The Filipino culinary selection is as colorful as its history. The rich heritage left behind by different races our forefathers have interacted with in the past is evident not just in our way of life but also in our dishes.
Our featured recipe for this article is a dish that challenges many aspiring cooks, primarily because of how complicated it looks on the outside. And more often than not, we can only see this recipe being served during special occasions such as weddings and feasts, so most of us are not familiar with cooking this very festive recipe.
But no worries, because we’re here to help you out. We will provide you the necessary information that you need to know in cooking the Best Lengua Estofado: from preparing the protein up to the creamy and savory gravy that is sure to whet your appetite with excitement. So let us not prolong this chit-chat and dive straight ahead in cooking this festive treat.
What is Lengua Estofado
Lengua Estofado is a stew made from ox tongue. This dish is more of a special menu on special occasions given the fact that an ox tongue costs way higher than regular cuts of beef. And preparation time for this cut of meat is tedious so cooking it regularly is not that practical.
The ox tongue is simmered and tenderized for an extended period to ensure that it will come out tender and not rubbery. After that, the tongue is then sliced into thin pieces and then coated in a thin layer of bread to give it an added layer of texture and pan-fried quickly. After frying, that’s the time to add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer until thick.
Lengua Estofado is a dish that the Spaniards heavily influence. Much like Menudo, Afritada, and other meat stew that Filipino cuisine has, our featured recipe uses tomato as its sauce base. This contributes to the savory and flavorful sauce that blends well with the tenderness of the ox tongue. This unique recipe is on par with steaks when it comes to flavor and texture.
Lengua Estofado’s name translates to “tongue stew,” as Lengua is the Spanish term for tongue: while Estofado means stew in Spanish. If we look at Spanish and Mexican cuisine, ox tongue is a common element in their cooking. Burrito and taco use the tongue for their protein.
Ways to Cook Lengua Estofado
We can categorize Lengua Estofado as an heirloom dish, something that is part of our cultural heritage. And for that, some may argue that the best way to cook this dish is still the traditional way. However, sometimes using the more modern cooking equipment is wiser and practical to achieve better results.
That is why we have a list of other cooking methods that you can try in cooking the Lengua Estofado at the comforts of your own home. And see which one will work best for you and your cooking style.
The ever-reliable stovetop cooker: many of us still use this trusted piece of kitchen equipment mainly because of how affordable they are. Running out of LPG does not pose that much of a dilemma since many local businesses sell LPG tanks and refill services. Or you may have the electric stovetop cooker at home.
Either of the two types will work in cooking our recipe. There is not much of a difference since both rely on the same principle when cooking: using direct heat from the bottom to heat the cooking vessel.
Use a heavy-bottomed and heavy-lidded pot when simmering the ox tongue: This ensures that the heat will not dissipate quickly and that it will hold the heat for a more extended period. For simmering the meat, use the highest available setting on your electric or LPG-fueled stovetop cooker.
Once the ox tongue is tender and can already be sliced easily, that's the time to pan-fry the ox tongue and follow through with the rest of the ingredients. Simmer the dish until the ingredients are tender and cooked adequately.
The slow cooker or crockpot is a friend for people who have a lot to do in life. It allows you to push a button simply, and the cooker will do the work for you once all the necessary cooking steps have been done. You can leave the cooker for the day, and you won’t have to worry about overcooking or burning your dish.
The slow cooker is exactly what its name suggests: it slowly cooks food using a steady and low heat temperature. The benefit of simmering food is that it preserves the natural flavors of the ingredients. It also keeps the nutrients of the ingredients since it does not utilize high temperatures.
Another benefit is that the flavors blend well, given the extended cooking hours. So there’s a lot of reasons why you should try cooking using the slow cooker if you have one lying around the kitchen. The slow cooker is very energy efficient since it uses a meager amount of electricity when you’re using it.
We recommend that you tenderize the ox tongue first, then pan-fry it to create that caramelization. Then throw in the rest of the ingredients into the cooker and select the appropriate setting for meats. You can choose the high settings which will cook the food for about four hours or low for about six to eight hours.
The extended cooking period gives you the freedom to do other things at home without worrying about overcooking your dish.
A pressure cooker is a cook’s friend who does not have a lot of time to waste in the kitchen. Pressure cookers rely on steam and pressure to cook food for a shorter amount of time. So tough cuts of meat, such as our ox tongue, will tenderize faster when cooked using this kitchen equipment.
The pressure cooker pushes the water to its standard boiling point: this creates enough pressure and steam hot enough to tenderize meat faster than usual. Most of the time, it cuts the cooking time of tough cuts of meat by half. This applies to ox tongue as well, which tends to be rubbery when it's not cooked correctly.
Pressure cook your ox tongue along with some aromatics to infuse the flavors and remove the scent of the meat. Pressure cook the meat for about three hours or until the ox tongue is fork-tender, meaning the meat can be poked through easily using a fork.
Then scoop the tongue from the pressure cooker once you’re done releasing the pressure from the pot. You can do this by removing the valve on top of the cooker: or depending on the pressure release mechanism, which is different based on the manufacturer’s design.
Then slice the meat thinly and proceed with the cooking steps as indicated in the recipe. You can also use the pressure cooker to saute and simmer the dish to save you some of the hassles of transferring the ingredients.
Other Delicious Variants
Lengua Estofado is a household name when you ask an elderly for a suggestion for a festive dish. And because of its fame, there are a few variants that home cooks were able to come up with through the years.
On this list, you will find some of the well-known variants of Lengua Estofado. Try them and see which one fits your liking. You may even be able to come up with your version of it.
