Friday, July 08, 2005

Gastronomy Domine III

High time we got back to food. For you relative newbies, I've previously discussed the Ultimate Coffee Experience (including Vietnamese Iced Coffee and Indonesian Crappucino) and the Joy of Liver. Today, let's visit the food that tastes you back.
Beef tongue. Glorious beef tongue. Why is that so many foods I despised as a child I now regard as delicacies? Tongue, chopped chicken liver, eggplant, pine nuts, cantaloupe: as a kid, these foods brought me to tears, but when I eat them now, I have happy memories of childhood. Where's the logic in that? A funny thing happened when I went googling for the above image. Fortunately for my wife, it never occurred to me I could surf the net to find attractive Japanese women who share my passion for tongue. This young woman could ask me for tongue, and by God, I'd give it to her. Just like this: Boiled Tongue (Adapted from Julia Child and Simone Beck, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II) A tongue bought fresh from the market is already several days old. Don't leave it around in the fridge for another few days -- it won't improve with age. Instead, scrub it under cold water and then soak it in cold water for two hours. Next, cover with a thick layer of Kosher salt and wrap in plastic. Store in the refrigerator for two days. If your tongue weighs 3 to 4 pounds, you won't need to soak it afterwards. Simply rinse off the salt and toss your tongue into a stock pot. Cover it with water -- Julia recommends five inches over the tongue. Add a bouquet of herbs. Garlic and bay leaves are essential; add juniper berries if you want a corned beef flavor (but if you come over to my house, I won't serve you that kind of tongue, nosirree). I add celery, onion, and carrots to the stock pot as well. You'll end up with a deliciously rich soup if you do. This is where people mess up. They don't cook it long enough, and they end up with a fibrous nightmare which, yes, licks you back when you eat it. Simmer it at least 3 hours, preferably 3.5 or 4. You ought to be able to easily pierce the base of the tongue with a knife. Plunge the cooked tongue into ice water. Slit it down the side with a sharp knife or razor, and then peel the tongue the way you would pull an undersized glove off a very sweaty hand. The end result should remind you of pot roast, but with far more richness. Well simmered tongue has a melt-in-your-mouth quality. If it's chewy, you screwed the pooch and undercooked it. Too bad. Classicly, tongue is sliced thin and served on rye bread with stone ground mustard, red onion, and pickles, but I prefer soft tacos. For that, you need a quarter-inch dice of tongue meat. Quickly stir fry it over high heat (only to warm it -- it's already cooked) and serve over fried corn tortillas with a garnish of finely chopped white onion and cilantro. Top with salsa.
Yup: If Ayumi had some of that tongue, I'd have her begging for more. What are your comfort foods? D.


Blogger mm said...

ha! Speaking of cow's tongue and memories - I wrote this a year ago and never dreamed I'd find a place where it would go. But I think it compliments your blog entry nicely.

Your dad's truck, a dirt
road, starlight, and
I am reminded of

cow's tongue, pickled
and served with boiled cabbage.

Can we just be friends


7/09/2005 03:22:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

That's a good one, Maureen. Who were you dating -- Mick Jagger, or Gene Simmons?

7/09/2005 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

My darling wife, whose family ran a dairy farm when we were first engaged, told me one night as we dined at her parents' place that we were eating roast beef. I was impressed; it was far more moist* than any roast beef I'd ever had before.

After supper, she said, "That was beef tongue."

I said, "Oh."

She said, "Would you eat it again?"

I considered. "Yes," I said, "if you didn't tell me in advance."

* Moister?

7/09/2005 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...


7/09/2005 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

I love tongue.

But then, I also like Haggis and blood soup, I've braved Swedish surströmming and German Saumagen, so I'm either not much of a gourmet or those things are better than oysters (which I don't like).

Here's a nice site for aspiring gourmets. :D

7/09/2005 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

That is a fun site, Gabriele. Here's a funny quote from his bit about doggy bacon: "The bitter nastiness literally got worse with every chew, and I was overcome by the urge to go in the backyard and eat grass until it was all out of me."

So -- you need to tell us what surstromming and Saumagen are. Blood soup I don't need to know about. If it's anything like blood sausage, I'm already right there with you. Yum!

7/09/2005 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Well, surströmming is fish gone bad, the Swedish version of the Beijing Duck. Saumagen is the stomach of a pig filled with chopped up bits of the pig that won't go into any decent meal, plus some spices and onions. Cook a few hours.

Actually, surströmming isn't bad once you've got over the smell. Like some cheese.

7/10/2005 07:24:00 AM  
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