Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the valley. This week: Spicy Pork Stomach served up by Lao Ching Hing.
The Ick Factor: Despite the Babes and Wilburs of the world, popular culture depicts pigs as dirty animals that roll around in muddy sties and eat slop that even Templeton the Rat would have turned down. They also aren't like ruminants (cows, goats, giraffes, alpacas, you know, the usual) that have four different stomachs to carry out digestion. They've just got the one and they're indiscriminant omnivores like us, so you can only imagine what kind of stuff makes its way through a sow's stomach. Let's not even get into the whole "be wary of any man who keeps a pig farm" scene from Snatch.
(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)
The Offal Choice: A mound of slivered, spicy pig stomach garnished with scallions and served cold. Snag a plentiful portion from Lao Ching Hing in the Chinese Cultural Center.
Tastes Just Like: Thinly sliced pork. Pig stomach is one of the more toothsome offal meats on the market, with just a hint of spring as you chew. It's a pretty good introduction to offal food for the novice, since it tastes so much like regular pork. The texture is also much different from the cow stomach variety of tripe that characterizes dishes like menudo and the thin-sliced omasum salad.
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The flavor was undeniably porky without the offal tang of some organ meat. The gingery, spicy sauce complimented the pork well and the light aftertaste of scallions tasted fresh and "green" without being overpowering.
You Know It's Cooked Improperly When: It tastes more like a pile of spicy rubber bands than succulent white meat pork. Or if it's so spicy that you feel like you just got kicked in the back of the throat by a sow. It should be a nice balance of tender pork stomach and spicy sauce. Serving the dish cold also dials down the heat.
Always been a DIY-er? We searched high and low for a recipe that seemed similar to the one we tried at Lao Ching Hing, and finally stumbled upon one for red cooked pork tripe with ingredients like the flavors we tasted. So swing by the Ranch Market or any other porky offal place and pick up a pack of pig tripe to create this dish in the comfort of your own home.
Know of some offal that we just have to try? Let us know in the comment section.