The Nasty Bits: “Tongues and Tails”

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Yes, I am old enough to remember Sophie B Hawkins. When she debuted the album that gave her a name, her lyrics were some of the most creative of the 90s.

Anyhow, the weekend saw me venture forth into the mega-mart for the first time in 2 weeks. Suffice it to say that my better half did the grocery shopping while I was less than healthy. Thanks sweetie :)

Looking for some stew beef, I wandered the long meat counter somewhat intently. Low and behold, I find several shrink wrapped beef tongues.

A friend of mine who recently returned from vacationing in Ecuador mentioned that he had had the opportunity to try a local dish featuring tongue. His harrowing tale (pun intended) reminded me of a dish from my childhood that was served at dinner time.

You see, back in the 80s, beef tongue used to be an undervalued piece of meat, so it was sold cheaply. These days, beef tongue can be had for an extravagant $12.51/kg. Nevertheless, given the rarity of seeing packaged tongue at the SuperStore, I decided to purchase one and try my hand at braising tongue with five spice.

This is the result:











  1. One Beef Tongue (trust me, at the mega mart, the usually only come in one size)
  2. 2 tbsp five spice powder (this can be appropriated at any Asian food store)
  3. 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  4. 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  5. 1 cup beef broth

Alternatively, you can actually make five spice powder by following the instructions at about.com


  1. Clean the beef tongue with some water and towel dry. Set aside. While I vaguely remember my father scraping the skin off a beef tongue with a knife, I do not recommend trying this. I found an easier way to remove the thick skin.
  2. Take a nice heavy bottomed sauce pan with a lid, and place onto a small burner
  3. Heat the vegetable oil on medium until it shimmers.
  4. Add the five spice powder to the heated oil, keeping the heat at medium. It will hiss.
  5. Cook the five spice powder until it darkens somewhat and you smell the wonderfully fragrant scent of the component spices
  6. Add the tongue and beef broth.
  7. Continue heating on medium until the liquid boils.
  8. Once the liquid boils, lower the heat to low, and cover the pot. We are now braising.
  9. Braise the tongue for an hour.
  10. Remove the tongue from the pot. Place it onto a cutting board and, using tongs, peel the outer skin from the tongue. Please be careful. The skin should come off in large strips.
  11. Place the now skinned tongue into the pot and continue braising for another 45 minutes.
  12. Remove, cool, slice, and enjoy.

The braising liquid can be discarded.

I served the chilled tongue on rice with other fixings for lunch.

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Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.