Beef tongue belongs in the category of foods that you wonder, why on earth someone would want to eat it, and once you taste it, you hate yourself for not having tried it sooner.
In this post, I introduced:
After 30 years of living in China, there’s no piece of offal that seems strange to me. However, I don’t usually cook with offal (except pork feet). My mom was not at all enthusiastic about me cooking with offal. As a result, I didn’t have the chance to cook much of it, as compared to many Chinese households.
After moving to the US, the chance to cook offal seemed even rarer, since people do not have the habit of eating strange parts of an animal. To my surprise, I found beef tongue at H-E-B and didn’t have to travel 40 minutes to the Asian market. (HEB is the Texas equivalent of a Safeway, Kroger, or Albertsons).
Raw beef tongue is not even a common product in China. You can get a cooked one at the market. But raw tongue is considered a luxury ingredient and you are more likely to find it on the menu of a Korean or Japanese BBQ restaurant.
Later on, I learned that Mexican cuisine also uses beef tongue extensively, where it’s called lengua. There is even a famous taco dish called tacos de lengua. Although I’d never tried these tacos before, I couldn’t wait to try cooking them at home, after my friend and reader Tom shared his favorite tacos de lengua recipe with me (adapted from the slow cooker lengua from Allrecipes).
To my total surprise, cooking beef tongue is the easiest thing in the world. Even easier than cooking with regular beef. You simply need to add a few herbs and slow cook it for a few hours. That’s it. Whenever you want to serve it, simply slice it into smaller pieces, sprinkle some salt on it, and brown it in a hot pan. What you get is a piece of meat that has a rich beefy flavor, a crispy crust, and a buttery texture.
Beef tongue is definitely something I’ll add to my daily recipe list. Because:
- It’s cheap. I got a 3-pound beef tongue for $15, which is good for 2 to 3 very tasty meals for two of us.
- It’s so easy to prepare. You only need 5 minutes to prep it. That’s all.
- It stays good in the fridge for a week, so you can use the leftovers to cook other cool things.
- It’s even tastier than beef (try it once and you’ll believe me). The science behind this – beef tongue has a very good ratio of protein to fat (Its fat content per ounce is double the amount found in beef brisket and one third that in foie gras). You will render some extra fat after boiling it, and even more after searing. In the end, you can get a very crispy crust and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
The most basic way to serve beef tongue is to slice it really thin, sprinkle sea salt on it, and sear until crispy. It’ll be a wonderful snack or appetizer that goes well with beer.
How to Cook Beef Tongue
To learn more delicious beef tongue recipes, click the buttons below.
How to Cook Beef Tongue
- 1 beef tongue
- 1/2 big onion , sliced (White or Yellow)
- 5 to 8 cloves of garlic
- 1-2 bay leaves
- Sea salt to taste
- Put beef tongue, onion, garlic and bay leaves in a slow cooker and add enough water to cover tongue. Cook overnight on low. You can also gently boil it on the stovetop for 2 hours to 3 hours, until the beef tongue turns very tender.
- When tongue is cool enough to handle, peel off and discard rough tongue skin.
- Cut tongue in 1/2-inch slices across grain then into 1/2-inch cubes. It can also be shredded or sliced, depend on the dish you cook. If you won’t serve the tongue soon, store in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the fridge up to 5 days.
- When ready to serve, heat oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tongue pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until tongue is well browned on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes total. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tacos de Lengua
After cooking the beef tongue, of course we made tacos with it. The tacos had very simple toppings – homemade salsa, red onion, queso casera, and cilantro. I suppressed my urge to dump cheese and sour cream on it. After one bite, I realized it really didn’t need any more toppings. The beef tongue was so powerful a touch of homemade salsa and fresh cheese was just perfect 🙂
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it #omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Chinese Beef Tongue Salad
After making tacos, I started to spin off from the original recipe. I tried it the Chinese way, and served the beef tongue in a savory hot sauce, and it was SO GOOD.
Although we have some beef tongue dishes in China, I like my version much better.
The traditional Chinese way of serving beef tongue is to slow cook it with many herbs (such as cooking wine, soy sauce, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, etc.). Let it marinate overnight. Then serve it cold with a garlicky, savory sauce.
However, I realized the texture of beef tongue gets much better if you sear it and serve it warm. Plus, you can add as much flavor as you want afterwards, in the sauce. This means you just need one simple recipe, the one listed on the first page, to slow cook the beef tongue, and you can then use it in many different cuisines.
