Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Beef Tendon?! Fabulous!!!!!!




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kaplods
07-09-2009, 09:05 PM
My husband and I have become friends with a Hmong couple who own a thai restaurant. Often when we're they're, the'll bring out foods they're thinking about adding to the menu (or that are on the unspoken menu).

We've found that many ethnic restaurants have a seperate menu for people from the culture. In one Chinese restaurant, my husband started chatting with the owner about a soup that he had had when he worked in a chinese restaurant where he'd eaten a soup made only for the restaurant staff. The woman disappeared and came back with a menu written in chinese, and pointed to a line on the menu. My husband copied down the characters so he would recognize it again.

Today when we were dining at the thai restaurant, and they were talking about how their Hmong friends and customers were asking them why they don't have beef tendon on the menu, so they've begun making it, but it's not on the menu yet. So far, they've only been telling Hmong customers because they're not sure whether it would go over well with caucasians. We were asked if we were willing to give them our input.

Now I'm willing to taste almost anything, and I've had beef tendon in Pho, (pronounced fuh, rhymes with duh. It's a noodle soup), so I said sure.

So they brought out a small bowl of what looked like beef stew (slightly fatty cuts of meat with onions with au jus) over rice. But what I thought was fat wasn't, it was the tendon itself, with good size chunks of meat attached. I expected it to be tough, but it was so tender and wonderful. It had the taste and texture of a truly awesome, melt-in-your-mouth, slow roasted american-seasoned pot roast.

I checked out the calorie count on Daily Plate, and it's only 150 calories for about 3.5 ounces (and it's all protein, not fat).

I know tendon sounds very strange to most non-asians, but this stuff is so awesome. It's a cheap cut of meat (if you can really call it meat), but it has to be cooked forever to be made this tender. It's boiled for three hours and then roasted with onion and seasonings. The main flavor is of beef, onion, and a bit of salt (not even particularly "asian" for folks who don't like oriental flavors, just wonderful pot roast).

I feel like I've "discovered" something so amazing I want to spread the word.

But here's my big question. My husband and I loved it, but we don't know if the name (and what it is) would scare most non-asians. When the owners asked whether we thought if they should put it on the menu, or would it scare people off, perhaps from trying anything on the menu, we didn't know.

So, would you try it? And if not, would seeing it on a menu scare you off of other dishes on the menu (because they might contain something "weird" too)?


harrismm
07-09-2009, 09:21 PM
Gosh no.ive seen far to many human tendons in my life to ever consider consuming one.But, hey....good for you.Plus I dont eat beef or pork.I have a major overactive gag reflux.I just couldnt do it.

bacilli
07-09-2009, 09:54 PM
I asked DH about this, since he still eats meat. He said if a menu said beef tendon, he wouldn't eat it. However, if it said slow cooked beef in sauce, spices, etc, he would eat it.


kaplods
07-09-2009, 10:07 PM
However, if it said slow cooked beef in sauce, spices, etc, he would eat it.

That's what we thought too, but the owner pointed out that disguising it's origin could backfire and might not even be legal (you can't say simmered beef and give a customer beef liver). Also, while it tastes like beef, up close it doesn't really look like beef. There's way too much of the connective tissue attached, and at best people are going to think that they were using very poor cuts of meat.

I ate with a coworker once who went batty once when the meat on her philadelphia cheese steak sandwhich was too fatty. I mean she went nutty on the waitress (and it didn't look that bad to me, the steak just could have been trimmed a bit better).

Appearance and expectations are a big part of food taboos, so I'm not sure how to inform the customer without being deceptive - or how to explain the dish without taking up half the menu in explanation.

