Taco Tuesday: Taco de oreja
The victory march of pig's ear in Los Angeles has been well-rehearsed, from the Sichuan ear salad to the crunchy bits in a Thai nam sod to the frizzled things served like French fries at places such as Animal, Freddy Small's, Lazy Ox and Umamicatessen. But the most compelling pig's ears in town may be the ones served not at gastropubs but at taquerias, where the appendages have long been stars of the Mexico City-style table.
And the best of these may be the ones found weekends at Los Güichos, a well-regarded truck parked in the lot of a propane dealer down on Slauson. The truck is probably best known for its carne asada and pork al pastor, but it springs to life on weekends, when a big kettle of seething lard simmers carnitas from all parts of the animal; not just the shoulder, but also the liver, heart and skin, among other multitudinous gifts of the pig. If you were of a certain mind-set, you could spend hours watching the carnitas chef ladle boiling grease over perforated bowls of parts -- the standard order is surtido, which brings you a well-filled taco bulging with a bit of everything.
If you have only experienced ears in Asian restaurants, the orejas at Los Güichos may come as a surprise -- the ears have been snipped into strips like lengths of old reel-to-reel tape, soft and melting, where you might expect them to be crunchy, and with the deep, developed porky taste of the very best carnitas. Splash a bit of brightly flavored tomatillo salsa on the tacos, and you're good to go.
Parked on the southwestern corner of Slauson Avenue and Olive Street in Los Angeles, a short block east of the Harbor Freeway.
-- Jonathan Gold
Photo credit: Jonathan Gold / Los Angeles Times