There are many types of people when it comes to meat: The ones who can not bear to touch or the smell when cooking but eat it as long as they are not involved in the process, those who would not touch, smell or eat any meat and the ones who can handle pretty much any meat and eat it as well. Or maybe selective ones like my mom, whose stomach can not handle cleaning fish but can easily make meatballs.
I am almost like my grandmother. I believe that if I can handle eating it, I should also clean and cook it. I can not kill my meat, that is the only difference between us. But I am sure if I am trained, I can handle that as well.
In Turkey, as opposed to what you might think, we are not only eating kebabs and doner (gyros) all the time. We make use of different parts of animals and try not to waste any edible part. For example, my dad used to make a killer tripe soup which is the best cure for late night drinking and hangover. We use kidney in several very common dishes. Oh my fried liver! Let’s not forget the heart as well. And there are several dishes that might be hard to convince some people to eat: Kokorec (filled sheep intestines) as a quick street food, lamb brain and thinly sliced beef tongue as appetizer at your raki table.
As my grandfather said many times “if we paid for the whole animal, we will eat the whole animal!”
Cooking and preparing tongue requires you to get over the”gross” factor if you are not used to it. First of all, the tongue is in one piece, in tongue shape, very recognizable which Jay finds it hard to look at and also eat because of that. Secondly,a white-grayish skin covers the whole tongue which becomes more visible and harder after it cooks. Then you have to peel that skin off, leaving the meat exposed. After that, still reserving the tongue shape, you wrap it with a plastic wrap, keep it in the fridge for a while. The colder it gets, the easier it is to slice it against the grain.
The beef tongue has a lean, light taste, almost bland that does not overpower the dishes. I love it especially when it is cold but just because that is how I was used to it since I was a child. You can make a onion-herb relish to serve it on a slice of toasted crusty bread. For a whole week, they were my deli meat in the sandwiches. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Latin cuisine has some delicious tongue dishes. I ate some of them in Bolivia several years back which makes me crave for them now. I loved the stew there and I am hoping to make it once the weather gets cooler. Since Jay finds the whole process unappetizing, maybe I can get it done when he is not around and make it “unrecognizable” in a stew!
So what kind are you? How close do you get to your meat?
- ~2 lbs beef tongue
- 4-5 bay leaves
- 1 small red onion
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- Salt and pepper
1. Wash the tongue and put in a big stock pot. Add enough water to cover the whole tongue.
2. Bring it to a boil, boil several minutes, skim the foam off of the top and discard.
3. Add bay leaves, several pinches of salt and one pinch of black pepper. Add more water if necessary to cover. On a medium heat, simmer gently for 4-5 hours, until it is cooked.
4. Once cooked, turn off the stove and let it cool in the pot without draining.
5. After it cools, peel the skin off and cut any fat at the back of the tongue. Scrape off any visible skin with the knife.
6. Wrap it in plastic, keep it in the fridge for several hours, before slicing and serving on a bed of red onion and parsley. Sprinkle more salt if necessary.