Sticky, gelatinous and melt-in-the mouth tender, this beef tendon soup was in the slow cooker for eight hours. The wait was well worth it. The soup was so good it needed minimal garnish for proper appreciation.
I discovered beef tendon as a child. We were having beef boiled beef shanks with vegetables and woven into the meat were strips of something clear that resembled gelatin. I remember my father smiling as he watched me choose from the serving bowl the pieces of beef with more tendon in them.
Fast forward to decades later. I was a young mother to two chatty toddlers. We were at the supermarket and, in one of the freezers, I discovered trays and trays of beef tendon. No meat; just tendon. As though the tendons were carefully trimmed from the meat. I bought a tray and added the tendons to my pot of boiled beef and vegetables. Delectable!
It wasn’t long after when I discovered that at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants, there was a noodle soup in the menu topped with tender pieces of beef and beef tendon. I can’t remember anymore how many times I have ordered that item over the years.
Cherry Supermarket, the chain where we used to buy our trays of tendon, was bought off by a bigger chain, Pacman-like, and things were never the same. Fortunately, the newly opened Unimart at Capitol Commons sells beef tendon by the tray. Bigger tendons. Better quality.
Yesterday, I cut the tendons into bite-size pieces and dumped them into the slow cooker with about six cups of bone broth. I put the cooker on HIGH and, some eight hours later, the tendons were cooked to perfection. I made sure to peek and sample the tendons once in a while because, in the past, I have had the bad experience of overcooking tendons which made them liquefy into the broth.
A slow cooker isn’t a strict requirement for cooking beef tendons although I have to admit that it is a huge convenience. Loss of liquid is minimal so there is no need to keep adding broth — it’s something you need to do repeatedly because of evaporation if cooking the tendons in a regular pot on the stovetop.
The following recipe uses a slow cooker.
Beef Tendon Soup
Using a heavy and ultra sharp knife, cut the tendons into bite-size pieces.
Place the cut tendons in the slow cooker. Add the ginger, garlic and shallot. Pour in the bone broth. If your bone broth is well seasoned, there is no need to add salt and pepper at this point.
Set the slow cooker on HIGH and cook then tendons for eight hours or until tender and gelatinous. Alternatively, cook on HIGH for two hours then switch to LOW and cook for another eight to 10 hours.
An hour or so before cooking time is up, taste the broth; add salt and pepper, as needed.
To serve, place four to five pieces of tendon in a bowl. Pour in broth. Squeeze about a teaspoonful of lime or lemon juice over the tendons. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and fried garlic. Serve hot.