The real offal experiment continues… with a sheep tongue.
My attempt with the brain was fascinating but not incredibly tasty. Will the tongue taste better? If looks are any indication then the answer is a resounding no! Good god a tongue is an ugly piece of meat. None of the silkiness of a prime cut. No. It’s all ugly. It’s also a process.
To start a tongue needs to be brined – this is a familiar first step with organ meat. I used a combination of sugar, salt and spices. At that point, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my tongue or I would have put a mexican spin on my spice mixture. Instead I threw in a couple bay leaves, some black peppercorns, and some coriander. To keep the tongue submerged I put a pretty blue cup on it. And there is sat stewing for a few days.
The next step is to poach the tongue until tender using lots and lots of aromatics. At this point I still wasn’t sure about where my tongue would end up so I used the spices that Jennifer recommends in Odd Bits – onion, five spice, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. I mean how this tongue had any tongue flavour left is not something I can explain. It was loaded with spices.
Once the tongue was nice and soft, I poked it with a skewer, I removed it from the poaching liquid and very quickly peeled the now very bumpy outer layer off. The process of peeling the tongue isn’t too hard but is easiest when the tongue is hot so get on your rubber gloves and start tugging.
I wasn’t looking forward to eating the tongue until I remembered the secret to expanding my palate. For some reason, early in my life, I became obsessed with learning to like a wide variety of foods. The process is quite simple:
- Start with small amounts cut into small pieces combined with food you absolutely love, love, love. It is best if you cut the pieces of the food you don’t like into a similar size as the pieces you love. I call this step tricking yourself.
- Practice step one for a long period of time, until you firmly associate the new food item with deliciousness. At this point start decreasing the yummy food item and increasing the food you are hopefully starting to like at this point.
- Continue to eat the new food item covered in yummy sauces. By this point you should be starting to semi-enjoy the new food item and are well on your way to adding a new food to your diet.
In the case of sheep’s tongue I decided to bring out the big gun – chorizo sausage. Does anything taste bad when it’s fried up with chorizo? I would venture to say no.
- Onion – sliced thinly
- Jalapeno – sliced thinly
- Chorizo sausage – cut into small pieces
- Chili powder – 1 tablespoon
- Oil – for frying
- Poached and peeled sheep’s tongue – cut into small pieces
- Salt to taste
- Put the pan on medium heat and give it time to warm up (about five minutes). Pour about a tablespoon of oil into the pan and add the onion. Saute until golden brown.
- Add the chili powder and continue cooking for a few minutes. Now add the jalapeno peppers and chorizo sausage. Normally when I cook chorizo I like to render out some of the fat. Not when I’m eating it with tongue. I wanted this to be rich and fatty and delicious.
- Once the chorizo is almost cooked through, turn the heat down a bit and add the tongue. Heat until the tongue is hot and the chorizo is done. Mmmm… Chorizo sausage and tongue.
I served my chorizo and tongue fry-up on steamed rice. For toppings I used a squirt of lime juice, some chopped cilantro and slices of avocado. I love spice so I also added a drizzle of sriacha sauce.
Well much like the brain experiment, the tongue didn’t do it for me, even with the chorizo sausage. Having said that I did eat it all, which is saying something I suppose. The texture is quite smooth and the flavour wasn’t overly strong. I was amazed though that with all the aromatics and spices infused into the tongue, it still tasted like, well, tongue.
- It is really easy to cut chorizo up with kitchen scissors. Try it and you’ll never go back to a knife.
- I tried to find some information on the significance of eating tongue and couldn’t find anything. If anyone knows any lore around eating tongue, please share!
Shonagh writes An Offal Experiment – exploring the guts of food