Beef Tongue is finally back in fashion after a decades long hiatus.
With soft tender meat that has both lean and fattier parts, this weird-looking organ meat has a lot going for it so don’t be put off by its appearance.
In today's article we answer the most common questions on this gem of a cut:
What is Beef Tongue?
What does Beef Tongue Taste Like?
Is Beef Tongue Healthy?
Where to buy Beef Tongue
How to Clean and Prepare Beef Tongue
Why peel the skin
How to Cook Beef Tongue
3 Beef Tongue Recipes
What is Beef Tongue?
This cut of beef is taken from the tongue of a cow or ox. Hence the reason it is more commonly known as cow tongue to some consumers.
The beef tongue typically comes as a whole piece, which you may then cut or slow cook depending on the dish you plan to create.
Although its appearance may seem a little off-putting at first, beef tongue is a delicious delicacy in many parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asia and Central and South America. In Japane, Beef Tongue is called Gyutan which is thinly sliced beef tongue which is then grilled with salt and citrus.
Gyutan is the Japanese word for cow (gyu) and the English word tongue (tan).
Beef tongue cut is a primary ingredient in Mexican-style barbacoa tacos. Sliced beef tongue is also often featured as a meat option at Korean Barbeque restaurants.
The delicacy was also quite popular in the United States until the end of WW2, though it has increased in popularity during the last few years due to an upsurge of interest in nose-to-tail butchery and cooking.
We believe that its appearance may have contributed to its recent decline. But as those who enjoy organ meats know, looks can be deceiving and beef tongue is no different!
What Does Beef Tongue Taste Like?
Ox Tongue as it is also known is well worth trying out at least once in your lifetime. The meat boasts a mild, somewhat fatty flavor since it consists of pure muscle. The closest thing most people will relate to is a Roast Beef type consistency and fattiness.
When cooked, it has a lovely melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Since the cow tongue, (and just like roast beef) is quite bland on its own, the seasonings and cooking techniques you employ will contribute to its flavor.
When boiling beef tongue, you may want to add other spices to the salted water if you intend to serve it directly after. It produces a buttery-like texture that tastes great in soups paired with noodles and fresh vegetables.
Some of the best seasonings to include are black pepper, garlic, oregano, parsley, and bay leaves. Other ingredients like onions, carrots, celery, and beef (or vegetable) stock make fantastic additions as well.
Is Beef Tongue Healthy? Nutritional Benefits
Eating protein-packed cow tongue is excellent for your physical and mental health with plenty of nutritional benefits.
100 grams of Beef tongue contains:
19 g Protein
22g Fat inc 7g Saturated Fat
Vitamin B12: 44% DV
Choline: 24% DV
Zinc: 29% DV
Beef Tongue is technically muscle meat and to that end, it has a wider nutrient profile than steaks.
Due to the nutrient density, beef tongue, along with other organ-based meat cuts, is often recommended to pregnant women.
Cow tongue may also aid your overall brain function and nervous system when eaten regularly. It also contains a substantial amount of heart-healthy fatty acids.
Where To Buy Cow Tongue?
When looking to buy cow tongue, your best bets are to order it from a craft butcher, meat market, or search online for an online butcher that stocks it.
Ensure the Cow Tongue is well packgaed and ideally vacuum packed for freshness and food safety.
At TruBeef, we always stock Organic Grass-Fed Beef Tongue which is also Verified Pasture-Raised and non-GMO Project Verified so our customers are assured of a very cleanly sourced product free of any chemicals.
One place you will not find cow tongue is in a mainstream supermarket.
Beef Tongue Price
Expect to pay anything from $9 to $14 per lb for Beef Tongue with conventionally raised/grain fed being the cheaper and organic/grass-fed the more expensive option.
With an average cow tongue weight of 2lbs , that is $18 to $28 per whole piece.
How To Clean and Prepare Beef Tongue
The beef tongue may become overly chewy if cooked incorrectly. Thus, it is imperative to remember to cook it long and slow to achieve the optimal texture.