So here it is – the Chinese beef tongue salad with chili oil and seasoned soy sauce, developed from a Mexican recipe 🙂
Chinese Beef Tongue Salad
- 1 cup slow cooked beef tongue , thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Chinese chili oil
- Chopped green onion to garnish
- Mix everything except the green onion until the solid ingredients are dissolved.
- Heat oil in a nonstick skillet until hot. Cook the beef tongue until both sides are charred. Transfer to a plate.
- Pour the mixed sauce over the beef tongue and garnish with green onion. Add more chili oil if necessary.
- Serve warm over rice or on top of green salad.
Questions and Reviews
Beef tongue is hands down my fav cut of beef. I also slow cook it and can honestly just eat slices of straight outta the slow cooker. Soooo good. Love the tacos and the sliced and seared version looks really good too. Unfortunately it’s not cheap where I live/shop. It used to be but it’s kinda hard to find these days.
Sam’s club or Costco is a good place to get tongue, or a Mexican market also if you have one near you. The tongue and ox tail is the best 2 cuts on a cow.
I know huh
Mmmm these look yummy! I’m a fan of trying new things and I love my Mexican food so I’m definitely going to try making them. Just wanted to tell you that I love your photos!
Thanks for your kind words Lucy! Happy cooking and hope the dish turns out great!
Maggie, you must be in Texas? I live in McAllen, TX. near the gulf, and love shopping at HEB. Locals refer to my HEB as the GucciB because of the fancy foods found there, high end wine selection, and huge international foods section… It’s fabulous! I had to comment on this post because I love tongue, both dishes sound fabulous, but most of all, I love that you’re educating people on a fabulous protein. Bravo!
Hi Tamara, yes I lives in Austin, Texas. So glad to know another Texan blogger 🙂
Isn’t HEB the best? I’m so agree with you, they have a great collection, with a very reasonable price! I shop there every week.
Beef tongue is such an amazing cut, so I really hope more people would like to give it a try! A must-write post 😉
Have a great week ahead!
It’s really interesting to see a recipe for something unusual like this, Maggie!
I remember when I was little my grandma used to serve tongue with a salad for a buffet dinner and I was really shocked when I found out that it was actually a cow’s tongue. I thought that was just what it was called!
I LOVE your photos in this post, too. Just gorgeous with that blue background!
I won’t tell it’s a beef tongue if someone prepares the food for me and does not tell me what’s in it. So tasty isn’t it?
This is my first time to cook with beef tongue and I’m totally hooked. It’s so simple to make and you can use it in many other dishes!
I was excited to cook this and looking at the ingredients and cook time, I thought it would fit in with our evening perfectly. However, when I actually went to make it, the directions say OVERNIGHT. The original cook time only says 1 hour! Bummed out, but still looking forward to those tacos.
Hi Heather, sorry that my initial cooking time stated in the recipe was misleading. I usually cook it on stove top in a pan instead of a slow cooker, so it usually takes me 2 to 3 hours, not overnight. I hope your tacos turn out well!
Hi guys This was awsome and I realy liked it.
I have a meat market in my small South Dakota town that gives me all the offal and beef bones I want for free. I have 4 tongues 5 hearts and 10 lbs of beef liver in the freeser and was wondering how to cook the tongue and heart…
How do I view the two tongue recipes? All I can see is the pictures. I really want the recipe for the Chinese tongue salad.
Hi Nicole, sorry about this! My latest update messed up the post and the recipe disappeared. I just added it back. You should able to see the recipe if scrolling down to the end of the page.
Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the dish!
I’d like to find my mother’s recipe, which was to cook the tongue with pickling spice ( I believe she may have used a box of prepared spice mixture.)
I need other like AMERICAN RECIPES for Tongue not only Chinese Do you have any? If so
please post or send to my email address, I finally found Tongue at Wal Mart in Coos Bay Oregon. YEA
If you know how to make fried rolled tacos beef tongue is amazing to use instead of a roast I put my tongue in a slow cooker cook over night or like at least 12 hrs on low I like to add my tongue just a bit frozen not all the way that way I don’t have to add so much water and then I ad as much onions and garlic to your tastes and I always add some chipotle peppers just for some flavor let it slow cook after it’s done take off the rough skin and I shredded it and I do like to put a bit of olive oil just a drop in a hot iron skillet drop meat in to just give it a bit of crunch and heat some corn tortillas to where they are flexible put a lil meat in them roll them tight tight and deep fry yummy
We got some thinly sliced beef tongue at the Asian market and tried the quick searing method but it was quite tough. Does it need to be boiled first?
