Recipe: Beef Tongue Street Tacos with Chili Sauce
I know that for many of you, tongue tacos sound gross, but you have to get over the “ick” factor and give these tacos a try. Simply amazing.
Most tongue tacos consist of plain tongue, usually boiled, sliced or cubed, and quickly sauteed. Mine go a bit further into the gourmet by browning the cubed tongue first, and then simmering it in a delicious chili and tomato puree. Served street style with cabbage, radishes, cilantro, and onion all on a corn tortilla, these tacos are addictive. I had to stop myself at 6 of them.
Tongue has a very strong beef flavor. It reminds me a bit of organ meet but without the strong iron/mineral taste most of us hate. It has a soft texture, but is firm and slightly chewy at the same time. If nobody told you that you were eating tongue, you’d just think you were eating a very flavorful pot roast. This is one piece of cow I will never shun again. Bring on the tongue!
How to Prepare Tongue for Cooking
Well, if there’s one part that is “gross” about cooking tongue, it is the step of removing the outer taste bud lining. It’s easy to do, but might make some a bit squeamish. Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil, then toss the tongue in it. Let the tongue boil for about 20 minutes, then remove. The outer lining will be bright white, and can be removed by pulling it off with your fingers as you run a knife between it and the meat. Make sure to get all the lining off the tongue (on all sides) as it is very chewy and not very tasty. Also, remove anything on the underside of the tongue that doesn’t look like it will be good eating.
You may also want to remove the large veins in the underside of the tongue. Just simply cut into the tongue about halfway between the center and edge, about the same place where you feel the veins on the underside of your own tongue in your mouth. Cut them out and discard.
Now that you have a cleaned tongue, you can slice, cube, or do what you will with it. For tongue tacos, simply cube the meat into 1/4 inch cubes.
Recipe for Tongue Tacos
- 1 medium size beef tongue, cleaned and cubed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 bunch radishes, sliced
- 1/4 medium onion, diced
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- Chili Sauce (recipe follows)
Heat olive oil in large pan until hot. Add tongue and season to taste with salt and pepper.
As the tongue cooks, it will release a lot of juices in the pan, which will create what looks like a very tasty brown gravy.
Cook on medium-high until the gravy evaporates and the tongue begins to brown. Brown the cubed tongue on all sides, tasting to make sure you have seasoned it well enough.
Add 3/4 of the chili sauce (recipe follows), cover, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, most of the water will have evaporated and it should look like this:
Reserve remaining ingredients for assembly.
Recipe for Street Taco Chili Sauce
- 4 Dried California Chili Pods
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic gloves, smashed
- 1/2 jalapeno, diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 cup water (preferably the water you softened the chilies in)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Start by steeping the chili pods in boiling water until soft, about 10 minutes. I like to use the water I will be boiling the tongue in later. Once the chilies are soft, remove the stems and place the pods in a blender along with all the other ingredients. Blend thoroughly. Place in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
How to Assemble Beef Tongue Street Tacos with Chili Sauce
Heat corn tortillas over medium high heat by dry toasting on a griddle. This will make them soft and pliable. Place between some kitchen towels to keep warm prior to assembling tacos.
Place a small amount of tongue on the tortilla, then add chopped cabbage, cilantro, onion, radishes, lime juice, and some of the reserved chili sauce.
Recipe by Jothan Yeager, November 2011
The Bald Gourmet creates authentic Mexican recipes with traditional ingredients like beef tongue.
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