I was bending and contorting every which way taking photos of these lengua tacos when G crept behind me and commented wistfully, “Boy! Those look good, wish they were beef.” Ha? Say what? Ox tongue=beef, right? But of course, I understood what he meant. For him, beef=recognizable parts of the cow. Poor guy. He just can’t wrap his head around this Asian woman’s ability to consume and enjoy an animal from nose to tail.
I bought a reasonably-sized ox tongue from a Mexican market a few days ago and spent a good few hours today simmering it on the stove with aromatics. Half of it I prepared as lengua in mushroom sauce and the remaining half I planned to turn into tacos. G was pretty stoked when I mentioned we were having tacos for lunch but when he saw the gargantuan cooked tongue on the kitchen counter and realized what was going into the anticipated tacos, he miserably dug into a cup-a-noodle instead.
Who can blame him? I have been eating tongue for years and have developed a special affinity for it but even I can’t look at that picture above and go, hmmmm, tongue. The looks of this offal is enough to make the sturdiest of stomachs turn but if you dare step outside of your culinary boundaries and get pass the fact that yes, it IS tongue, you will be rewarded with meat that’s far more tender and succulent than any other part or cut of beef. Trust me, you’ve never really had tacos until you’ve had tacos de lengua.
- 3 pounds beef tongue
- kosher salt
- 1 small onion , peeled and quartered
- 1 head garlic , peeled and crushed
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large onion , peeled and diced
- 1 bunch cilantro , stemmed and chopped
- corn tortillas
- salsa roja or salsa verde
- limes , cut into wedges
Scrub surface of tongue with coarse salt. Rinse and repeat for a few times. Rinse well. In a deep pot over medium heat, combine beef tongue and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, skimming scum that may float on top. Drain tongue and rinse well. Discard liquid and wash pot.
Return tongue to pot and add enough water to cover. Add onions, garlic, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Skim scum that my float on top. Lower heat, cover and simmer for about 4 to 5 hours or until meat is fork-tender. Add more water as needed during cooking to completely cover tongue. Drain from liquid and discard liquid and aromatics. Allow tongue to cool to touch. Peel the skin and dice meat.
In a skillet over medium heat, arrange tortillas in a single layer and warm, turning once or twice, until soft and pliable.
To assemble tacos, spoon about 2 tablespoons of tongue on tortillas. Top with onions, cilantro and salsa. Serve with limes.