I’m in love with salad in every cuisine, from Italian, French, Russia to Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese salads. It’s the combination of fresh, crunchy vegetables and various types of proteins. Pig Ear Salad is a common salad in Asian cuisines, especially in China and Vietnam. The salad normally includes cabbage, carrot, mango, onion… and boiled pig ears. Let’s make it.

Pig Ear Salad

Preparing Ingredients

Like many other salads, the ingredients for Pig Ear Salad (Goi tai heo) are totally flexible. You can use several in a large range of vegetables for salads, from cabbage, carrot, cucumber, onion, to fruits like mango, green papaya, unripe mangosteen or even lotus roots, coconut core, etc.

In my recipes, I picked three most popular vegetables, including cabbage, cucumber, and carrot. With cabbage, choose pointed cabbage; this type of cabbage is the most appropriate one for salad as it’s less bitter than green cabbage. Purple cabbage can also be a good choice. Use fresh and high-quality ingredients to achieve the best flavor and texture.

The main protein in the dish, Pig Ears, requires a careful preparation to remove the smell and achieve white, crispy pieces of pig ears. Choose fresh, pinkish pig ears from a butcher shop or Asian shop. Frozen pig ears are also fine but remember to check the date to pick the newest ones.

Pig Ear Salad
Preparing Pig Ears for Salad

Besides, also prepare some garnishes such as chopped cilantro and spring onion, fried shallot/oven baked onion, and roasted peanut. Roasted peanut is a must in Vietnamese salad.

Now that we’ve assembled our ingredients, let’s combine them altogether to have a wonderful salad.

Tools and Equipment:

Chopping a large number of vegetables can be a frustrating task. Therefore, having the right tools and equipment can make the process easier, as well as the look of your salad look tastier. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Mandoline Slicer or a Sharp Knife: The key to this salad is thinly sliced papaya and carrots. A mandoline slicer can provide consistent thin strips, but if you’re skilled with a knife, that works too. If you have an Asian Grater & Peeler, it is the best option to grate carrot and green papaya.
  • Mortar and Pestle: This is traditionally used in Vietnam to crush the garlic and chilies, releasing their oils and flavors to blend into the dressing. If you don’t have one, a small blender, food processor or simple knife & cutting board can be used as a substitute, but the flavors achieved with the mortar and pestle are still the best, in my opinion.
  • Mixing Bowl: Choose a large enough bowl that allows you to mix the ingredients without spilling. Glass or ceramic bowls are preferred as they don’t retain flavors and are easy to clean.

Making Pig Ear Salad

Step 1. Preparing Vegetables

Now that we have our ingredients and tools ready, it’s time to prepare the ingredients for the salad:

  • Slicing cabbage: Slice the cabbage horizontally into 3-5mm (0.1 inch)-thick slices. Don’t slice too thin or too thick. Too thin cabbage strips make it easily to get crushed while too thick strips prevent them from absorbing the dressing sauce. Wash and soak them in salty water.
  • Julienning Carrots: Peel the outer skin of the carrots and use the mandoline slicer or knife to shred them into thin strips similar to the papaya. Wash and squeeze them 2-3 times with salty water to enhance the crispness.
  • Cutting Cucumber: Use a multifunction peeler/wave cutter to cut cucumber into pieces.
  • Draining out water: After cutting vegetables, mix them all in a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp salt in. Let them sit for 20-30 minutes to drain out a part of water in vegetables. Finally, squeeze them one last time.
Pig Ear Salad
Mix sugar & salt with vegetables to drain out a part of water in them.

Step 2. Preparing Pig Ear

  • Firstly, use a small knife to scrape off the remaining hair as well as impurities from the pig’s ears. Massage the ears with salt and lemon and wash them several times until they become clean and whiter.
  • In a pot, add pig ears, sliced ginger and shallot, then an amount of water that covers the ears fully. Turn on high heat until boiling. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium, skim the foam and keep boiling in 15 minutes. After that, immediately transfer the ears into an ice bath, or at least cold water, to cool them down and prevent them from blackening.
  • Finally, tut the pig ears into thin slices. Each slice contains the white cartilage in the middle and the ivory pig skin outside.

Step 3. Making Dressing

The heart of the Vietnamese Salad, including Pig Ear Salad (Gỏi tai heo), is its dressing – a tantalizing blend of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour elements in fish sauce. If possible, crushed fish sauce is more delicious; however, fish sauce with minced garlic and chillies is still goodHere’s how to prepare the dressing if you prefer crushed version:

  • Starting with the Aromatics: Using the mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and chili with 1 tbsp of sugar to release their flavors. This process is crucial as it helps in extracting the essence of these ingredients. Once crushed, add them to your dressing mix.
  • Combining the Basics: Add warm water, then fish sauce. The ratio of fish sauce for making salad is 1 water: 2 fish sauce. Then, squeeze 1tbsp lime/lemon juice or vinegar into the sauce. Stir evenly to combine.
  • Adjusting to Taste: Depending on your preference, you might want it sweeter, tangier, or spicier. Adjust the quantities of sugar, lime juice, or chili accordingly. If it becomes too salty, add more lime juice or a touch of water to dilute.
pig ear salad
Vietnamese Salads usually use fish sauce as a dressing

