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Nose to Tail in Practice


liuzhou
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nt.thumb.jpg.ee070f845fb1aeaa73ed2e5878f5259f.jpg

 

Nose-to-tail.

 

We’ve all heard the term but few of us have lived it. I haven’t.

 

Many of us don’t want to live it. We perhaps don’t want to be reminded that the food on our plates was once part of something else; something living. Sometimes it’s the visuals that put us off; sometimes smells; textures. But more often than not it is something less tangible. Perhaps even something irrational. The fear of the unknown; the unfamiliar.

 

Some of us may want to live it, but unless we are doing our own butchering, some parts are simply not easily available. Our sanitised supermarkets tend to the safe and when there is low demand, even independent butchers are unwilling to carry many items. Many of us wish to avoid waste; some of us are on tighter budgets than we would wish and often the overlooked parts are the cheapest – until some celebrity chef starts extolling their delights and the prices rocket.

 

Even those of us who do want it, may still have limits; lines they won’t cross.

 

The first time I visited a market in China I couldn’t work out what I was seeing. There was a long trestle table on which was a pig. A dead pig. But it wasn’t whole. It was a jigsaw puzzle of pig in all its parts. Parts, I couldn’t recognise; parts I wasn’t even sure necessarily belonged to the pig. And there was no way, I could have fitted many of those parts back into even close to the correct places.

 

Yet, for millennia, people have been eating nose-to-tail, not out of fashion or choice, but out of simple necessity; as survival. And people have learned not only to eat almost everything but even how to make some of those less-well known parts into gourmet dishes. I love to watch people in my supermarkets in China eagerly fighting over the bits that in western supermarkets don’t even make it to the sales counters.

 

Families raised one pig per year (many still do) and that pig is slaughtered to see them through the winter. Meat is dried, frozen, salted, pickled, cured. The blood is collected and utilised. Intestines are cleaned for stuffing as sausages. Stocks are made. Jellies. Many more.

 

I will concentrate mostly on pig products for the simple reason that that is the non-poultry animal most used in nose-to-tail eating world-wide and certainly the one I see most. But I will mention others. It will mostly be domesticated animals, but some common game. I’ll leave the bush meat and roadkill to others. Strictly nothing endangered.

 

A warning: There will be images of parts, some raw, some cooked. Maybe both. The squeamish may wish to pass, but I do think it’s important to know what you are or are not eating. There will be a lot of what many of you euphemistically call ‘organ’ meat, a misnomer if there was ever one. Muscles are organs, too. I’ll be using the term ‘offal’, derived as it is from ‘off fall’, denoting the bits that are so often allowed to fall off the prep table when preparing meat for sale. But I’ll also be including some less usual parts not normally described as offal. Some internal; some external. We’ll see.

 

Should you have any relevant recipes or tips, please pitch in; I know some members are more used to butchering, for example, than I’ll ever be. And there are regional uses in nose-to-tail, too, many of which I’m not aware of.

 

Given the title of the topic, I think it’s only sensible to start at the beginning and sniff around the animal till we get to the tail end. That said, I make no pretence to be laying out parts in any correct order; instead availability may influence what comes next at any point. After all, the people who depend on nose-to-tail eating don’t eat the animal in any set order.

 

1349613451_curedpignose.thumb.jpg.28ea0a64b2e8ac8d8650e55604fe5d1d.jpg

Cured Pig Snout

 

So to the snout. An incredibly powerful organ. Said to be up to 2,000 times more sensitive than our pathetic proboscises, technically, the snout includes both the nose and mouth of the animal, but in common language often refers just to the nose which the animals use both to dig and to scent their intended meals, often both at the same time. Hence their legendary employment as truffle hunters, a fading practice – dogs are easier to control. And are less likely to swallow those prized tubers.

 

Most of the snout is the pre-nasal bone which can weigh over a pound and is tipped by the well-known round shape of the nostril area itself. This is composed of cartilage, which requires cooking down to make the nose crunchy but edible.

