I did serve it as a starter course but, oh boy, it’s just as good when ladled over hot rice.
But what is beef tendon? It is a tough and fibrous tissue that connects the muscle to the bone of the animal. Tendon turns gelatinous after simmering for several hours and acquires the mouthfeel of sticky and lightly chewy fat despite having low fat content.
Okay, so the sensation in the mouth is sticky chewy fat, but what is the flavor? It tastes like beef. The smell and beefy flavor is more pronounced, but it still tastes like beef.
What’s the best way to cook beef tendon? The best way to tenderize tendon — and by best I mean the most efficient way — is to use a slow cooker. Cooked in lightly salted water with very little agitation, the tendon becomes tender without losing its shape.
Once tender, cool the tendon in the cooking liquid, scoop out, transfer to a covered container and chill for several hours. The tendon turns firm when cold and makes cutting easier. If you cut the tendon while still hot, it will easily tear at the seams and fall apart. So cool and chill before cutting.
That’s about 600 grams of beef tendon that had been slow cooked, cooled and chilled overnight in the fridge. I spread them in a pan, drizzled in a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid and set the heat on low.
While the tendon was reheating, I made the sauce by stirring together sliced scallions, crushed garlic and ginger, Korean chili flakes, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sake, mirin, oyster sauce, sugar and sesame seed oil.
With the chunks of tendon heated through, I just poured the sauce over them and braised for ten minutes — just long enough to allow the tendon to soak up the color and flavor of the sauce.
Just ten minutes? Don’t cook longer because you don’t want the tendon to liquefy into the sauce. The dish is done at this point. But, if you want to give the sauce more time to penetrate into the innermost parts of the tendon, turn the heat off, cover the pan and leave to steep. Half an hour to an hour will work wonders. If you have the time and patience, you can cool the tendon and sauce, chill and reheat the next day.
Beef tendon with soy chili garlic ginger sauce
- Slow cooker
- 500 to 600 grams beef tendon
- 1 tablespoon rock salt
- Rinse the tendon well and remove all visible impurities.
- Place the cleaned tendon in the slow cooker, pour in enough boiling water to cover then add salt.
- Cook on HIGH for six hours or until tender and can easily be pierced with a fork.
- Cool in the liquid, scoop out, transfer to a container, cover and chill in the fridge until firm.
- Pour the cooking liquid into another container and refrigerate.
- Cut the chilled tendon into bite-sized pieces.
- Spread the tendon in a shallow pan, add about a quarter cup of the cooking liquid, and set over low heat.
- Pound and grind the garlic and ginger using a mortar and pestle.
- Put the garlic and ginger in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients for the sauce and mix well.
- Pour in a quarter cup of the tendon cooking liquid and whisk to combine.
- Pour the sauce over the tendon in the pan, and bring to a gentle boil.
- Braise the tendon for at least ten minutes. Optionally, allow to steep for 30 minutes to an hour after turning off the heat.