Beef Tongue Time, Shhhhhh, Cat Got Your Tongue from Mugaritz, A Natural Science of Cooking

Not sure if beef tongue classifies as a summer dish, this recipe adapted* from Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking (May 2012; $49.95, Phaidon Press) by Andoni Luis Aduriz will surely get your guests attention.

Shhhhhh…Cat Got Your Tongue

This recipe requires advanced techniques, accurate measurements using the metric system, specialist equipment and professional experience to achieve good results.

Serves 4


The Caramelized Onion
500 g spring onion (scallions)
50 ml extra-virgin olive oil

The Tongue
1 x 800-g beef tongue

The Garlic
1 garlic bulb
20 ml extra-virgin olive oil

The Concentrated Jus
25 g carrot
50 g onion
1.5 litres water
500 g ox tail

The Flowers
16 bear’s garlic (Allium ursinum) flowers
The Presentation
20 ml extra-virgin olive oil



The Caramelized Onion
Peel the onions and slice them into fine julienne. Pour the oil into a pot. Add the onion and sweat over medium heat until it caramelizes and acquires a texture similar to translucent strands or filaments. Put the preparation in a colander to drain off the excess oil. Place the strands in a tightly covered container and refrigerate until required.

The Tongue
Put the tongue in a large pot with plenty of salted water, cover and leave to cook over a medium heat, bubbling gently for 6 hours. Remove the pot from the heat but leave the tongue in the cooking water until it cools down. Drain the tongue and peel the membrane covering it.
Use tweezers to break up the meat to obtain strings of tongue. Place these strings in a covered container and refrigerate.

The Garlic
Preheat the oven to 180°c (350°F). Wrap the garlic bulb in aluminium foil to keep in the moisture while cooking and to protect the cloves from direct heat. Put the wrapper garlic in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven and carefully separate the cloves. Peel the cloves carefully and refrigerate them covered with a little virgin olive oil.

The Concentrated Jus
Wash the vegetables in a solution of vegetable disinfectant, rinse them, then chop them and add them to the water in a saucepan. Add the tail and simmer for 6 hours. At the end of this time, sieve (strain) the resulting jellied stock and reduce it gently in a pot on a flat top griddle or a gentle, uniform source of heat until you obtain a flavoursome, gelatinous jus with a firm texture. Salt to taste, cover and refrigerate.

The Flowers
Collect the flowers and place them between damp paper towels in the refrigerator until ready for use.

Presentation & Finishing
Gradually toast the tongue strings with the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan or skillet and place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. The texture will be similar to bristles, being almost crystalline and crisp. Warm the garlic, tongue and onion. Put the 3 ingredients in a salamander grill (broiler) or similar source of heat. With fine tweezers, mix the tongue strings with the onion strands to form a voluminous skein. Place a clove of garlic in the centre of a flat plate and cover with the tongue and onion skein. Pour a few drops of the concentrated jus over the tongue skein. Finally, rest the bear’s garlic flowers among the fibres of the dish.

(* Recipe adapted* from Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking (May 2012; $49.95, Phaidon Press) by Andoni Luis Aduriz, reproduced with permission of publisher)

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