Filipino-Style Lengua Estofado
When one says Filipino style, many of us can infer that the dish is more on the sweet side of the flavor spectrum. This is true for most Filipino who take on foreign food. An example is Filipino-style spaghetti, which borders on the sweet side.
The same is true with the Filipino-style Lengua Estofado: this dish is savory. It will always have a strong hint of tomato, which makes it flavorful and laden with umami-goodness. But since this is Filipino-style, it will definitely have that hint of sweetness.
The process is the same as the original recipe: the only difference is the addition of sugar and liver spread in the ingredients. Sugar will highlight the sauce’s savory flavor, and the liver spread will add more body to it.
Proceed with the steps as the recipe dictates. Once you’re done sauteing the ingredients and the sauce has been added, that’s the time to put the sugar and liver spread. Adjust the sweetness depending on your liking.
With Creamy Mushroom sauce
This variant is probably one that most of us are familiar with. If you have attended a wedding, you may have seen this as part of the menu. This luxurious variant is oozing with goodness thanks to the creamy sauce and the succulent mushrooms, which adds that layer of bite to the dish.
Pre-boil the ox tongue before proceeding with the sauce. Set aside the stock from which you have simmered the tongue: you will use that later for the sauce. Heat a pan, and keep the temperature medium or low, and mix flour and butter. Stir the mixture constantly while adding the broth. Add the chopped mushrooms into the mixture.
Simmer the sauce along with the ox tongue slices until tender. Then add in the cream just before turning the heat off. This will prevent the cream from curdling.
With Red wine and Veal Stock
Red wine always goes well with meat. The wine’s natural sweetness highlights the flavor of the meat and leaves that taste in your mouth, making you crave more. Veal, on the other hand, is the meat from younger cattle.
Veal tastes milder, and when compared to meats coming from older cattle, the former will always be tender. Veal stock is made by simmering veal bones, veal meats, or trimmings. To flavor the broth, you will need to add mirepoix or a combination of carrots, celery, and onions. This stock is a base for most sauces that is partnered with meats.
Once the stock is ready, strain the broth. You will only be needing the clear stock and not the vegetables. Then proceed with the cooking steps as the recipe dictates. Replace the wine with the red wine and simmer until the alcohol dissipates.
Add the strained stock into the mixture and simmer until the broth is reduced in half or until it thickens. You can also thicken the sauce using a slurry of cornstarch and water.
Ox tongue will always be one of the cuts of meat that is on the expensive side. This is because the supply for it is low, but the demand is high. Ox tongue is also rich in Vitamin B12, which helps in boosting your immune system.
Tomatoes, which is the base of the sauce for this recipe, is rich in glutamic acid, contributing to its rich umami flavor.
Cooking this festive dish may pose a challenge for you, especially if you’re just new in the kitchen. But don’t worry, because we have your back. We’re here to guide you and help you become the best cook that you can be.
So here are some time-tested tips which you can count on when cooking Lengua Estofado.
- Simmer the ox tongue in aromatics to remove the unpleasant smell and infuse the needed flavors into it.
- To procure the best quality of meat for this recipe, we recommend that you purchase the ox tongue from the slaughterhouse or the market early in the morning.
Cooking dishes, especially for the first time, can sometimes be challenging; you may even encounter trouble. But that’s okay; these are the factors that make a great cook. So here are some troubleshooting steps that you can apply should you encounter trouble cooking Lengua Estofado.
- If the ox tongue is still tough after simmering, add a few leaves of jackfruit. This will help in tenderizing the ox tongue faster.
- Add a slurry of cornstarch and water if the sauce is a bit runny. This will help thicken the sauce.
Best Serve With
Festive dishes like Lengua Estofado are best enjoyed with other flavorful dishes. This completes the festive dining experience and makes you appreciate the dish even further. As a bonus, we listed down a few other dishes which will go well with our featured recipe.
This flavorful Spanish-inspired rice dish is a recipe that will truly complement the savory and delectable Lengua Estofado. The rice is a perfect canvass for the sauce of the latter.
Suam na Mais is a light yet flavorful chowder. This will wash down the richness of our featured recipe, making you crave more. And soup will always go well with any meat dishes.
This meaty and flavor-laden rice recipe will complete the festive vibe that our featured recipe brings. Bringhe is the Filipino take on Paella, but ours is more on the meaty side.
Traditional dishes are challenging to replicate, knowing the pressure we have since everyone has an acquired taste. But that’s the joy of it, challenging yourself to cook something new for you. So challenge yourself and, using the information we provided, try Lengua Estofado at home.
We know that you can do it, and you might even find other ways to make it better. So until next time, happy cooking!
For more delicious recipe, please visit Eat Like Pinoy!
- 2 lbs Beef lengua boiled until tender and sliced
- ½ cup Flour
- 1 can Diced tomato
- 1 cup Beef stock
- ¾ cup Wine
- 1 cup Water
- 1 pc White onion big size, finely chopped
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 tablespoon Brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon Soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Vinegar
- 5 pcs Bay leaf
- ½ cup Sliced mushroom botton
- 1 cup Green whole olives
- ¼ cup Black whole olives
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Ground black pepper
- ¼ cup Cooking oil
- Heat oil in a wide cooking pot
- Dredge the slice lengua in flour (shake away the excess flour) and then pan-fry in medium heat for 1 minute per side. Set aside.
- Add onion and garlic on the pot. Continue to cook until the onion gets tender.
- Pour the can of diced tomato and wine. Stir.
- Add the pan fried beef lengua.
- Stir-in soy sauce and water. Let boil.
- Add the bay leaves. Cover and cook in low heat until the sauce reduces to half.
- Add the vinegar. Allow the sauce to re-boil.
- Add sugar, green olives, black olives, and mushrooms. Stir. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Sprinkle some salt and ground black pepper to taste.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Serve.