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Som Pak with Pig Ears or Pig Tendon – Laos Fermented Cabbage

Learn how to make a delicious, flavorful dish for authentic Laos Som Pak pickled cabbage with crunchy pig ears which is a beloved side dish at family dinners with sticky rice.

There are two versions of Laos pickled cabbage – one with pig ears and one without. Pickled cabbage with pig ears are absolutely delicious due to the textures from the pig ears included. Often, pork tendon can also be used if pig ears are not available.

While most westerners would turn their nose at this dish, Fermented Cabbage with Pig Ears is an absolute delicacy in Southeast Asian countries.

Lao and Thai pickled cabbage known as Som Pak has a combination of hot, salty, and sweet flavors. The process involves fermentation and allowing the cabbage and pork ears to meld the flavors, often just sitting on top of your kitchen counter for a few days.

In this blog post, I wanted to share with you how to achieve this umami of flavors in a small side dish that combines delicious flavors and textures. For first generation families that live in the western world, this is one of those dishes that most grown kids will remember having a great time eating growing up.

All About Som Pak Pickled Cabbage with Pig Ears

What does Som Pak Pickled Cabbage with Pig Ears taste like?

Laos fermented cabbage with pig ears is a popular side dish that has flavors that meld sour and tart flavors with a crunchy texture.

What are other names for Som Pak Pickled Cabbage with Pig Ears?

When translating Lao typescript to English, phonetic variations of the cuisine’s spelling occur during the process. Below are some names this dish can be found under:

  • Som Pak Gai Lump
  • Som Pak Galum
  • Som Pak Ka Lump
  • Som Pacht

Indochina and regional versions of this dish include Vietnamese Dua Cai Chua (often without pig ears).

Asian Grocery Store List for Som Pak Fermented Cabbage with Pig Ears

Pork Tendons and Pig Ears

Pork tendons and pig ears can be found readily available in the meat market.

Tips and Tricks Before Making Rice Fermented Cabbage with Pig Ears

Choosing the Right Cabbage Head

You’ll want to pick a cabbage that feels light in weight. Cabbage with heavy leaves are generally too dense and take longer to ferment to taste.

Preparing the Pig Ears

Pig ears can be found in the meat market inside of most Asian grocery stores. Ensure that you follow the recipe below to prepare the pig ears for the dish.

Substitute for Pig Ears using Pork Tendons

You can use pork tendons (that can also be found at Asian Markets) as a substitute for pig ears in fermented pickled cabbage.

Four Cycles of Water and Salt

The salt and water rinsing cycles are important because they allow the cabbage to keep its crunchiness. Do not skip these steps.

How to Quicken the Fermentation Process

If you want to get the sour tart taste faster, you can add a teaspoon of cooked sticky rice into the mixture. However, this may not be practical for some people to make an entire serving of sticky rice in order to add a single teaspoon into this dish.

How to Make Authentic Laos Som Pak Cabbage and Pig Ears Recipe

Ingredients for Lao Som Pak Fermented Cabbage with Pork Tendons

  • 1  pig ear
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • ½ large cabbage head, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 bunch of green onion, cut into 2 inch slices
  • 5 tablespoons of salt, divided
  • 1 16 oz bottle of purified water

Prepare the Pig Ears

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
  2. Boil the pig ear for 1 hour. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  3. Slice thinly and wash with a salt water bath along with vinegar.
  4. Firmly squeeze the thinly sliced pig ear to remove moisture. Allow the slices to dry.
  5. Set aside.

Prepare the Fermentation of the Cabbage

  1. Get a colander and place it inside a large bowl. 
  2. For the first cycle, add in water into the bowl along with the cabbage, green onion, and tablespoon of salt. Combine the mixture with your hands while gently squeezing the cabbage mixture. Drain and rinse with water twice.
  3. Repeat the cycle three more times.
  4. During the tenth wash, remove the colander. Add in the cabbage mixture along with the sliced pig ear into the bowl without the calendar. Add in the last tablespoon of salt. Add in the bottle of purified water.
  5. Put the mixture into a clean container. 
  6. Pack the mixture really tight into the container. Put plastic wrap on the top of the mixture to prevent air.
  7. Add the lid. Leave on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours days. During the fermentation process over the day, it will start getting bitter and sour. Once it gets to taste, you can stop the fermentation process by putting it in the refrigerator.
  8. Serve with a main dish.

Preserving Som Pak Cabbage Pickled with Pig Ears Recipe

After refrigerating the Som Pak with Pig Ears in an airtight container, serve within 7 days.

Summary About Som Pak Pickled Cabbage with Pig Ears Recipe

I hope you loved this recipe or at least learned more about what it takes to make this dish. While it is definitely in acquired taste, I think everyone should keep an open mind and try it just once. Pickled cabbage with pig ears or pig tendon is a great accompaniment to a lot of different Asian dishes.

Other Recipes from Laos You Might Like

If you liked this Laos side dish, you might also love these recipes as well:

Som Pak with Pig Ears or Pig Tendon - Laos Fermented Cabbage

Som Pak with Pig Ears or Pig Tendon - Laos Fermented Cabbage

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Deliciously flavorful and full of texture - fermented cabbage with pork ears (also known as som pak gallum) is really easy to make with a handful of ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1  pig ear
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • ½ large cabbage head, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 bunch of green onion, cut into 2 inch slices
  • 5 tablespoons of salt, divided
  • 1 16 oz bottle of purified water

Instructions

Prepare the Pig Ears

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
  2. Boil the pig ear for 1 hour. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  3. Slice thinly and wash with a salt water bath along with vinegar.
  4. Firmly squeeze the thinly sliced pig ear to remove moisture. Allow the slices to dry.
  5. Set aside.

Prepare the Fermentation of the Cabbage

  1. Get a colander and place it inside a large bowl. 
  2. For the first cycle, add in water into the bowl along with the cabbage, green onion, and tablespoon of salt. Combine the mixture with your hands while gently squeezing the cabbage mixture. Drain and rinse with water twice.
  3. Repeat the cycle three more times.
  4. During the tenth wash, remove the colander. Add in the cabbage mixture along with the sliced pig ear into the bowl without the calendar. Add in the last tablespoon of salt. Add in the bottle of purified water.
  5. Put the mixture into a clean container. 
  6. Pack the mixture really tight into the container. Put plastic wrap on the top of the mixture to prevent air.
  7. Add the lid. Leave on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours days. During the fermentation process over the day, it will start getting bitter and sour. Once it gets to taste, you can stop the fermentation process by putting it in the refrigerator.
  8. Serve with a main dish.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 52Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 7984mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g

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