Today is Mother’s Day both in the US and Japan. My mother, now in her mid-80s in Tokyo, has always been my inspiration for my cooking and my career. She remains among the most knowledgeable of all of my professional acquaintances in matters of Japanese cuisine and its preparation. In her honor and on the occasion of Mother’s Day, I’d like to publish a delicious recipe – based on my mother’s dish somewhat modified by me – for braised beef tongue. This is a dish with Western origins, of course, but prepared by her in a Japanese way to achieve wonderful flavor, texture and beautiful visual appeal. Unfortunately before taking photo of the final dish, it quickly disappeared into the stomachs of my family, and friends including my visiting son-in-law from London. Gregory was, at first, very skeptical about eating tongue – not his favorite he said – but in the end he consumed it with relish. You will be delighted with this dish, I am sure.
1 beef tongue (I purchased it at Costco)
1 medium quartered onion
1 medium roughly cut carrot cubes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt
12 peeled Cipolino onions
7 ounces collard greens
3 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
1. Clean the beef tongue under cold tap water. Transfer the tong to a large pot and add enough water to cover it. Bring the water to a boil and cook the tongue for 20 minutes. Remove the tongue from the water and cool it under cold tap water so that it is easy to handle. With a sharp knife peel the skin.
2. Heat an oven to 350 °F. In a pot in which the tongue comfortably first add water brought to a simmer. Add the tongue (tongue should be barely covered with water), carrot, onion wedges, bay leaf and salt, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. In a saucepan of cold water add the Cipolino onions and bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the onions for 8 minutes. Drain the onions. Cut the collard greens crosswise into julienne strips. In a pot of salt added hot water add the collard greens and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the collard greens.
3. Remove the pot from the oven. In a skillet melt the butter and add the flour and cook, over medium-low heat, until lightly brown. Scoop and add one ladle of the cooking liquid from the pot to the skillet. Continue add additional ladles until the flour mixture is loose and runny. Add the loosened flour sauce to the pot along with the tomato paste, honey, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. Cook the tongue for an additional 30 minutes to one hour over stove top. Remove the tongue from the cooking liquid and keep it on a platter. Fish out the onion wedges and carrots with a slotted spoon and puree in a food processor. Transfer the pureed vegetables back to the sauce and cook for 5 minutes or so, if it is necessary to reduce the sauce. Cut the cooled beef tongue into 2-inch thick slices. Add the sliced beef tongue, Cipolino onions and collard greens to the sauce and cook for 10 minutes. Divide and serve the beef tongue, Cipolino onions and Collard greens on four to five dinner platters.