Starrynight
07-09-2009, 10:14 PM
Haha, yes it is well-known that a lot of what most people know as east asian food is most definitely not real East Asian food.
My boyfriend took me to this Vietnamese restaurant that specializes in soups and it also had beef tendon in the soup, among a whooole palate of other flavors and vegetables (ugh thinking about that soup has got me salivating, I don't remember the name, they had character writing + english pronouncement + a description, but my bf recommended it to me) - and they also had a whole thing at the table of different spices and sauces to mix in with the food, thankfully my boyfriend showed me which ones to try out and it was THEE best soup I've ever had and one of the most satisfying, yet healthy meals I've ever had.
The thing is that restaurant thrives on its authenticity, but of course, it is located in an area right around a lot of other east asian groceries and restaurants.. and even though it isn't for everyone, that places is ALWAYS packed with every race/ethnicity. Good stuff!

kaplods
07-09-2009, 10:20 PM
I love condiments (hubby teases me that I need a separate refrigerator for all of my condiments) and what I love about our friends' restaurant is that they bring out a CART full of seasonings and condiments for the soup, along with a plate of fresh veggies, herbs and lime to stir in. It was intimidating at first, but now we each have our own favorite combinations.

jab91864
07-09-2009, 10:29 PM
A tendon doesn't sound that scary and the only thought that originally came to mind when I started reading was tough. Seeing how it's cooked till tender it sounds fine.

Starrynight
07-09-2009, 10:38 PM
I love condiments (hubby teases me that I need a separate refrigerator for all of my condiments) and what I love about our friends' restaurant is that they bring out a CART full of seasonings and condiments for the soup, along with a plate of fresh veggies, herbs and lime to stir in. It was intimidating at first, but now we each have our own favorite combinations.
Yeah me too!! Keep the spices and the condiments coming! This was my first time trying any of this and it was absolutely great, I love trying different foods/spices. I think I used this spicy peanut, garlicky sauce..? Not sure, but now that I'm reminded of it, I think I am going to buy some at the asian market.
Haha, yeah they also brought over a whole separate plateful (I thought it was someone else's meal) of various herbs and limes to mix in as well! The tables all had an array of spices/sauces to use and they even had complimentary tea with tiny little teacups! I think it is a cultural thing that has been brought over and kept alive through the restaurants
I love it, the food is SOO filling and flavorful, yet afterwards (we actually walked about 1.5 miles to get there), we felt, really full, but still energized and good.

evilwomaniamshe
07-09-2009, 10:49 PM
When I read the post, I read beef tenderloin! So maybe some would read the same/ and or think it was a mere typo on the menu. It does sound kinda gross now that it reads beef tendon. But heck, why not put it on the menu, some would try it out of curiosity albeit, you know like frog legs...

mayness
07-09-2009, 11:13 PM
Well, it definitely wouldn't scare me away from the restaurant in general. I think they'd have to put the word "tender" in the description to get me to consider ordering it, and even then I might not believe them. :) But now that I've read about it, I'm curious!

kaplods
07-10-2009, 12:38 AM
I have to admit that I was shocked at the tenderness. The owner had tried to tell me several times how great tendon was, and I wasn't really sold on the idea. Because I do know that she likes tough, chewy texture.

There's this pork rib they make. It's not really rib as much as "fat back" (yep, like in the Beverly Hillbillies). Think a slab of bacon that hasn't been smoked or salt cured, and still has a layer of skin (yep, real skin) on it. It's seasoned with a seasoned rub and then fried.

It tastes very good, but the layer of skin is crispy, but very tough and chewy (like you'd expect tendon to be). You have to "work at it" to chew it (more like cracklins than pork rinds), so we joke that it's pork flavored bubble gum. Guys sometimes order it as a meal with white rice or sticky rice, but often it's ordered as an appetizer to split with everyone at the table.

My husband loves it, but I usually talk him out of ordering it, because it is so not a diet-friendly dish.

I really was expecting the tendon to be as chewy (sometimes in soup it still has a bit of texture to it), but it just melted in your mouth, with that wonderous mouthfeel you get from the collagen breaking down into gelatin, that you find in home made soups made from stock and slow cooked bone-in meats (which I learned from Alton Brown).

Yeah, it's really good stuff.

Cebsme
07-10-2009, 01:11 AM
Hmong culture and the food is something I miss greatly about back home in Wisconsin. (Grew up in Wisconsin Rapids). I know a number of people that would try it. I would say to put it on the menu, someones going to try it, and then tell their friends. That's often how it works.