 

Pig’s noses, in Chinese 猪鼻子 (zhū bí zi), are eaten across Asia and I’m told are popular in the southern states of the USA among other places. The Caribbean countries eat noses and they are a fried street-food speciality in Dominica.

 

Pig’s noses need cleaning and any hairs removed by shaving or singeing them, then they still take quite a bit of cooking. They are often boiled / braised (here in soy sauce) for at least an hour to reduce their gelatinous quality to something manageable. That said, there are pockets of delicious meat hidden inside and the skin fries to crispy perfection. They may then be sliced thinly and fried. Alternatively, they can be roasted or baked by brushing with oil and cooking at 180℃ / 350℉ until they puff up.

 

Noses are most often eaten as a snack food rather than as part of a main dish. In fact, here, they are often sold vacuum packed in convenience stores as ready-to-eat bites.

 

snouts.thumb.jpg.41b6209f6f6bd7bd6958c890b5b9419e.jpg

Pig Snout Advertising

 

1819853068_snoutsnack.thumb.jpg.6392ad0d2254c79d8658a8ba5271fa8b.jpg

Convenience Store Braised Pig's Snout

 

Below is a side portion of the area between the nose and mouth. It has been spiced and braised in soy sauce. In the second image, the fatty, gelatinous nature of the piggy part is clear.

 

snout.thumb.jpg.b592d91a7e931d607f5b4326d8774b1c.jpg

It is gelatinous and very porky in flavour -almost like a heavily smoked bacon, although it is unsmoked. I like them.

 

snout2.thumb.jpg.8918ae8b9d46c7318345206944f24af7.jpg

 

An exception to the snacking habit, however, is 辣炒猪鼻子 (là chǎo zhū bí zi), spicy stir-fried pig nose, a Sichuan dish using the typical flavours of that province including chilli, Sichuan peppercorn and 豆瓣酱(dòu bàn jiàng) broad bean paste. A typical recipe is here.

 

Pig snout jelly can be prepared, moulded and eaten with crackers.

 

Serious Eats suggests boiling the snout with the equivalent weight of beans, split peas or lentils for a simple soup, then deep frying the skin as a garnish.

 

Well prepared, they are satisfyingly chewy with a good, slightly fatty, porky, bacony flavour.

 

1223690951_pigbike.thumb.jpg.f3abe913ce9f4fb05e253f744acffded.jpg

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Posted (edited)

Not far from the snout lie my favourite porcine treats.

 

2006435482_pigsear.thumb.jpg.9d62ffdca8ca34ecc18a6f25262def50.jpg

 

I remember well, the first time I ate my favourites, not knowing what they were. It was at an early lunch on a cold March 8th, 1996 in western Hunan. I was in a restaurant with a bunch of people I’d never met before, in a place I’d never been before and on the table in front of me were a couple of appetisers I’d never seen before, including a plate of what looked like cast-off bacon rinds covered in a chilli sauce. My new-found companions were digging in, so I joined them.

 

58598018_Hunanpigsears2.jpg.fbfbf8093b3727cdd921b053a8f2f49c.jpg

Hunanese Pig's Ear Strips with Chillies

 

I wasn’t so wrong taste-wise on the bacon rind comparison, but the textures were different. Like snout (which I hadn’t then had), but more so, these seemed to be a mix of the gelatinous and cartilage. Biting into them, I first got a slightly resistant gelatinousness followed by the crisp texture of cartilage in the centre. All accompanied by that delicious pork flavour. The next twenty I sampled  were the same!

 

Since then, when I head back to Hunan, I seek them out, but I’ve also eaten them elsewhere in China, including here at home, both as snacks and as part of full dishes at formal banquets. And they are sold both raw and cooked (usually braised in soy sauce) in most of the local supermarkets. I buy my raw supplies in the wet market.