Step 4. Assembling

  • Mixing the Base: In a large mixing bowl, combine cabbage, carrot, cucumber and pig ear slices. Toss them gently, ensuring they’re well-mixed.
  • Adding the Dressing: Pour the prepared dressing over the mix. Using your hands or salad utensils, gently mix everything, ensuring every pieces is coated with the dressing. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes for the ingredients to absorb the dressing.
  • Garnishing: Finish off with a sprinkle of crushed roasted peanuts and fried/oven baked shallot for an extra crunchy. You can also add more chopped herbs on top.
pig ear salad

Serving and Storing

With salad, you should serve the dish immediately for the best texture and freshness.

In case you don’t enjoy it immediately, store the separately vegetables, pig ears, and dressing sauce. It’s to extend their shelf lives. Moreover, if you assemble the ingredients before storing, the water from vegetables will be drained out more, and they also lose their crispiness.

Pig Ear Salad
Pig Ear Salad

Pig Ear Salad

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Pig Ear Salad is a common salad in Asian cuisines. The salad normally includes cabbage, carrot, mango, onion… and boiled pig ears.

Ingredients

  • 300g (10 oz) pointed cabbage
  • 300g (10 oz) carrot
  • 300g (10 oz) cucumber
  • 1-2 pig ears
  • Sugar and salt
  • 2-3 ginger & shallot slices

Dressing

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime/lemon juice

Instructions

Step 1. Preparing Vegetables

Now that we have our ingredients and tools ready, it’s time to prepare the ingredients for the salad:

  • Slicing cabbage: Slice the cabbage horizontally into 3-5mm (0.1 inch)-thick slices. Don’t slice too thin or too thick. Too thin cabbage strips make it easily to get crushed while too thick strips prevent them from absorbing the dressing sauce. Wash and soak them in salty water.pig ear salad
  • Julienning Carrots: Peel the outer skin of the carrots and use the mandoline slicer or knife to shred them into thin strips similar to the papaya. Wash and squeeze them 2-3 times with salty water to enhance the crispness.green papaya salad
  • Cutting Cucumber: Use a multifunction peeler/wave cutter to cut cucumber into pieces.cut cucumber for salads
  • Draining out water: After cutting vegetables, mix them all in a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp salt in. Let them sit for 20-30 minutes to drain out a part of water in vegetables. Finally, squeeze them one last time. Pig Ear Salad

Step 2. Preparing Pig Ear

  • Firstly, use a small knife to scrape off the remaining hair as well as impurities from the pig's ears. Massage the ears with salt and lemon and wash them several times until they become clean and whiter.pig ear salad
  • In a pot, add pig ears, sliced ginger and shallot, then an amount of water that covers the ears fully. Turn on high heat until boiling. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium, skim the foam and keep boiling in 15 minutes. After that, immediately transfer the ears into an ice bath, or at least cold water, to cool them down and prevent them from blackening.
  • Finally, tut the pig ears into thin slices. Each slice contains the white cartilage in the middle and the ivory pig skin outside.

Step 3. Making Dressing

The heart of the Vietnamese Salad, including Pig Ear Salad (Gỏi tai heo), is its dressing – a tantalizing blend of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour elements in fish sauce. If possible, crushed fish sauce is more delicious; but fish sauce with minced garlic and chillies is still good. Here’s how to prepare the dressing if you prefer crushed version:

  • Starting with the Aromatics: Using the mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and chili with 1 tbsp of sugar to release their flavors. This process is crucial as it helps in extracting the essence of these ingredients. Once crushed, add them to your dressing mix.
  • Combining the Basics: Add warm water, then fish sauce. The ratio of fish sauce for making salad is 1 water: 2 fish sauce. Then, squeeze 1tbsp lime/lemon juice or vinegar into the sauce. Stir evenly to combine.
  • Adjusting to Taste: Depending on your preference, you might want it sweeter, tangier, or spicier. Adjust the quantities of sugar, lime juice, or chili accordingly. If it becomes too salty, add more lime juice or a touch of water to dilute.pig ear salad

Step 4. Assembling

  • Mixing the Base: In a large mixing bowl, combine cabbage, carrot, cucumber and pig ear slices. Toss them gently, ensuring they’re well-mixed.
  • Adding the Dressing: Pour the prepared dressing over the mix. Using your hands or salad utensils, gently mix everything, ensuring every pieces is coated with the dressing. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes for the ingredients to absorb the dressing.pig ear salad
  • Garnishing: Finish off with a sprinkle of crushed roasted peanuts and fried/oven baked shallot for an extra crunchy. You can also add more chopped herbs on top.Pig Ear Salad
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 250g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276

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