once barbecued there's no difficult trimming or processing involved.
Simply slice into thin strips and serve with a dipping sauce.
I recommend the following one based on toasted dry red chilli and ground roasted rice.
Next step is the dipping sauce which is simple, quick and easy.
It goes with almost anything that you can barbecue, and doesn't need to be incredibly spicy.
You can adjust the heat level with more or less of the toasted chilli. The 'nam prik pao' black chilli jam is quite rich and sweet.
The shredded kaffir lime leaf in this dipping sauce really turns it into a taste sensation, but the sauce can be made without it.
Give it a try, the sauce recipe is below. I'd love your feedback. In fact, I'm all ears.
Nam Jeaw sauce for BBQ pigs ears
30g Nam prik pao (Thai black chilli jam or 'chilli paste') Chua Hah Seng or Mae Pranom Pantainorasingh are good brands
15g Ground roasted rice Khao krua
5-10g Dark toasted dry red chilli, ground into flakes (to taste)
30ml Lime juice, freshly squeezed from 1-2 limes
15ml Fish sauce. Thai or Vietnamese OK
7ea. Kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded, then diced
20g Fresh coriander (1 heaped tbsp roughly chopped)
- Mix all together and check the taste.
- Balance the sour and salty tastes with fish sauce and lemon juice.
- Toasted rice should give texture and a rich full flavour.
- Nam prik pao will be sweet and rich with a lot of body and not much kick.
- Toasted dry red chilli is totally up to you. Amount depends on the heat of the chillies used, and your personal preference.
This sauce is great with any barbecued meat or seafood.
Go wild! I look forward to you nibbling on my ears.