Now I miss home....

tommy
07-10-2009, 01:13 AM
Oh my- I had this on the list for the fall. I used to get a packet at the Chinese market that was tendon along with some lean tail meat. It was about $4 for the packet. I put it in the crock pot with a whole head of garlic cut in half, some star anise, and some ginger slices, and a few whole dry peppers. (salt to taste). After about 6 hours I added vast amounts of chopped greens and let go for another few hours till everything was soft and falling apart. The result was the most satisfying bowl of gelatinous, brothy goodness. There was little or no fat floating on top. It was so good it did not need any carbs with it.

kaplods
07-10-2009, 02:04 AM
Hmong culture and the food is something I miss greatly about back home in Wisconsin. (Grew up in Wisconsin Rapids). I know a number of people that would try it. I would say to put it on the menu, someones going to try it, and then tell their friends. That's often how it works.

Now I miss home....


Ironically, we were discussing this around the table, when we tasted the beef tendon. We said we would definitely pass the word about the beef tendon, because with the flavors, we knew so many people who would love it, but would probably never order it on their own.

We're already planning some take-out when my family visit from Illinois. That's one thing about my family, they won't try anything new, unless it's broght home by someone else. If it's in a to-go container, then they can't resist. When we were visiting them in IL, we suggested a thai restaurant (there are several good ones in Bloomington, IL where they live) and my mom said "I don't like thai food," and so my sister said "then why do you always scarf down my leftovers when I bring them home?")

(I don't mean to say that my parents are cheapskates, they're just very afraid of wasting money on food they may not like. They're braver if they're not having to choose it or pay for it themselves).

Word of mouth (and free food) really are the best advertising. When we first found the restaurant, I was passing the word like mad, even handing out take-out menus to friends, family, and aquaintences. They couldn't have had better advertisement if they'd paid me. There was (and still is) no restaurant like theirs in the community. There's a couple that do thai food, but nothing as remarkable as this restaurant. Since new restaurants have such a high failure rate I was doing whatever I could to ensure they stay in business (if only so I would have easy access to papaya salad and laab).








Oh my- I had this on the list for the fall. I used to get a packet at the Chinese market that was tendon along with some lean tail meat. It was about $4 for the packet. I put it in the crock pot with a whole head of garlic cut in half, some star anise, and some ginger slices, and a few whole dry peppers. (salt to taste). After about 6 hours I added vast amounts of chopped greens and let go for another few hours till everything was soft and falling apart. The result was the most satisfying bowl of gelatinous, brothy goodness. There was little or no fat floating on top. It was so good it did not need any carbs with it.

Oh tommy, that sounds so good. I noticed when I checked the calories that Daily Plate had listed oxtail as a food most commonly eaten with beef tendon - and it took a while, but I know why the taste was so familiar. My grandmother would make oxtail soup (which also creates that amazing richness of dissolved gelatin).

Then it reminded me of an article I recently read in Gourmet magazine that compared the taste of oxtail to prime rib.

mandalinn82
07-10-2009, 02:32 AM
Discussed with Sarah for consensus.

We would probably not choose it, the first time we went there, as an entree. However, if someone else in our party tried it, we'd definitely take a bite to try, and order it again if we liked it. I've never looked at a menu, ever, seen something odd, and ruled out the entire menu as "weird". Ever, ever, ever. Just can't imagine it!

We're moderately adventurous eaters (I love pho, but am pretty hesitant toward new things, Sarah is a little more adventurous)

BlueToBlue
07-13-2009, 10:46 PM
I am super picky about meat. I can't eat meat if it has even the tiniest bit of identifiable fat or gristle. Even bones can be a problem for me. I could be your coworker who went batty over the meat in her Philly cheese steak being to fatty, except that 1) I would never be that rude to waitstaff, I would just end up not eating the sandwich and then lying to the waitstaff when asked if I liked it and 2) I would never in a million years order a Philly cheese steak because I already know that there's no such thing as one that has lean enough meat for me.

So, I don't think there's any way that I would try this dish. Even if someone else ordered it, they'd have to really rave about it and really pester me about before I would try it.

BUT, that wouldn't in any way impact how I feel about the restaurant or discourage me from eating there. Given how picky I am about meat (sometimes even the chicken isn't lean enough), I'm used to there being a lot of items on menus that I'm not interested in. I'd just order something I was more comfortable with.