One of my favorite dishes at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants is the beef tendon with green onions at Fu Fu Cafe (9889 Bellaire, Suite 105). In all honesty, Fu Fu's take on the stewed sinew is a complete mystery to me. The tendons are sautéed in a sweetly salty sauce with caramelized white onions and stalks of green onion. The pungency of the onions evens out the rich texture and subtle flavors of the tendons. My suspicion is that the sauce involves hoisin sauce and quite a bit of mama's love.
So what exactly is beef tendon? Well, when prepared correctly, beef tendon is the Jell-O of the meat group, and who doesn't love Jell-O?
You can find tendons in specialty meat markets near the oxtails. But be warned that the tendon does not look like the typical beef product. It more resembles irregular white PVC pipes. Try cutting into raw beef tendon and you'll find the analogy to PVC pipes holds true. However, stewing the tendons for 3 hours will render them translucent and tender. Only then will the tendons become pliable and resemble Jell-O. And like Jell-O, the tendons can be flavored any way you want. This is because the stewed sinew easily absorbs the liquid in which it is cooked.
I know the thought of a warm, mushy, translucent, gelatinous meat product does not appeal to some...well, most people. However, getting over the description will allow you to enjoy a most delectable and healthy beef product. According to LiveStrong.com, a 100-gram (3.5 ounce) serving of beef tendon is only 150 calories, with a laughable 0.5 grams of unsaturated fat and a whopping 36.7 grams of protein. Not only is it a lean source of protein, its texture makes your mouth think you're indulging in a fat-laden splurge. But your brain knows better and your heart will thank you later.
So to you adventurous few, take the culinary skydive into this dish and know you're enjoying one of the healthier meat options.
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