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February 28, 2013 / amberwoodterracechiro

Authentic Mexican: Ceviche and Cow Tongue Tacos

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Please excuse the food photography; when you are in the middle of enjoying an amazing meal with amazing friends, you forget to set up a pretty picture before everything is gone!  A few months back, I invested in a 1/4 of a cow.  This came with all the regular cuts of meat AND I was the only one that wanted all the organs!  So, I also got the liver, bones, heart, and tongue.  Yup.  Thanks to my good ole friend, Chet, I knew that tongue and heart just tasted like muscle for the most part!  Why not toy with making it myself?!  Yea….months later, the organs were still sitting in my freezer and I vowed that I could not possibly bring myself to prepare something that ACTUALLY looked like a tongue!  I could eat it once it appeared like any other piece of meat, but I did not want to stare at a tongue and cut it up.  I knew that one of my friends ate cow tongue regularly with her family.  They are from Mexico, and they still prepare very traditional food.  So, I asked her if she would be willing to help me out.  I will nominate the Cox’s house, I’ll bring the tongue, and she could prepare it….Mexican style. 😉  She said absolutely, and that is how it all began.

First things first.  We went to the Mexican grocery.  I want to mention that I was the only white soul in the place aside from the homeless man looking at nude magazines, and Brenda kept laughing at me.  However, we turn down the produce aisle, and I was right at home: vegetables, papaya, avocado, etc.  Then the meat counter.  They were making carnitas….and they definitely had cracklings piled a mile high on top of the counter.  I did not try any, but I thought about it!  Tongue was adventurous enough for the day.  We had to venture down a packaged food aisle to get the tortillas and tostadas.  I turned to my right and saw tons of “little debbie-esque” food!  I said “Do people eat this stuff?!”  Brenda let me know that these kinds of foods were common “snacks.”  Fake food is EVERYWHERE!  Before we checked out, I told her we HAD to get Mexican chocolate for dessert.  Mmmmm.

We finally made it home and basically became sous chef’s for Brenda as she prepared cow tongue and ceviche.  Since she always says her weakness is sweets, Lindsey and I decided to make her Mexican chocolate paleo brownies.  Can I just say that the best part of the day (aside from learning traditional food and how recipes are completely in people’s heads!) was watching Brenda’s face as we threw salsa in the food processor, shredded carrots in the processor, and sliced cucumbers with the same contraption.  She had never heard of a food processor before!  You can imagine how amazing life just got for someone that has to puree, dice, slice, and chop EVERYTHING they want to eat!  She was SURE someone was playing a sick joke on her as she held up the shredded carrot in disbelief.  Ha!  I love it.

Now for the good stuff:

Cow tongue tacos:

Prep the tongue by removing any hair that may be stuck to it….but this probably isn’t necessary. Cut the tongue in half.  Place it in a stock pot and bring to a boil with a whole onion, a head of garlic, and some salt. (Just throw the aromatics in there whole, you are just flavoring with them, not eating them).  Simmer for 2 1/2-3 hours until the white connective tissue comes off easily.  Peel it off.  Let the tongue cool and dice it up.  Put it in a taco w/garnishes.  We going authentic, so we ate them with 100% corn tortillas; however, if I were to make it at home, I would enjoy it just as much in a lettuce cup.  We served it with fresh tomatillo salsa, radishes, cucumber, sauteed green onion, avocado, onion, cilantro, and lime.

These brought me back to my days in Honduras and Costa Rica.  I’m pretty sure I had cow tongue there without knowing it.  The taste was entirely too familiar.  For those of you scared….don’t be!  I just tastes like meat, and you wouldn’t know it was tongue.  Although I won’t lie, once it was cooked, before it was diced, it looked very similar to the cadaver tongues that I used to teach from in lab!  Yikes!  It is just another muscle, and you can probably get it cheap!

Ceviche:

This was my FAVORITE dish.  I will be making it again.  One thing I notice about traditional food, is that most of it is Paleo compliant….and full of flavor!  Like I said, she kept the recipe in her head; so this was my best recollection.

(this makes a ton! If you are cooking for only a few, cut it in half)

8 white fish filets (we used tilapia and perch)

1 1/4 cup lime juice (fresh squeezed…it takes quite a few limes!)

a splash of EVOO

1 cucumber, seeded, finely diced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

3 peeled carrots, shredded

1/2 bunch cilantro w/stems

1 roma tomato, seeded

2Tbsp white vinegar

salt to taste

Boil a pot of water and add the fish.  Bring back to a boil, then turn off and immediately remove fish!  Put the fish in a bowl in the fridge to cool off.  Then, shred the fish with a fork.  Add the lime juice and let sit in the fridge for 1 hour.  Add chopped veggies and EVOO and mix together.  I would say this makes about 8 cups and will stay in the fridge for about 3 days before spoiling. We ate this on tostadas, which were like corn chips.  However, it would have been equally amazing on sliced jicama.

For the brownies, we made the macadamia nut, ginger brownies out of the Almond Flour Cookbook but used chopped Mexican chocolate as opposed to the chocolate chips.  We also made the chocolate frosting for them from her book and used the Mexican chocolate instead of dark chocolate.  This was definitely more sugar than usual for me.  Mexican chocolate is sugar, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon.  You should try it at least once for the experience.  😉

 

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