Hi Betz, yes the beef tongs need to be boiled first. I used the whole beef tong, boiled the whole first, slice, and then sear.
I grew up eatin tonge and cook it only when my boys are away – they get grossed out 🙂 – Thanks for the great idea’s. I can’t believe how good the searing makes it!! Amazing! I too can eat it right out of the pot 🙂 I’m lucky enough to how found a butcher who still sells for cheap!
Hi Patricia, the searing makes a huge difference isn’t it? I was so happy when I discovered the method from a local taco place. I hope your boys could enjoy this cut a bit more now. And so lucky you could find cheaper cuts!
Hope you have a great day 🙂
I bought 2 buffalo tongues today, one for myself one for daughter. I am cooking mine now according to your recipe but doing on the stove top for 2-3 hours. How will I know when it’s done? I’ll post again and let you know how the buffalo tongue turned out. Thanks for your recipe & clear instructions.
Hi Trudy, when the tongue is done, it should be very tender and you can slice it easily. I hope the dish turned out well and let me know what do you think! Have a great week ahead 🙂
Hi Maggie, so I slow boiled the tongue on the stove for about 2.5hrs and refrigerated it for a few hours. When I pulled it out to slice it up, it was really quite hard. Did it need more boil time? So disappointed. Thx!
Hi Jim, did you try to slice a piece off the tongue right after you’ve done cooking? I usually do so just to make sure it turns very tender. And yes, the tongue will tough up if you chill them. You should reheat them before serving so they will become tender. My favorite method is to slice them up and sear them in a fry pan. So you can get the soft texture and crispy surface.
My mother pressure cooked tongue and put it through a grinder, then made a version of beef salad sandwiches with mayonnaise, sweet pickles, etc. People would beg for her recipe and she would not give it out. I still love it today. I plan on cooking mine with my new Instant Pot.
Fantastic dish! We’re lucky to have gotten connected with an all-pasture-fed red angus farm here in Quebec. Tongue and the cheeks are some of the cheaper cuts, and so delish! (We do the cheeks in pieces in the slow cooker – makes a wonderful gravy and the meat is so tender.) Served your crispy tongue slices and sauce over greens that included dandelion greens from our yard (picked before the flowers). Thank you!
Interesting cooking idea, simply love it!
Thank you !
Just got a beautiful tongue in the Dutch oven as per your recipe… I sourced it from a farm just up the road from where I live. Been wanting to try this forever and I have finally found the courage! Going the taco direction and will be serving with homemade corn tortillas and a fresh batch of salsa Verde 😋 super excited about this!
In Brazil we eat beef tongue and no qualms about it. I love it! I never learned how to make it, because we had cooks. I did learn here in the US–in a crock pot. My husband is the official “peeler,” because I can’t stand looking at the thing, yuk! I tried to make it the way I remember in Brazil: tomatoes, onions and peas. Delicious. I tried Tacos de Lengua and loved them. I hope you don’t take offense, but it is queso casero; Spanish uses gender and queso is masculine. By the way, love your website.
I always order tongue tacos when trying out New Mexican restaurants and have been disappointed more often than not. I recently had three steers butchered and no one wanted the tongue so I kept them fo myself. After being reluctant to try sor six months or so I finally decided I’ve give this recipe a try. Oh my, I’m so glad I did! I fried some with eggs for breakfast and it’s at least as good as any bacon I’ve eaten and also broiled some for soft tacos two nights in a row and my son and I were in heaven! Enough left for one more breakfast if my son doesn’t find it first! I can’t wait till the next batch of steers goes to market! I hope none of my customers read this!
Hi Maggie, the beef tongue I bought has already been sliced with its skin removed. I checked that it hasn’t been precooked. Do you reckon I should still braise it (but for shorter time) before searing it?
I think you can follow the recipe as it is. The tongue will get very tender at the end of the braising but I don’t think it will fall apart because of the removed skin. As for the cooking time, it also depends on the size etc. You can use a knife to check its texture to make sure it turned soft enough before searing.
Thanks for the tips Maggie. At the 40 min mark a fork could pierce most of the pieces through. I forgot about them and left them in the pot for close to two hours and they didn’t fall apart thankfully. Seared them after, it was mouthwatering delicious!
So happy it turned out well! I’m craving for some beef tongue tacos now 🙂
The tongue is hands down my favourite part of the cow. After boiling it and peeling it, I usually sautée it with onions and fresh tomatoes or just eat it straight, in slices. I’m loooking of new ways of preparing it , so I’ll totally try this Chinese inspired recipe! 🙂