You should first boil the beef tongue for at least two to three hours, which will be handy in removing the tough outer skin.
Be sure that you have enough water in your soup pot to cover the cow tongue entirely.
We also suggest salting your water for added flavor as a mini brine.
After boiling the beef tongue, allow it to cool before removing the skin since you do not want to burn your hands.
You may do so using an ice bath or let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then, scrape any remaining grit with a sharp knife.
Why Should You Peel Beef Tongue?
You should always peel your beef tongue before cooking it to attain the optimal texture. Its skin tends to be tough, gritty, and slightly bumpy.
Beef tongue is easy to peel after boiling it for at least two and a half to three hours.
Allow the beef tongue to cool for at least five to seven minutes before peeling off the skin to avoid burning your hands.
You may even toss the tongue into an ice bath immediately after boiling to speed up the process. This part can be tricky because it becomes difficult to remove if you wait too long, especially along the cow tongue’s underside.
Beef Tongue, How To Cook: 3 Great Beef Tongue Recipe Ideas
Even though cooking cow tongue may seem complex to beginners, it is rather simple to incorporate into different meals. From pan-frying to slow cooking, there is a myriad of cooking techniques and beef tongue recipe ideas to employ when preparing this fascinating cut of beef.
Below we will provide a few stellar dishes featuring beef tongue that you can make from the comfort of your kitchen regardless of skill level.
Slow Cooker Beef Tongue Barbacoa Tacos
Beef Tongue (also known as Lengua) Barbacoa tacos are a well-known Mexican delicacy served across the globe.
While just about any beef may be prepared Barbacoa-style, we find that it is one of the best ways to serve cow tongue. You can slow cook your meat in an instant pot, pressure cooker or crockpot for a straightforward weeknight taco meal.
Barbacoa is a cooking technique, originating in Puerto Rico, referring to slow-cooking meat with plenty of tasty seasonings.
It has a tangy taste with a nick spice kick that pairs well with the mild beef tongue flavors. The spices used most often include cloves, garlic, chipotle peppers, onion, chili powder, oregano, cumin, lime juice, and apple cider vinegar.
Beef Tongue Sandwich Cold Cuts
Sliced beef tongue cold cuts are highly versatile. You will likely find the delicacy at Korean Barbecue restaurants or at Chinese-style Hot Pot, a tabletop cooking method of boiling food in a flavorful stock.
You may also incorporate them into delicious and nutritious sandwiches on sourdough bread with hot mustard which are pretty popular in South American cuisine.
One popular dish is the Cemitas de Lengua (Mexican tongue sandwich) that features beef tongue, avocados, black beans, onions, sour cream, Oaxaca cheese, and sliced tomatoes nestled on top of a soft cemita roll
Pan-Fried Beef Tongue
Pan-frying your cow tongue is an easy and tasty way to prepare this beef off-cut. Cut the meat into thin slices after boiling and carefully remove the skin from the tongue.
Allow it to cook for approximately five minutes at high heat and another three minutes at medium heat until it appears crispy.
Flip and repeat the same process until done. Serve with some fresh stir-fried vegetables and enjoy. You may also include the sliced beef tongue in fajitas or salads.
We suggest frying in grass-fed butter or ghee with fresh bay leaves for a flavor-packed dish. However, you may use olive oil or any other cooking oil you have on hand. You should also add some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin beforehand as a light seasoning to counteract the meat’s mild taste.
- Beef Tongue is also know as Ox Tongue, Cow Tongue, or Lengua.
- Cow Tongue, once a popular cut has begun to show a resurgence in popularity due to increased interest in food waste and nose-to-tail eating.
- Beef tongue is both versatile and tasty.
- Taste and consistency are quite similar to roast beef with both lean and fatty parts.
- You must pre-boil cow tongue first then peel the skin off.
- Great for Barbacoa tacos, sandwiches, as cold cuts, or panfried.
- The Cow Tongue is nutrient-dense and a great source of iron, choline, fatty acids, and vitamin B12.