 

1916592342_Hunanpigsears.thumb.jpg.5efea720df8805fbe0fcc4df92e491df.jpg

Pig Ear

 

I am talking, of course, about 猪耳朵 (zhū ěr duo), sometimes shortened to 猪耳 (zhū ěr) – pig’s ears. Unlike the pig’s nose, their ears aren’t their most efficient organ, but they make up for it in flavour! Like the snout, they need cleaning, depilating and similar slow cooking.

 

924754391_soybraisedpigsears.thumb.jpg.27a7703baa51d9a5092258a22970c602.jpg

Soy Braised Pig's Ears

 

In reference to that crunch I mentioned, a sort of nickname for the dish is 层层脆 (céng céng cuì) which literally means ‘layer upon layer of crisp’.

 

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) defines the phrase ‘to make a pig’s ear of something’ as ‘to botch it’, then goes on to ‘make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ as ‘to attempt to make something good from what is by nature bad or inferior in quality’. Dr Brewer should be ashamed of himself. I’d much rather have a pig’s ear than a silk purse! I’d look a right idiot pulling out my silk purse to pay for my round of drinks down at the Olde Deaf Pig on a Friday night!

 

Of course, it’s not only in China that the hog’s auditory organs are considered a delicacy. They are eaten across Asia. I’ve enjoyed them in Vietnam as well as in pig’s ear salad in Thailand. I’ve eaten them in tapas bars in Spain. I’ve had them as beer food in Russia and in the Baltic countries.

 

And, I’m told that, once again, they are eaten in the ’soul food’ culture of the southern US. All very sensible, although I’m distressed to learn that in North Carolina they adulterate good offal, sometimes including ears, by mixing it with c⊘rnmeal in something called ‘livermush’. I’ll have the liver, thanks; keep the mush!

 

Anyway, if you haven’t already, and you get the chance, lend an ear to some ear; you may just be surprised.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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12 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Given the title of the topic, I think it’s only sensible to start at the beginning and sniff around the animal till we get to the tail end.

Where oh where is the groan button..

(Really love the whole topic though, and the way you are presenting it)

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Be nice.

(If you don't know the difference then you need to do some research)

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

Not far from the snout lie my favourite porcine treats.

 

2006435482_pigsear.thumb.jpg.9d62ffdca8ca34ecc18a6f25262def50.jpg

 

I remember well, the first time I ate my favourites, not knowing what they were. It was at an early lunch on a cold March 8th, 1996 in western Hunan. I was in a restaurant with a bunch of people I’d never met before, in a place I’d never been before and on the table in front of me were a couple of appetisers I’d never seen before, including a plate of what looked like cast-off bacon rinds covered in a chilli sauce. My new-found companions were digging in, so I joined them.

 

58598018_Hunanpigsears2.jpg.fbfbf8093b3727cdd921b053a8f2f49c.jpg

Hunanese Pig's Ear Strips with Chillies

 

I wasn’t so wrong taste-wise on the bacon rind comparison, but the textures were different. Like snout (which I hadn’t then had), but more so, these seemed to be a mix of the gelatinous and cartilage. Biting into them, I first got a slightly resistant gelatinousness followed by the crisp texture of cartilage in the centre. All accompanied by that delicious pork flavour. The next twenty I sampled  were the same!

 

Since then, when I head back to Hunan, I seek them out, but I’ve also eaten them elsewhere in China, including here at home, both as snacks and as part of full dishes at formal banquets. And they are sold both raw and cooked (usually braised in soy sauce) in most of the local supermarkets. I buy my raw ears in the wet market.

 

1916592342_Hunanpigsears.thumb.jpg.5efea720df8805fbe0fcc4df92e491df.jpg

Pig Ear

 

I am talking, of course, about 猪耳朵 (zhū ěr duo), sometimes shortened to 猪耳 (zhū ěr) – pig’s ears. Unlike the pig’s nose, their ears aren’t their most efficient organ, but they make up for it in flavour! Like the snout, they need cleaning, depilating and similar slow cooking.

 

924754391_soybraisedpigsears.thumb.jpg.27a7703baa51d9a5092258a22970c602.jpg

Soy Braised Pig's Ears

 

In reference to that crunch I mentioned, a sort of nickname for the dish is 层层脆 (céng céng cuì) which literally means ‘layer upon layer of crisp’.

