Ox Tongue Steaks, Japanese Style (from Beef or Bison)

Contains:  Offal, soy (legumes).  Is:  Japanese, gluten-free, with the proper soy sauce, can be Paleo/Whole 30, if using coconut aminos.

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything offally-inclined.  But here we are, once again, in the waste-not, want-not aspect of a homesteader.  Plus, I really like most (not all) offal, aka “variety meats”.   I grew up with it.  Familiarity breeds acceptance.  And it was a LOT cheaper, then.  If you have your proper sources: location-dependent, it is still somewhat cheaper now.

This recipe is from Chef Saito‘s video to this effect.  Unfortunately, he hams his presentation up in an overblown way that fails to engage me, but I was really interested in seeing if one can cook this meat up as steaks or not.   Yes, you can – you have to use the softer back end of the tongue (the part that roots into the animal’s throat) and reserve the tip region for more of a longer braising or boiling method).

tongue, ox, beef, bison, buffalo, recipe, steak

Medallions or steaks as they start to cook. Carpet with scallions/green onions.

(I’ll post any potentially “offending” pictures of tongue that looks like what it came from, at the bottom of this recipe.  I don’t “get it”, as I grew up with mother’s ox tongue as a staple dinner item, but I’ve gotten called out on this sort of thing in the past.
In addition, I got around people’s visual food phobias about what I brought into work for lunches by chopping the “offensive” bits into small fragments unrecognizable as heart or tongue.  This didn’t work with squid tentacles however, and I just had to let that specific individual who couldn’t stand looking at them on my plate just go sit somewhere else, if she arrived after I was already seated.  While my aim is never to offend, but educate, and enjoy meals, there’s only so much one can do!)

recipe, beef, ox, bison, tongue, offal, rice, mung bean sprouts, pan fried

The accompanying items today. You can also add in colorful veggies such as carrots and red bell pepper slices.

One can use either beef or buffalo tongue for this recipe – they taste and cook the same.

Because you are cutting off the skin of the tongue prior to cooking, there will inevitably be some wastage of meat that will adhere to the skin.  This won’t peel off, when raw.

Chef Saito cooks this in the Japanese manner, and uses mung bean sprouts, a couple longitudinally slices of pre-steamed/boiled carrot, shredded daikon radish, and his homemade ponzu sauce (essentially just soy sauce plus citrus, as in lime juice).  I will be adding a splash of sesame oil to this.  I’m not normally a fan of carrot, but if I over-cook that vegetable, I can eat it.  As for the daikon, my last trip to the supermarket failed to turn this up, but go ahead anyway!

The tricks are NOT to use the tip section of the tongue, to remove the skin prior to cooking, to slice fairly thick steaks (looks like about an inch thick at any rate), cook on a low to medium heat – there’s some sizzle there – rather than high, flip after three minutes, cook another three, then let rest for five.  He adds way too much salt to the tongue – I may just baste this in low-sodium soy sauce (San-J is my go-to brand, in the absence of any real Japanese food markets remotely near me).  San-J also has the benefit of coming in a gluten-free option which I use – and it tastes REAL, anyway.  Or sprinkle a hint over the tongue, all sides, and let pre-“marinate” for 15 minutes.

I didn’t cook in the suggested sesame oil, as I’ve now been entrained to use this as a condiment instead.  But since the temperature is NOT very high heat, choose your own path forward!

Vegetables are a suggestion.  Any good batch of Japanese veggies can be a great base for this dish.  And nothing says you can’t bring the basic principles of this dish into other cultural paradigms of seasonings and accompanying vegetables.  I could see cooking, say, a hangar, flat iron, or flank steak this way.

Prep Time:  25 minutes.
Cook Time:  The meat/veggies:  10 minutes.  The rice will depend on cooking method, but longer – adjust them concurrently.  The rice can stay warm for quite a while.
Rest Time:  5 minutes.
Serves:  2
Cuisine:  Japanese.
Leftovers:  Yes.

Ox Tongue Steaks, Japanese Style


  • 1 tongue, front portion, ie, the tip, removed (saved for another dish).  Use the back, more tender area, instead.
  • 1/2 cup sushi rice
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu sauce (or to 1/4 cup of low sodium tamari sauce, add the juice of half a lime).  You can make a Ponzu sauce with coconut aminos instead of tamari, for Whole30 compliance.
  • Optional shredded daikon radish – to add to the Ponzu sauce.  
  • Salt and pepper to taste.  
  • Cooking oil, about 2-3 tablespoons.  (I used grapeseed oil).
  • Sesame seed oil, around 1 teaspoon.  Toasted or hot is up to you.


Prepare the rice according to the package – I use a 1:2 ratio of rice to lightly salted water, after rinsing the rice about three times in fresh running water.  I use a rice cooker for convenience.  If the rice is cooked before the rest of the meal is ready, let it sit on the “warming” function.

Meanwhile, take the portion of tongue, and cut off all the skin. This will not remove easily from the raw tongue, and you will lose a little bit of meat in the process.  Cut away any excess bits of fat that appear at the hind end of this tongue, and discard as well.

Slice the tongue into medallions of about an inch (2.5 cm) thick.

You can score the medallions if desired.  I skipped this step.

Salt and pepper the steaks, and let rest 15 minutes.  

If you need to make your own Ponzu sauce, you can make it now.  If you do have shredded daikon radish, add this to the Ponzu and set aside.  Or, omit.

Heat up a large skillet and add your cooking oil.  Heat to a medium heat level – too hot will turn the tongue terribly tough!

Cook about 3 minutes each side.

At the end, drizzle the sesame seed oil over the medallions.

Remove from skillet, and rest for five minutes, covered.

While the tongue is resting, add the rice vinegar and the sugar to the rice, gently stirring with a knobby rice spatula, or a wooden spoon, to avoid mashing the rice.

Also, stir fry up the bean sprouts or other vegetables you will be using with this dish.  (If something needs a longer frying time, start that item while the tongue is cooking, and just simply add the less-needy veggies in later.)

Slice the medallions.  These should be pink inside.  Yes, I know, if you like well-done meat, this dish will NOT work for you.  That alternative would be chewy like shoe leather.

Plate everything.  You can use the Ponzu sauce as a dip, or pour portions over the meal.

tongue, ox, beef, bison, buffalo, recipe, rare, steaks

The back half of a bison tongue. It has been cleared of skin, and is ready to be sliced into medallions (or, steaks, if you prefer).
tongue, ox, bison, beef, Japanese, steaks

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About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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