Pan-fried garlic-marinated melt-in-the-mouth ox tongue. Lengua (ox tongue) salpicao is so indulgent that it is more of a special occasion dish than an everyday one.
To begin with, ox tongue is not exactly cheap and the cost screams that it be reserved for special occasions.
Second, the cooking time is quite long so it isn’t something that homecooks busy with other aspects of life can easily prepare. Of course, in this day and age, there are such things as pressure cookers and slow cookers. But the rest of the preparation steps — cooling, peeling, cooling before slicing, marinating — still need to be followed for optimum results.
For a background on “salpicao”, see the beef salpicao recipe. Note, however, that salpicao made with tenderloin and salpicao made with tongue won’t look the same. They won’t have the same mouth feel (naturally) and the lengua salpicao will not have that saucy finish of beef salpicao. The main difference is that with beef salpicao, raw meat is placed in the pan and the seasonings are added during cooking. With lengua salpicao, the meat is precooked and the seasonings are added to the marinade.
Why the difference in procedure? Because cooked lengua cannot withstand too much cooking and stirring in the pan. The meat will fall apart. So, the shorter the frying time, and the less you move the tongue pieces in the pan, the better.
Lengua (Ox Tongue) Salpicao
- 1 ox tongue about a kilo in weight, plus aromatics for boiling
- 1/4 cup finely minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 to 10 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 8 to 10 tablespoons liquid seasoning (I used Knorr — I do not recommend substituting soy sauce)
- 1/3 cup flour
- 5 tablespoons butter combined with 10 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 red onion finely sliced
- sliced scallions to garnish
Scrub and rinse the tongue several times. Place in a pot. Pour in enough water to cove. Add salt liberally and whatever aromatics you like — I used a whole garlic, a whole onion, 1 tsp. of peppercorns and a bay leaf.
If using a pressure cooker (I did!) or a slow cooker, you won’t need as much liquid. About two cups in a pressure cooker and cup in a slow cooker should do it.
In the pressure cooker, this will take about an hour and a half to two hours. In the slow cooker, on low, it takes about 10 hours.
Cool the meat then peel off the skin. If the meat has been sufficiently cooked, the skin will come off easily. If it doesn’t, the tongue needs to be cooked a longer.
Wrap the tongue in cling film and chill in the fridge before cutting. The meat is already very tender and cutting will still warm or at room temperature might make the meat fall apart. So, chill for a few hours.
When the meat is well chilled, cut into one-inch cubes. Place in a bowl. Add the minced garlic, black pepper, 4 tbsps. of olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and liquid seasoning. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for several hours, preferably overnight.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a wide heavy bottomed pan (cast iron is ideal) that can hold all the tongue pieces in a single layer.
Place the marinated tongue in a resealable bad. Add the flour. Shake to coat each piece with flour.
Fry the lengua until lightly browned.
Transfer to a platter. Top the lengua salpicao with the sliced onion and scallions.