 

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) defines the phrase ‘to make a pig’s ear of something’ as ‘to botch it’, then goes on to ‘make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ as ‘to attempt to make something good from what is by nature bad or inferior in quality’. Dr Brewer should be ashamed of himself. I’d much rather have a pig’s ear than a silk purse! I’d look a right idiot pulling out my silk purse to pay for my round of drinks down at the Olde Deaf Pig on a Friday night!

 

Of course, it’s not only in China that the hog’s auditory organs are considered a delicacy. They are eaten across Asia. I’ve enjoyed them in Vietnam as well as in pig’s ear salad in Thailand. I’ve eaten them in tapas bars in Spain. I’ve had them as beer food in Russia and in the Baltic countries.

 

And, I’m told that, once again, they are eaten in the ’soul food’ culture of the southern US. All very sensible, although I’m distressed to learn that in North Carolina they adulterate good offal, sometimes including ears, by mixing it with c⊘rnmeal in something called ‘livermush’. I’ll have the liver, thanks; keep the mush!

 

Anyway, if you haven’t already, and you get the chance, lend an ear to some ear; you may just be surprised.

 

One of our favorite hosts in the Yonne dept of France used to serve delicious pigs ear canapes.    Braised with aromatics and wine, succulent and porky.    Excellent.    And similarly, he transformed andouillettes into small morsels of goodness that were a perfect foil to a glass of wine.    He served us many outstanding plates, many with benefit of scant description for some of his guests.

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Posted (edited)

Use your loaf!

 

I mentioned elsewhere the Chinese phrase 吃什么补什么 (chī shén me bǔ shén me) or ‘eat it to repair it’, a belief derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and applied to Chinese nutrition theory. This basically suggests that should some part of your body not be performing up to par, then eating the same part from a healthy animal will help. Utter nonsense, of course, yet many believe it.

 

Which brings me to my late wife’s favourite porcine part. She was a smart cookie, as they say, yet half-subscribed to the theory, while her innate logic fought it off. Years of conditioning and propaganda to be fought off.

 

Her favourite part is to be found between the ears just mentioned in my last post. Yes, she was very partial to a breakfast of 猪脑 (zhū nǎo) - brains. Pig brains to be precise.

 

This I find to be a divisive part of the animal. Some may be reminded that the pig is an intelligent sentient animal; many more are just put off by the sight of the raw brains, so similar to our own. Yet, not so much the Chinese. Brains are routinely displayed in vacuum packed trays on the supermarket butchery counters.

 

Brains are also popular in France and in parts of the USA. Available canned, I believe. Here we only get them when they have just stopped thinking.

 

1460220701_Pigbrains.thumb.jpg.eb37dd2e4cf6295d5dd787e70e044bd5.jpg

Pig Brains

 

This low, but complete, protein food comes with a host of nutrients, especially the ‘good’ fats and contains negligible amounts of carbohydrates. They are rich in vitamins (especially the B-group) and essential minerals.

 

Probably the most popular way to serve the brains and my wife’s go-to is to scramble them with eggs for breakfast. They have the texture of a creamy, smooth fish roe (although no fishiness)  or are reminiscent of tofu. They are mild tasting with none of the gaminess associated with some offal.

 

The brain, like your and mine, comes in two lobes. These should be separated and any membranes removed, then the two halves soaked in cold salted water. This helps to remove any lingering blood. The brains are then boiled for ten minutes in fresh water. Then shocked by dropping them into an ice bath.

 

Once cooled, the brains are diced, seasoned and gently fried with some eggs. When the eggs are scrambled the brains are ready.

 

Alternatively, the brains can be simply sliced and shallow fried with onions and served on toast. They can also be coated in panko with capers and anchovies and deep fried. Recipe here.

