Though my grandparents on my maternal side have both passed away, I think of them often. Most days, life goes on as it always does, but every now and then, something triggers a memory and I miss my grandparents tremendously.
Cooking with my little one reminds me of my childhood and spending lots of time in my grandparents’ kitchen. I was always curious about our family’s traditional Filipino recipes. One that my daughter is a big fan of is my grandfather’s Lengua Estofada.
For those who don’t know what lengua is, it’s tongue. In this case, beef tongue.
I know, I know. Lengua Estofada may not be everyone’s cup of tea because it’s not a cut of meat that many people may consider eating. Believe me, the thought of it used to turn me off as a kid. Lengua Estofada, tripe and balut were the only Filipino food I didn’t eat as a kid.
The thought of eating tongue never really sat well with me, but my granfather’s Lengua Estofada was so good, that no one would even know it was tongue. The way my grandfather made his Lengua made it a favourite dish among my mom and her siblings. The meat was always so tender and the sauce had layers of flavour.
For some reason, it happens to be one of my seven-year old daughter’s favourite dishes.
How did this happen? Well, Little One has been introduced to a variety of international cuisine in our travels and eating food from different cultures has been something that has been a part of her life ever since she started eating solid food!
Little One asked for Lengua Estofada, so I decided to make it for her. I don’t make this dish often and I don’t have my grandfather’s recipe. This is what I recall, and am uncertain if he had other ingredients in his dish.
- 2 lbs. beef tongue
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 medium-sized potatoes
- Cooking oil
- 3 tsp. garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ½ cup olives, pitted
- 1 can tomato paste
- 4 cups water
- To "clean" tongue:
- white vinegar
- First, to prep tongue for cooking, clean it by mixing salt and white vinegar together. Rub mixture on meat and then rinse it off with water.
- Place tongue in a large pot and cover with water. Cover pot and let boil for 30 minutes.
- Remove all of the white layer from tongue.
- Heat oil and brown the meat. Transfer to a large Dutch Oven (or pressure cooker). Let cool so that you can slice the meat.
- To the Dutch oven with the sliced meat, add onion, garlic, peppercorn, salt, tomato paste, bay leaves , brown sugar, oyster sauce and water. Let cook on medium high heat for about 60 minutes.
- Peel potatoes and cut into slices. Cut slices in half and fry in oil until golden brown. Add the fried potatoes and olives to the dish and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
- Remove bay leaves before serving. To serve, ladle Lengua Estofada over a bed of hot rice.
We were trying to explain to Little One that Canada is made up of people of diverse cultural backgrounds and each culture has food that is traditional. Some may be “different” from what one is accustomed to. We try to encourage her to be open to new things and not use the words, “icky”, “gross”, or “weird” if something is “different”. To be honest, we’ve been pretty lucky with her. She loves trying new foods. When we travel abroad, she’s even more adventurous than I am when it comes to trying international fare.
What’s the most “adventurous” food you’ve ever tried?