Food You Should Be Eating: Beef Tendon
Beef tendon is awesome. What is it? Tendons are what connects muscle to bone. As connective tissue, it is normally very tough and fibrous. When you cook it for a long time at a relatively low temperature, though, it becomes soft and rich and gelatinous - and has been called the new pork belly. It has a mouth-feel that is similar to many fats without the greasiness, but beef tendon is over 99% fat free. I love the stuff. To me, it is reminiscent of beef fat (which I also love, but should eat less of). Angela, who doesn't like beef fat, really likes it, too - largely because it isn't greasy. I've liked tendon for years, but until recently I've only eaten it in pho. Recently, we had an awesome dish of tendon and brisket in brown gravy at a Chinese place (Lai Lai Wok, for locals). Last week, I went to one of my favorite Chinese restaurants with my father. I saw a cold, spicy/tangy beef tendon appetizer on their menu, but my father was being a wimp, and we didn't order it. So, how do you prepare it? I wasn't sure, so I asked the guy at our local pho place. He said he stews it for about seven hours. OK. Easy enough - especially with a slow cooker. A bit of web-searching showed that you should put it in boiling water first for a bit to clean off any blood (or whatever) that might be clinging to it. Makes sense. I wandered over to Am-Ko, one of my local Asian groceries, where I found beef tendon in the freezer section for $2.99 a pound. Not bad. Yes. It is just as easy as putting this stuff into the slow cooker. It turns out amazingly well. On a whim the next day, I took some of the leftovers and chopped it up with some lean ground meat to turn into a burger. What did I get? A burger that was very low in fat, but didn't taste like it was. Pretty cool. I didn't think of it at the time, but I wonder how the liquid that you cook beef tendon in compare to beef stock. I'd think it would be fairly similar, insofar as you are essentially dissolving connective tissues. I think there are probably a ton of uses for tendon that I haven't even begun to consider. If you have some ideas, I'd love to hear them.