 

In place of pig brains, lamb and calf brains make good substitutes, but are unavailable here.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Posted (edited)

Here is the fourth instalment and we still haven’t left the head yet. Nor shall we for a few more days yet.

 

First, we will be talking tongues. Tongues used to be more popular than they are now; time for a revival, perhaps. Get them while they’re still a cheap choice.

 

890347012_pigtongue.thumb.jpg.c6f5798c6443310601eecea020ac78d8.jpg

Pig's Tongue

 

Beef tongues (aka ox-tongue or neat’s tongue) were the main choice in most western countries, usually boiled, roasted or pickled, but in recent years consumption has declined. The problem with beef tongue is its sheer size. They are large and they need cooking whole. For this reason, they were more often cooked by butchers shops and sold by the slice as cold cuts. I remember well being sent off to school, happily clutching my lunch bag of tongue and pickle sandwiches. Pre-cooked beef tongue is still sold by one of my local supermarkets here in China.

 

2113961322_beeftongue.thumb.jpg.dd253caec760441761cb4daa58ef9222.jpg

Cooked and Sliced Beef Tongue

 

But, pig’s tongues have long been number one in those countries where pork is the more popular meat of choice, such as in most of Asia. And they are more manageable in terms of size. The flavour is not so pronounced as that of beef tongues, but that can work to the cook’s advantage, allowing for other flavours to be incorporated. They are also less fatty than beef tongues.

 

猪舌 (zhū shé), pig’s tongue is by far the main choice here in China, sold in most supermarkets or in the wet markets by the pork butchers. Weighing up to a kilogram / 2.2 lbs at most, they are more suitable for family cooking, but like most hard-working muscles they require long cooking to reach optimum tenderness. This can take at least a couple of hours of boiling, but the tongues are often pressure cooked, drastically reducing the time to around 30 minutes.

 

As ever, they need cleaning first and any connective materials, excess fat etc removed. However , they are cooked with the skin intact. It is removed afterwards. Well, as much as possible; those skins can be tenacious. Then the tongue is sliced and used in whatever recipe the meat is to be finally employed in. I’ve used it in stir fries, fried rice, curries etc, but a favourite is just to eat it cold with pickles.

 

76362229_pigtongue.thumb.jpg.bdea783bf772858625efd7cbb3915a1e.jpg

Slow Cooked Pork Tongue

 

I’m not going to list all the places where tongue remains easily available. That covers the globe. It seems to be one of the more acceptable offal choices. Beef tongues are sold by some butchers and pig’s tongues are available in those ethnic markets which have no taboos against pork – Latin American, Asian, and East European in particular. Unlike for some other parts, there are several recipes for tongue on the internet – ranging from Mexican tacos with tongue and avocado to creamy Filipino lengua; from langue de porc a la ravigote from France to Polish ozory w galrecie or jellied tongues.

 

And if that lot doesn’t get you talking in tongues, what will?

 

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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9 hours ago, liuzhou said:

This I find to be a divisive part of the animal

Yep. I cannot imagine partaking. This may in part be due to one of my careers. I spent 10 years as a.REEGT (Registered Electroencephalograph Tecnologist). Training involved a little too much close contact with pickled brains. Formaldehyde makes a poor appetite stimulant.

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18 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Yep. I cannot imagine partaking. This may in part be due to one of my careers. I spent 10 years as a.REEGT (Registered Electroencephalograph Tecnologist). Training involved a little too much close contact with pickled brains. Formaldehyde makes a poor appetite stimulant.

 

Twenty years ago, Liuzhou made its own 'Yufeng' beer in a local brewery. It was disgustingly unpalatable but delicately flavoured with formaldehyde. I remember being invited to a government sponsored event showcasing local products. Ever single guest refused to drink the beer until some lackeys were sent to replace it with Liquan beer from nearby Guilin city - major embarrassment.

The brewery closed down two weeks later!

The banquet, I recall, did include pig's ears though, so not all was not lost.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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I think dog owners here may be more familiar with the crispy pig ears as dog treats. Not sold for cheap.

