Strange Food Spotlight: Ears in Madrid

I’m thrilled that my dear foodie friend and ex-sevillana Lauren Aloise suggested we do a series of blog exchanges. Lauren is a talented writer and brilliant cook, and her blog Spanish Sabores is a great resource on Spanish food, recipes and dining in Madrid. Our first exchange? Writing about strange foods in our respective cities – mine is a reprise of my springtime favorite, snails. Be sure to check out her Madrid Food tour if you’re ever in Spain’s capital for an authentic food tour with someone who knows plenty!

Spain is full of bizarre foods, including insect-looking shellfish, any organ you can imagine, slimy snails and Madrid’s famed specialty, pig ear.

El Tapón: Oreja a la plancha


Oreja a la plancha (grilled pigs’ ears) is a Madrileño delicacy and you can find the dish being served in the city’s most authentic tapas bars and neighborhood taverns. Other establishments opt to serve oreja en salsa, a tasty dish of stewed ear served with either a mild tomato sauce or a spicy brava sauce.

So what does pig’s ear taste like? Well, it is actually pretty delicious! They are crunchy on the outside because of the cartilage (but not too chewy either) with a great flavor that is really complemented by the spicy brava sauce (my recommendation). I know they aren’t for everyone, but why not try something different with a group of friends the next time you are in Madrid?

The best place to try oreja a la plancha is definitely La Oreja del Oro, located at Calle de la Victoria, 9 right in the center of Madrid near the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol. It is an authentic Madrid tapas bar, so if you don’t like the oreja you have plenty of other delicious Spanish specialties to choose from.
casa toni patatas bravas


A Quick Recipe for Salsa Brava 

1/2 onion

1 garlic clove

1 chopped medium tomato

1 t sugar

1 t cayenne pepper

1 t smoked Spanish paprika (hot or sweet)

A splash of sherry vinegar (you can substitute red wine vinegar if you want)

1 t flour

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper


1. Brown the onion and garlic in the oil at a low heat.

2. Add the cayenne, flour, and paprika and stir constantly for 1 minute so that nothing sticks or burns.

3. Add the diced tomato and season with the sugar. Cook at medium for 15 minutes.

4. Add the vinegar and mix.

5. When it is reduced to the right texture, take off the heat and let cool.

6. Season with salt and pepper then puree in the blender and you have your brava sauce!

Lauren Aloise is the founder of Madrid Food Tour. An optimistic entrepreneur and self-proclaimed professional tapa taster, shewrites,tweets, andcooks out of her tiny Madrileño apartment.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Love salsa brava… patatas bravas!

  2. Thanks, I need to try this.

  3. I need to give these another try, but a la plancha–I’ve had them in a soup and found the texture was squishy and slimy!

  4. Call me an unadventurous guiri if you like, but I think i’ll pass on the pig’s ears

  5. I’ve never had them in soup– sounds even stranger!

  6. Yes! I remember having pigs ears in Madrid too — somewhere near plaza del sol, I wonder if it was the place you recommended? There is a photo of them here…

    • I remember you talking them up, too! I do think chochos were probably your favorite, though. Excited to see the new blog!! Any chance you’ll be in America this summer? I’d venture to guess no with your recent trip…


  1. […] out my article on Cat’s blog about Eating Ears in Madrid! What is your favorite strange Spanish food? Filed Under: Food, Guest Posts, Seville, Spanish […]

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