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Aug 2, 2010 09:23 AM

Chinese Head Cheese?

One of my favorite childhood memories is going with my parents to Chinatown and going to this little hole-in-the wall, greasy-spoon and ordering several cold dishes they had in the display window such as the sliced jellyfish. One dish that I have not been able to find again is a type of sliced item that I can only describe as Chinese head cheese. No, it is not the pork bits in aspic that I've had at Chinese banquets that is typically served alongside other various Chinese "cold cuts." What I'm thinking of looks like marinated pig ears that have been molded together and sliced into sheets. It has a similar flavor to the pork aspic (dark and soy-rich), but it has a lot of long, very thin cartilage all throughout. I don't remember there being any pork fat, just a lot of solidified gelatin. I've dreamed about it since I think the place is long gone. I look for this dish from time to time when I'm in Chinatown, but haven't been successful in finding another place to get it. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

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  1. What era are you talking about when you saw this item? I think the banquet item you describe is pork hock and that's the only thing I can think of that remotely resembles what you are looking for. Could it just be a different style of pork hock?

    1. you don't happen to have a picture of it do you?

      there is a tian jin place in the golden mall in flushing that serves head cheese, but the description of what ure looking for sounds a bit different

      1. Not in Manhattan - in Flushing, perhaps at the Dongbei places. Something like this at Jiang Li - which they labeled Pig Ear but in fact I think it was just aspic...

        1. this is going back about 20 years. i doubt it's pork hock because of the fine lines of white cartilage that runs through the gelatin/aspic. unfortunately i do not have a picture...this was waaay back when i was in elementary school and i had never heard of a food blog. honestly, i haven't had it since then. i've never come across it in recent times. i may copy this into the outerboroughs forum. thanks all!

          2 Replies
          1. re: erised

            where exactly did you eat this? like geography wise b/c it doesn't sound like any cantonese food i've had (i've pretty much had most things growing up) and 20 yrs ago there weren't a ton of other types of chinese people here aside from some taiwanese

            1. re: Lau

              Yes, if it was Manhattan Chinatown in the 1980s or 1990s (or for that matter, LA, SF, Philly, Boston, Chicago, Houston etc.) it'd have to be Cantonese. I do remember an odd version of pork hock someplace that was quite different from what you usually see on the banquet cold plates--much denser, less gelatin. That's why I suggested it might be a version of that.

          2. May not be what you are looking for but Nancy Lee's PIG HEAVEN on the upper east side serves shredded pig's ears. So delicious with the shredded scallion and dipping sauce on the side. I can always hear better after eating it.