 

I've only cooked beef tongue once - from Julia Child - when I was teaching myself to cook with Master the Art of  French Cooking. That sucker was huge - a lot for 2 people to plow through. Peeling was kinda fun. What I thought were the taste buds skeeved me out a bit. I think there was a mustard sauce involved. Sliced up fpr stir-fry makes sense but I wasn;t cooking like that back thenas I found it a bit one note.

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6 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Here is the fourth instalment and we still haven’t left the head yet. Nor shall we for a few more days yet.

 

First, we will be talking tongues. Tongues used to be more popular than they are now; time for a revival, perhaps. Get them while they’re still a cheap choice.

 

890347012_pigtongue.thumb.jpg.c6f5798c6443310601eecea020ac78d8.jpg

Pig's Tongue

 

Beef tongues (aka ox-tongue or neat’s tongue) were the main choice in most western countries, usually boiled, roasted or pickled, but in recent years consumption has declined. The problem with beef tongue is its sheer size. They are large and they need cooking whole. For this reason, they were more often cooked by butchers shops and sold by the slice as cold cuts. I remember well being sent off to school, happily clutching my lunch bag of tongue and pickle sandwiches. Pre-cooked beef tongue is still sold by one of my local supermarkets here in China.

 

2113961322_beeftongue.thumb.jpg.dd253caec760441761cb4daa58ef9222.jpg

Cooked and Sliced Beef Tongue

 

But, pig’s tongues have long been number one in those countries where pork is the more popular meat of choice, such as in most of Asia. And they are more manageable in terms of size. The flavour is not so pronounced as that of beef tongues, but that can work to the cook’s advantage, allowing for other flavours to be incorporated. They are also less fatty than beef tongues.

 

猪舌 (zhū shé), pig’s tongue is by far the main choice here in China, sold in most supermarkets or in the wet markets by the pork butchers. Weighing up to a kilogram / 2.2 lbs at most, they are more suitable for family cooking, but like most hard-working muscles they require long cooking to reach optimum tenderness. This can take at least a couple of hours of boiling, but the tongues are often pressure cooked, drastically reducing the time to around 30 minutes.

 

As ever, they need cleaning first and any connective materials, excess fat etc removed. However , they are cooked with the skin intact. It is removed afterwards. Well, as much as possible; those skins can be tenacious. Then the tongue is sliced and used in whatever recipe the meat is to be finally employed in. I’ve used it in stir fries, fried rice, curries etc, but a favourite is just to eat it cold with pickles.

 

76362229_pigtongue.thumb.jpg.bdea783bf772858625efd7cbb3915a1e.jpg

Slow Cooked Pork Tongue

 

I’m not going to list all the places where tongue remains easily available. That covers the globe. It seems to be one of the more acceptable offal choices. Beef tongues are sold by some butchers and pig’s tongues are available in those ethnic markets which have no taboos against pork – Latin American, Asian, and East European in particular. Unlike for some other parts, there are several recipes for tongue on the internet – ranging from Mexican tacos with tongue and avocado to creamy Filipino lengua; from langue de porc a la ravigote from France to Polish ozory w galrecie or jellied tongues.

 

And if that lot doesn’t get you talking in tongues, what will?

 

 

 

Thinly sliced pig tongues in vinaigrette = delicious and approachable dish.

 

Tongue tale: a school roommate and I unexpectedly dropped in on my parents around meal time.   On seeing us, my mother exclaimed, "Oh,  no!   We're having tongue!"

My roommate replied, "Super!    I LOVE tongue!"    She immediately had my mother curled around her little finger.

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11 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

Thinly sliced pig tongues in vinaigrette = delicious and approachable dish.

 

Tongue tale: a school roommate and I unexpectedly dropped in on my parents around meal time.   On seeing us, my mother exclaimed, "Oh,  no!   We're having tongue!"

My roommate replied, "Super!    I LOVE tongue!"    She immediately had my mother curled around her little finger.

