Beef Tendon in Chili Sauce

I walked into my local butcher the other day and asked if they sold tendon.

“Tendon? In the five years that I’ve worked here, I’ve never had anyone ask for tendon. I’ll have to contact our farm in Maine and find out.”

“What do people usually do with the tendon?”

“They usually throw it together with the bones to make stock.”

Ah yes . . . stock, or bone broth, has been the latest health craze. Supposedly the longer the broth cooks, the more nutrients it can extact from the bones and surrounding tendons and cartilage. Ideally, a nutritious bone broth should be solid when chilled, a result of its high concentration of gelatin.

Even though our ancestors (or at least our grandmothers) have been making broth from bones for centuries, it isn’t until very recently that people have begun drinking it daily as if it were a health elixir that will boost our immune system, rejuvenate our joints, prevent bone loss, freshen up our skin, and provide a boatload of vitamins in the process. There’s even a place in New York City now dedicated to selling cups of bone broth (at $5 for a cup!) so that busy workers can get their daily nutrient boost on-the-go.
There’s a lot of skepticism surrounding these claims. Some say there’s limited scientific evidence to back it all up, though most people agree that broth is nutritious. Additionally, scientific evidence does support the benefit of chicken broth in reducing inflammation and collagen consumption reducing bone loss (at least in mice). {source}

I’m glad to hear that tendon, which is high in protein and low in fat, is at least neutral if not nutritious, because I absolutely LOVE it. Whenever I order pho at a Vietnamese restaurant, I always get the beef + tendon option. I can’t help but order mala beef tendon every time I’m at a Sichuan restaurant.

And then more recently, my mom brought over some tendon she had made.

It was phenomenal. Soft and gelatinous, tendon is like the fatty part of pork belly but without any of the fat. It’s like eating fat but knowing it’s virtually fat free. Guiltless decadence tossed in just a bit of chili oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, and tons of cilantro.

It was heavenly and I wanted to make my own….

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Hello spring! Finally!  We finally got to experience “spring-like” weather yesterday with temperatures flirting with the 60’s.  Of course, with that came some lovely intermittent rain showers, but for brief moments, it was glorious to actually feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face. Spring is a time when seasonal menus finally start to come alive…

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Savory Chinese Pumpkin Cake (family recipe)


Note: This post was originally written as a submission for the 8th round of Project Food Blog, an international blogging competition that I ended up winning in 2010 (to see all my posts from that competition, click here).  In round 8 of the competition (out of a total of 10 rounds), contestants had to create a…

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