Japanese Family Recipe: Tongue Stew


Ms. Hiroko Shimbo is the author of The Japanese Kitchen, the book which started my adventure into Japanese home cooking; she is the source of many of the delectable recipes on my blog.You must read the very charming post on her blog when she reminisced about her mother’s cookingwhile she was growing up. (16 mar 09)Among many delicious dishes she recalled enjoying was tongue stew.

That made me curious because I’d made my version recently, so I commented that I’d be interested in the recipe.

She called her mother, who hadn’t made it for a long time. Hiroko’s mother and her sister collaborated to make this delicious stew. You will find their recipe and notes they made in preparing the meal on her blog.

One time, on our way out of Chicago, we stopped at a taqueria for lunch in the car. Mr. Tess grinned when he handed me a taco from the bag. I’d eaten most of it before he asked how I liked it; after examining the filling I was at a loss for what it was. He said it was a taco de lengua and I finally realized it was tongue. That was my first time.
I was hooked! I learned how to cook a beef tongue and could assemble a mean taco de lengua. But tongue is not a cut of meat regularly stocked at my usual stores, so after a while I only ate it in restaurants. Then last spring, Mr. Tess went grocery shopping, and came home with a frozen 3 pound tongue! No room in the freezer!! And I was working on making my way through a Japanese cookbook!
So began my first foray into Japanese tongue.
grilled-tongue_4137 Gyutan: Grilled Tongue — 08 feb 09
Give thy thoughts no tongue. (~Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3)
Online I found a recipe using thinly-sliced raw tongue grilled teppan-yaki style with a dash of sea salt and lemon. Three pounds of tongue is a lot of grilling so I saved ½ for another recipe.
Gyutan Japanese Beef Tongue Stew Gyutan Stew (Japanese Stew w Veal Tongue) — 09 feb 09
Gyutan may have originated in the north; Hokaido has land flat enough for cows. In Sapporo people enjoy grilled lamb, called  Jingisukan or Mongolian barbecue! But grilling in winter did not appeal. Then I remembered Hiroko Shimbo’s Lamb Stew.
 Ramu no Nikomi Hiroko-fu Lamb Stew, Japanese Style — 12 feb 08
Western ingredients (lamb & balsamic vinegar) and techniques (mirepoix—sauteed vegetables stewed with the meat—then pureed with the broth to thicken it) combined with Japanese ingredients (sake, mirin, shoyu, miso, & konbu) and techniques (cooking the vegetables separately from the meat—see “Braised Beef in Japanese Style”). The result: certainly Japanese,but also comforting in a familiar way.
Beef Tongue Stew Second Time Around — 02 apr 09
Mr. Tess made dinner tonight! A nice salad, with olives and his wonderful fried potatoes. And of course, something from the freezer: Gyutan Stew. (See the link above.) That stew, and the new version I’m posting today both freeze very well. I love a cook-once eat-twice recipe!
When I made tacos de lengua, i just washed the tongue and simmered it with spices. The skin peels off easily when the meat is cooked. Of course, when I made the teppan-yaki tongue, I needed raw slices. Cow tongues are tough! They are covered with projections, called papillae, which contain the taste buds. At the back they are coarse, while the buds at the tip are tiny and only just rough. Close up, they could be called beautiful.
It was not clear whether to peel the tongue before stewing it or no. Ever the diplomat I compromised by boiling the tongue until it turned white.
Shimo-furi (quick dipping) is used for quickly dipping fish, chicken, and beef in boiling water so that the outside turns white. It’s then dipped in cold water so the heat will not penetrate the inside. This holds in flavor, removes the sliminess and fishy odor, excess oil, blood. For tuna and other fish whose meat crumbles easily, shimo-furi firms the outside making it easier to grill. (This was not “quick dipping:” it took 10 minutes to become white.)
I had to use a sharp knife, but I wasn’t battling a cold slippery beast. Like most compromises, the parboiling worked reasonably well though not perfectly.
The link to Hiroko Shimbo’s Mother’s and sister’s tongue stew recipe is up top.
Peeling the tongue before cooking does not seem to be necessary.
I used a large wide pot so had to add more liquid to cover the tongue. As a result, I added more vegetables, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and I had to make more roux.
Not a worry to have extra sauce: When the tongue is gone, I’ll use it as a flavorful base for another stew or sauce! Yummmm!
Mashed potatoes would be better than the pasta, though the wagon wheels hold a lot of tasty sauce as you spoon them into your mouth!

Ushi tan


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