Guys, we’re good friends by now, right? And we can tell each other anything? Well. I have to tell you….that I’ve dabbled in the “Nasty Bits.” I don’t think I will ever develop any real affection for chicken feet or monkey brains (I haven’t tried brains…and not sure that I ever will!), but tongue? Well, now that’s just good eats.
My first experience with pork tongue was in Hong Kong. I was a fairly new missionary, and a church member had invited my companion and I to eat dinner at her house. Just before we arrived, she had run down to the street market and come back with a bag of mixed meat, as far as I could tell. It all was pork, but most of the pieces had bones in them. I was unfamiliar with the skill of nibbling the meat off the tiny bones, and then spitting the bones out. Frustrated, I looked into the bowl for something that might not be all bone. Finally, I found something that looked like it was all meat. Excited, I picked it up with my chopsticks, tapped it off on my rice, and brought it up to my mouth. Only then did I really look at it. It was the front three inches of a tongue. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I didn’t want to offend my hostess, so I carefully ate it. I couldn’t get over the fact that I had two tongues in my mouth, and only one was for chewing.
It wasn’t until I met my mother in law that I had pork tongue again. And I have to say, hers is delicious. The meat itself has very little flavor – just a vague reminiscence of organ meat. The marinade is so fragrant, full of garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Are you ready to get started?
First, pick out your meat. Just choose a package with tongues that are…pretty. Or at least, not overly ugly!
Prepare a small pot of water over high heat. When the water starts to boil, add in your tongues. They only need to cook for about 5 minutes, just until the outside turns white.
Pull them out and…well, this is the most time consuming part. All that white part? It needs to come off. My mother in law uses a paring knife, and about 45 minutes, to clean off 3 tongues.
The white part is tough, and not good eats.
Once you get the tongues cleaned off, set them aside and pull out some mui choi (salted turnip). You don’t need too much…just about 12” of it. Run it under cool water to clean off any extra dirt and some of the salt. Chuck your mui choi into a small bowl of water, and set it aside.
Now, it’s time for some flavor! Grab your pot, make sure it’s reasonably dry, and add about 1 Tbsp. oil, two cloves of garlic (smashed and minced) and two slices of ginger (also, smashed and minced). Cook over medium heat until you can smell the ginger and garlic and the oil is hot. (This cooking method is called “bau”, and it’s pretty standard practice for almost any Cantonese recipe.) Once the oil is hot and fragrant, add in your cleaned pork tongue. Stir those around to coat in oil, then add 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (si yau), 1 Tbsp. tamari (lou chau) and 1/2 tsp. salt.
When your soy sauce mixture has come to a boil, add 1/2 cup water, cover, and cook until the tongues are tender, about 30 minutes. While the tongues cook, go and find your mui choi. Cut it into bite sized pieces, and throw them into the pot about half way through the cooking time. (This cooking process is called “mun”, and is basically braising…on the stove. Right?)
To serve, slice the tongue into 1/8” slices and serve with rice.
MaMa’s Braised Pork Tongue
Makes 3 pork tongues
3 pork tongues
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
2 slices of garlic, smashed and minced
1 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce (tamari or lou chau)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water
1 piece of mui choi (salted turnip), washed, soaked and chopped.
1. Boil your tongues in a pot of water for 5 minutes, or until the outside turns white.
2. Remove from heat and carefully clean off the white outer layer from all three tongues. Dump out your water.
3. In the pot, add your oil, garlic and ginger. Heat until fragrant, then add in your tongues. Stir to coat, then add in soy sauce, dark soy sauce and salt.
4. Heat until boiling, then add water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Add mui choi, cover and cook another 15 minutes, or until tender.
Slice and serve with rice. Enjoy!