Gettin’ some tongue

no, not that kind of tongue. what kinda blog do you think i’m runnin’ here?if offal or meat cuts that actually look like the animal parts they come from make you feel at all squeamish, i advise you to skip this post and maybe check back in a few days. but just in case, let’s start off with something that [probably] won’t give anyone a serious case of the howling fantods.

at thanksgiving (no. 2) in england, my parents brought me all kinds of asian goodies to pacify the ridiculous withdrawal i’m going through in a little italian town where just hunting down some fresh ginger is an ordeal in itself. i was the lucky recipient of a big ol’ plastic jug of ba hou, taiwanese for pork sung (which is, i suppose, the english bastardized name that other chinese/taiwanese-americans call it) — the furry brown stuff on the bottom left. in the rear of the bowl, there’s a few little wei-chuan soy sauce pickles. both of these, together with the rice porridge (what my family calls muai (my sort of phonetic approximation)) underneath, make up the substance of much of my childhood. that is to say, being a kid was not at all like mushy, watery rice with condiments, but that we ate lots of this when i was growing up. most saturdays and maybe sundays, actually. and in fact, maybe i was suffering from a little homesickness this weekend, because i made myself some rice porridge when i got up yesterday and listened to ‘parsifal’. which is exactly what my father would do (except he’d probably listen to a beethoven sonata). and i chilled on the couch (which IS exactly what my father would do). a while ago, molly put up a post about her ultimate comfort food, and though i wrote at the time that grilled cheese and mac ‘n cheese were mine, i have to retract: rice porridge is my ultimate comfort food. but only if i have the pickles and dried deep-fried shredded pork (both of which are delicious, despite possible appearance to the contrary). the fried egg, over easy mom-style, is pretty compulsory too. i love me some grilled cheese, but it doesn’t totally, completely satisfy the way my muai does. it’s what my mom would give me when i had the flu or my stomach felt unsetlled (minus the pickles and furry pork, of course). it’s what i eat now when i’m hungry for home.

don’t say i didn’t warn you. this is half a cow tongue after a week of brining/curing/pickling/corning with some bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and juniper berries. i then prepared it with some direction from fergus henderson, boiling it for a few hours with carrots, onions, celery, parsley and more peppercorns and then peeling it while it was still hot. tongue is intensely beefy with a dense velvety-ness and much fattier than i’d ever thought. i rank it right up there among my favorite cuts, right next to sweetbreads. and yeah, it’s weird to think about eating tongue while eating tongue — it’s the thought of one’s tongue mingling with this other tongue that makes some a little queasy. so don’t think about it! as henderson claims, tongue is indeed excellent hot or cold, fried, in a sandwich — any way you slice it. i ate mine first

with farro and cicerchie, the chick pea-like legume i brought back from the marche a while ago, and here i’ve cooked it john thorne-style, for four hours in a clay pot in the oven. not as good as straight-up beans (they don’t keep their integrity as well), but they have an interesting soy nut-like flavor going on. tongue is especially tasty with a dab of german mustard. but my favorite way to eat tongue is with

salsa verde, which i made with parsley, anchovies, capers, a tiny sliver of garlic and a hard-boiled egg. (there’s something sort of weirdly -meta- about this meal, isn’t there? i mean, aside from the whole tongue-on-tongue thing, i’m also eating hard-boiled egg with a sauce made from hard-boiled egg.) this is bollito misto, my way. (that’s a boiled potato on the left.) (and traditionally, tongue is among the boiled meats served in traditional piedmontese bollito misto, along with various other parts of a cow’s head, maybe some cotechino sausage and any number of other assorted bits and pieces.) tongue and green sauce go ridiculously well together.

and because i just can’t help myself:

my sister did a 6k benefit santa run this weekend. what’s funnier than a big group of stretching santas? apparently, running in a supposedly one-size-fits-all (or none, as connie says) santa suit isn’t easy. what with the beard and all getting in your mouth.


3 Responses to “Gettin’ some tongue”

  1. 1 daisy December 14, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    nice tongue, winnie. i might try to make some offal myself, but i somehow don’t trust super 88’s meat department so much. well, i actually did do a tripe recipe (i think it was tripe cooked/braised in milk from henderson), but nobody else ate it but me. hmm. but with my lovely ice cream machine i’m going to be making that chocolate ice cream recipe in the back of that st john’s cookbook. i can’t wait.

  2. 2 foo December 14, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    winnie — I’m with you for the rice porridge being the ultimate comfort food. I forget if I told you about the series of rice-porridge-brunches I threw last month. Delicious and easy since everything comes out of the can or jar..

  3. 3 winnie December 17, 2005 at 7:27 am

    dude, daisy, i’ve been mulling over whether to get myself an ice cream maker over here. gelato is much more my style than this baking business. but i figure it might be best to get my hands on one of those manual hand-cranked ones? maybe i’m just a masochist. do you have the cuisinart one? i hear that’s the best.

    lately, i’m craving kidney.

    and yes, foo, there’s something pretty remarkable about the quality of the canned and dried asian food, isn’t there? i don’t think it’s possible to make those pickles from scratch. not to mention the pork sung. but dude, the thing i really wish i had over here are those pickled bamboo shoots in chile oil. holy crap, those are so good.

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