While popular in many cuisines, tongue has never been considered the trendiest (or prettiest, or choicest) of meats, though that’s starting to change in Toronto. Here are five tongue dishes that will have yours drooling.
Clockwise from top left:
Cod tongue tempura, The Atlantic Restaurant
Chef Nathan Isberg turns these tiny tongues into perfect bites by marinating them in green garlic and wine, frying them up in a tempura batter, and serving with a house-made kimchi that includes celery root and wild anise ($8). The tongues are (on average) the size of a toonie and any cartilage inside dissolves during the cooking process, giving them, says Isberg, “a very unctuous and melty texture.”
1597 Dundas St. W., 416-219-3819.
Tongue sandwich, Yitz’s Delicatessen
For 42 years, the pickled tongue sammie ($8.95) has been on the menu at this Eg West deli. Owner Barry Silver said he was eating tongue long before it was trendy, and while the dish is still more popular with the older generations, young’uns are starting to catch on. Here, whole raw beef tongues are pickled in a secret spice blend, boiled, then peeled. Silver recommends it on rye bread with deli mustard, as tradition calls for. Order a double (that’s two times the meat, $13.95) for twice the tongue action.
346 Eglinton Ave. W., 416-487-4506.
Duck tongues, Food & Liquor
East meets west in Parkdale at this boozy new snack bar. Inspired by a common dim sum dish, the kitchen gives duck tongues the sweet-and-sour treatment with soy, white wine vinegar, Thai chilies, and honey. Co-owner Vincent Ng says the end result tastes like a bowlful of bite-sized chicken wings ($7). He suggests pairing them with a pint of Silversmith black lager to balance the sweetness of the quacker’s clappers.
1610 Queen St. W., 647-748-7113.
Smoked tongue pastrami burger, The Rude Boy
At this (non-Rihanna-themed) Roncy joint, The Contender ($11.50) brings a griddle-smashed patty topped with tongue. Chef and co-owner Liam Kelly brines the tongue for 12 days, simmers it with pickling spice for three hours, then rolls it in crushed, toasted peppercorns and coriander seeds before it gets a dose of hot-smoking. Stay classy by chasing it with an ice-cold PBR.
397 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-533-3269.
Corned beef tongue scramble, Beast Restaurant
Give bacon a break and start your day with tongue and eggs instead. A salty, corned version of the stuff shows up on Beast’s weekend brunch menu, diced in a scramble along with semi-cured tomatoes, Gruyère, and sorrel pesto ($12). While beef tongue is a staple for the dish, chef Scott Vivian will occasionally swap in water buffalo or bison instead. Like most meals at the restaurant, it’s mammoth (a buttermilk biscuit and potatoes are included), but be sure to leave room for a doughnut.
96 Tecumseth St., 647-352-6000.
Do you eat tongue? If so, what’s your favourite dish?