Saturday, 27 April 2013

Lamb tongue

The selection in the shops and at markets in Helsinki is so different compared to Spain, and as a result of that lately I haven't been getting giddy with octopus, mussels and other staples of my Spanish cooking. Instead I have been broadening my culinary horizons to and making gastronomical excursions to the wonderful and not at all awful world of offal.

I know I have eaten tongue before and I remember liking it. I had, however, never actually prepared it myself. But Saturday just isn't Saturday without a trip to the markets. And the trip to the markets isn't anything without going just a little bit giddy. So, a little while back I returned home armed with, among other things, lamb tongue.

Having stared at it, somewhat startled, it was time to get down to business. That kind of cuts are cheap so should be braved more often, especially since the right method of cooking actually produces delightfully delectable delicacies that just melt in your mouth. But there is a certain threshold to get over first. Tongue for instance really looks  like what you'd expect: something out of someone's mouth.

But have no fear and get cracking, dear! The end result is so dreamy tender. The instructions I got at the market were: water, lemon, whole allspice peppercorns, bayleaf and 3-4 hour cooking time. This makes either generous starter for 3 or, if you add more salad leaves, a light lunch for 3.  The memories of Pure Bistro were still vivid in my mind. The ket to the fabulousness of those dishes was the outstanding balance of contrasting flavours and textures, so I paid special attention to that. Piquant capers, peppery rucola, slightly start sweetness of cranberry jelly, richness of the potatos, tender tongue and crisp crunch of the fried onion rings.


3 lamb tongues
1 l water
10 allspice peppercorns
2 bayleaves
1/2 lemon
2,5 tbsp salt
(I also added 1 star anise but that is optional as its liquoriciness is not for everyone)

Add spices into the water and bring to boil. Add rinsed tongues and boil in simmering water for a couple of hours until the tongues are done. This you can tell by testing with a skewer:  they should feel soft. Lift the tongues out with slotted spoon and peel while still warm - that way you can just pull the skin off. Strain the cooking liquid and let the tongue cool in the reserved liquid. I kept mine in it for 4 hours but you could leave them in overnight too. Slice the tongues when cooled and serve cold. Today they were served with warm potato salad.
Crisp onion rings

1 largeish onion
2 dl buttermilk or Turkish yoghurt that you've diluted into a runnier consistency with a splash of water
salt, pepper
3 dl flour

Cut the onion into 1/2 cm (or as thin as you can go) rings. Remove the translucent membrane inside the rings as it tends to stick out and burn. Season the buttermilk/ yoghurt and add the onion rings. Let them soak and marinate for half an hour. Then shake off the excess buttermilk and drench in flour until thoroughly coated. Shake off the excess flour and fry in hot oil until golden brown and crunchy. If you want them extra crunchy, you could repeat the process and after the first flour coating dunk them back into the buttermilk and then again into the flour. Apparently corn meal gives extra crunch and a lovely colour. Drain on kitchen towel and serve.

Potato salad

3 medium size oblong potatos
15 capers
salt, pepper

Cut the potatos to 1/2 cm slices. Boil until done and steam until dry. Toss in a little bit of oil seasoned with salt and pepper. Place on top of a pile of rucola - the warmth from the potatos softens the flavour and texture of the leaves too. Then add the onion rings, sliced tongue and capers. A classic combination with tongue would be mayonnaise jazzed with horseradish but since I'm so in love with that cranberry mayo I've been serving with both reindeer and lamb sausage, I made some to go with this one too. And slam dunk - it works.

Cranberry mayonnaise

1 dl good mayonnaise
little less than 1 tbsp good cranberry jelly

Mix thoroughly and serve.

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