 

I am half French. My mother was French. Tongue and offal in general was no stranger to me growing up.  One of my earliest memories is of being in my grandmother's kitchen in southern France watching her lift a whole cooked beef tongue from a pan and set it aside to cool, then her slicing it. In my memory, this all took mere seconds, but couldn't possibly have done.

 

It's over 50 years since she left us, but I still never see a bit of tongue without that memory flooding back.

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4 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

I am half French. My mother was French. Tongue and offal in general was no stranger to me growing up.  One of my earliest memories is of being in my grandmother's kitchen in southern France watching her lift a whole cooked beef tongue from a pan and set it aside to cool, then her slicing it. In my memory, this all took mere seconds, but couldn't possibly have done.

 

It's over 50 years since she left us, but I still never see a bit of tongue without that memory flooding back.

In WWII, my mother conserved meat ration tokens by frequently serving odd-bits: tongue, heart, liver, kidney, brains.   As I recall, tongue was the easiest to "sell".

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

Tongue and offal in general was no stranger to me

Me too. But I was not as lucky as you in that I never saw most of it being prepared. It was purchased ready to eat. Kidneys, liver, stomach (tripe) of course but not tongue or brain or heart. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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2 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

I am half French. My mother was French. Tongue and offal in general was no stranger to me growing up.  One of my earliest memories is of being in my grandmother's kitchen in southern France watching her lift a whole cooked beef tongue from a pan and set it aside to cool, then her slicing it. In my memory, this all took mere seconds, but couldn't possibly have done.

 

It's over 50 years since she left us, but I still never see a bit of tongue without that memory flooding back.

If my mother thought anything was French she was in favor of it. She was very fond of tongue. That would be beef.

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2 hours ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

In WWII, my mother conserved meat ration tokens by frequently serving odd-bits: tongue, heart, liver, kidney, brains.   As I recall, tongue was the easiest to "sell".

And in counterpoint the folks severely food deprived during the war often embraced the luxury (talking immigrants to US) - white sugar, white flour, meat - not off-cuts, no remoinders of a bad time.. Probably why I was never introduced as a kid except liver and that unapplealing to me pork jello. 

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2 hours ago, Anna N said:

Me too. ...stomach (tripe)...

Ah, I forgot tripe.    That was in rotation also.   But the pickled or sour kind, and fried.    Today, I love it in tacos, but mama didn't cook it Mexican style.

ETA, my last comment brought to mind that many of my current favorite meats are in fact offal of one kind or another.    Mexican tripas, cabeza, lengua, cesos, or French andouillette, tete de veau, museau, falling in line with my maxim that there are no bad foods, only bad cooks.

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)

eGullet member #80.

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8 hours ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

In WWII, my mother conserved meat ration tokens by frequently serving odd-bits: tongue, heart, liver, kidney, brains.   As I recall, tongue was the easiest to "sell".


Millions did the same and more. Millions still do in parts of the world. And it wasn't / isn't just the odd bits of otherwise famliar animals. People in desperate straits will eat anything.

 

Part of China's nose to tail attitude comes from starvation caused by both natural disasters and Mao-made famines, some in living memory, most recently in the  1950s when it is estimated up to 30 million died. People ate literally anything they could find. Many of my friends remember their childhood as a time of hunger. "Tongue, heart, liver, kidney, brains" would have been luxury.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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9 hours ago, heidih said:

I think dog owners here may be more familiar with the crispy pig ears as dog treats. Not sold for cheap.

 

I've only cooked beef tongue once - from Julia Child - when I was teaching myself to cook with Master the Art of  French Cooking. That sucker was huge - a lot for 2 people to plow through. Peeling was kinda fun. What I thought were the taste buds skeeved me out a bit. I think there was a mustard sauce involved. Sliced up fpr stir-fry makes sense but I wasn;t cooking like that back thenas I found it a bit one note.

I was just going to post TS, and my dogs have the same tastes,they all seem,to love pig ears. Jokes aside, they are expensive, at least here in the states. I was able to take advantage of a 50% off online petsmart deal. Got basicly 24 count bags for less then $10usd a bag. I bought 12 bags. My dogs should be good for at least a year.

