Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

January 20, 2012
Irene Saiger


Tongue in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Last night I attended the Annual Dinner for the non-profit where I work.  It was held at a restaurant in a very chic hotel in Los Angeles run by a chef who is known for his use of molecular gastronomy.  As I wandered around the room, I felt as if I were in a theatre where the food not only took center stage but the dishes were both unusual and magical.  Everything was bite size, with choices like Cotton Candy Foie Gras, (which I didn’t try) tiny cones filled with cream cheese and topped with salmon caviar, Caprese Salads no bigger than your thumb prepared with liquified mozzarella, and silver spoons that held “Spherical Olives” a process where the chef purees and strains olives to separate the essence, and somehow creates soft little green balls that, despite their olive flavor, are almost foam-like in consistency.  One of my favorite “bites” was the brown egg that looked as if it was soft-boiled but in fact was hollowed out and filled with Flan.

When all was said and done, I left feeling like I had experienced a great show.  I wasn’t disappointed, but I didn’t have that familiar sensation that you have when you eat a meal that is nourishing, earthy, and soulful, something like the dish I had prepared earlier in the week for a friend, Tongue in Spicy Tomato Sauce.

Tongue in Spicy Tomato Sauce

1 Beef or Calves’ Tongue

Bay Leaf

2 Large Onions

6 Cloves of Garlic

1 Green Pepper

1 tsp chili flakes

1 tsp dried oregano

1 14 oz. can tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cover Tongue with water, bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain and fill pot with fresh water, again making sure tongue is submerged.  Add one large onion cut in half, 1 large bay leaf, 3 cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt and about ½ tsp freshly ground pepper.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook tongue for about 2 hours.  Make sure that tongue can be easily pierced with a fork before removing from heat. Allow to cool completely.

In the meantime chop a large onion and sauté in 2 tbsp olive oil till translucent, about five minutes. Add 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp chili flakes, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp dried oregano.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add green pepper that you cut into strips. Then add 1-14 oz. can tomato sauce and about 1 cup water.  Cook for about 10 minutes covered, on low flame.

In the meantime, slice cold Tongue on the diagonal and add to tomato sauce. Cover and stew for about 30 minutes. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or corn tortillas. Serves 6-8



12 thoughts on “Tongue in Spicy Tomato Sauce

  1. Hi, Irene.

    The “bites” did not sound very appealing to me but that is because mommy was such a great cook as you are as well. Mommy made a very simple pickled tongue and I loved the tongue part but not the part that was fatty and ugly looking. We probably never developed an aversion to tongue like Lisa did because mommy called it “tzing.” There must be a lesson there!!

    When we come to LA one day you have to make us a “tzing.”

    Love, Anita

  2. Hi Irene,
    I totally agree with loving the earthy,
    the soulful, the hearty food.

    However, re: tongue & earthiness:

    I may not be THAT earthy.

    But as always, i love your stories!

    • Dear Barbie,

      You are one of my most “earthy” friends and am surprised that you didn’t eat this at Nibblers?? Thanks Barbie, really appreciate your following and commenting.


  3. Hi Irene,
    I’m not a tongue person, and maybe this is a dumb question, but can I follow the same recipe with chicken, like skinless chicken breast instead of tongue?
    I do know that the friend for whom you made the tongue last week just loved it!

  4. That event sounds incredible. I would have loved to observe the inside of that kitchen.

  5. When my daughter Lisa tasted tongue for the first time her comment was “what is this” her surprise hearing it was tongue yelled”WHOSE TONGUE” she has never eaten it again

  6. this sounds sensational if you eat this sort of dish. I would image it is delicious and” heart” warming. no tongue and cheek there…….:) Yet the place that your annual dinner was held is really awesome and a show in itself but not for the hearty……

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