Edited by FeChef (log)
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A few years ago when i moved to a new village I was surprised and delighted to see that the local CoOp sold pigs' ears in snack sized packets. I realised before getting to the till that it was in the dog food section.

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This is where I get grumpy.

 

The internet is full of badly written clickbait informing us of the top 10 or 20 or 100 "grossest foods"  in the world. They are nearly all full of innocuous choices and all are stuffed with misinformation. It does NOT take months to make century eggs and they do not stink of ammonia.

 

Of course, the usual cretins line up to record themselves eating these suggestions of what to avoid. Eating something because it is gross is the very antithesis of everything I think food should be about.

 

I recently stumbled across possibly the most illiterate garbage I’ve ever read informing me that a nearby small town is the world centre for just such a food example and that the locals there regularly wolf it down of an evening. I know the town rather well. I have friends who live there. The article was a complete load of nonsense.

 

The 'writer' claimed that pig’s eyes were being barbecuedwith chilli and cumin and sold to passing foreign tourists and he did us all the favour of trying one. The problem with that is that the town in question sees a negligible number of foreign tourists. It does see a lot of 90-year-old ex-revolutionaries and students of communism as the town played a significant part in Mao’s revolution in 1929. They certainly don’t come looking to chow down on porcine peepers.

 

1400863691_PigEyes.thumb.jpg.1363c978fed6a5022585570e4d715ec1.jpg

 

So, the question arises – do the Chinese eat pig’s eyes? Not in my experience or in that of anyone I have spoken to. The claim that these are being grilled over charcoal in the streets is a total fabrication. My friends who have lived there all their lives have never seen any such thing.

 

They have seen eyes on sale in a market, as have I (hence my picture). They were not being sold for human consumption, although no doubt someone tried – probably while filming it for YouTube or reality television. The idiot who ‘wrote’ the article is very light on any detail of what his supposed meal tasted like or what texture it had. I don’t believe he ever ate any such thing.

 

Sheep’s eyes are eaten in some Arabic countries and in Iceland, but are not regular fare.

 

Fish eyes are popular in China.

 

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Posted (edited)

The largest organ we possess is our skin and the same is true for most vertebrates. This is does not go to waste, either. Often known as ’pork rinds’ when used in a culinary manner, the skin is fried or roasted until crisp and sold as a snack food, often with beer. In the USA, this is pork cracklings while in the UK, they are the pork scratchings sold in many pubs. Newfoundland in Canada has its scrunchions, used as a condiment and scattered over some dishes.

 

In South America, Columbia is known for its chicharrones which come in two guises – chicharrón toteado which are made from meatless skin and chicharrón cocho which retains some meat. Mexico, of course, is also famous for chicharrones.

 

In SE Asia, pork rind, known in Vietnamese as tóp mỡ is often added to noodle dishes in Vietnam while in Northern Thailand, แคบหมู (khaep mu) is commonly eaten in Chiang Mai. It is often served with hot chilli sauces and even appears in some salads.

 

Here in China, people often render their own lard from pork fat and skin. The-product is dry fried pork skin and this is eaten as a snack food or cooks’ treat. Unprocessed pork skin is sold in most supermarkets.

 

1174197276_Pigskin.thumb.jpg.bfbeb6c3c222d100b94f949d2049e2e2.jpg

Pig Skin

 

Also found in supermarkets is processed pork rinds, often from the animal’s head skin. This is often flavoured with 5-spice or other seasonings, again intended as a snack.

 

959032406_FiveSpicePigSkin3.thumb.jpg.cf0c0dee06a42889ad8de852f3d5a601.jpg

 

Five Spice Pig Skin

 

However, pig skin is also served as a main dish along with its fat and, often chillies. This is cut from the pork belly and is rather popular.

 

75514190_StewedPigsHeadSkin2.thumb.jpg.1efc3690564faad2ea5367008e8d2871.jpg

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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