Lengua Estofada (Braised Beef Tongue)


I’ve loved Lengua Estofada since I was a child. My grandmother and mother make really good ones. In fact, I called my mom last week to ask her how she makes them. I just smiled and nodded while listening, asking myself — What have I gotten into?

Let me explain. When I bought half a tongue, if I hadn’t known how good Lengua Estofada was, I would’ve backed out. I’ve neither cooked it before nor watched how it’s prepared, and coming face to face with this offal made my stomach turn.

It looks harmless and yummy!

I’ve witnessed pig, chicken, and cows killed for food. I eat fish eyes, fish eggs in the fish, and balut (it was one of the food challenges on Fear Factor). I’ve seen my fair share of ‘gross’, for lack of a better word, that’s why I didn’t foresee a squeamish self at the sight of beef tongue…but there you go. Cleaning and cooking it was another story. I won’t get there for the sake of some of you. I did not take step-by-step photos either, for the same reason.

This isn’t for the faint of heart, dear readers, but if you’re feeling adventurous you’ll be rewarded with something so delicious! I sure hope I didn’t deter you from making this beloved Filipino delicacy:

Lengua Estofado (Braised Beef Tongue)

The ingredients really came together. The tomato-based sauce added a boost of flavor to the meats. I cooked some beef meat with it, as you can see above, so that Dan will have something in case he didn’t like the tongue. He’s never had it before and I wasn’t about to force him to do so. [He did try a couple of slices and I’m so proud of him!] Traditionally, this dish has chunks of tomatoes and carrots, but for my version, I fried potato slices and took the carrots out altogether. Dan said the fried potato was perfect in this dish and was a nice contrast of texture with the tender meats.

Here’s the recipe:

Lengua Estofada (Braised Beef Tongue)


  • 1.2 lb beef tongue
  • 1 beef steak slice, sliced into 1″ strips (optional)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • smallest can of tomato paste
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, and more to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 portabella mushrooms (or equivalent volume in crimini or white button mushrooms)
  • 1 medium sized russet potato
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • water, about 3 cups
  • a few stalks of green onion, for garnish

For ‘cleaning’ tongue:

  • water
  • 1/4 c vinegar
  • salt


1. Mix salt and vinegar. Rub tongue with mixture, then rinse.

2. Put tongue in a sauce pan and add water until it is covered. Boil for 5 minutes.

3. Using a serrated knife, scrape the white surface. Make sure to remove all of it.

4. Heat olive oil in medium heat. Brown the tongue.

5. Transfer tongue into a pressure cooker. Add the wine, tomato paste, onions, garlic, peppercorns, 2 tsp salt, and tomato paste. Add about 3 cups of water, enough to cover everything.

6. Lock the pressure cooker and cook under medium-high heat. Once the regulator starts ‘whistling’, reduce heat to medium or medium low, to get a steady sway of the regulator. Start timing it for 30 minutes.

7. Fry your potato slices in olive oil.

8. Saute mushrooms in olive oil, add a little salt and pepper. Set aside mushrooms in pan.

7. After 30 minutes, run cold water over the pressure cooker, still sealed. About 3 minutes. Do not attempt to open it right out of the stove. When it’s safe and loose, unlock the pressure cooker.

8. Take out the tongue and meat, if added. Plate the sliced meat. Slice the tongue diagonally, into 1/2-centimeter thickness. Plate.

9. Add the tomato-based gravy from the pressure cooker to your pan with mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes. Tip: If you have leftover gravy, you can add heavy cream to it to use for grilled steaks.

10. Pour gravy over the meats. Garnish with chopped green onions. Enjoy!

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  • March 4, 2008 8:54 pm

    Beautiful. Love the beef tongue. I have cooked veal tongue a few times as it is readily available at the local Farmer’s Market. Peeling off the outer layer is a bit of a pain but worth it.

    One of my best friends growing up was Filipino. His mom made all the hits. Too bad we never had beef tongue. Beautiful work…. cooking and photography… especially that lighting.

    Balut? Nice work.


  • March 5, 2008 2:05 am

    I can remember my grandmother in Ireland cooking beef tongue – it was delicious! I still love it but my husband can’t stand it so I couldn’t tell you how long ago I last ate it.

  • March 5, 2008 2:19 am

    I love offal of all kind. I’ve never prepared beef tongue before, I may have to give this a try. Is it as good as sisig?

  • March 5, 2008 6:38 am

    I love lengua! In Mexico they made it in a similar way, but I really don’t remember how. I would also have to call my mom to ask her how to prepare it. Very delicious and good looking dish!

  • joy
    March 5, 2008 8:31 am

    Rowdy — Thanks! I wanted to try veal tongue for this recipe, but I decided to make the one I’m familiar with first before I move on to veal. I hear ya, that part was the worst for me.

    Balut was another childhood favorite. Haha.

    Thanks. I have to tell you, it’s more of having the white balance set and exposure compensation. I’ll talk more about that soon. :)

    A — What sauce base was used for that? I’m curious! Haha…well, it’s not everyone for sure. I’m just glad that Dan tried it.

    Chuck — Me, too! Beef tongue is great. I love sisig, too. I don’t think I can compare the two, taste-wise. Sisig is crunchy and more on the salty-lemon-y side (if you add that). Beef tongue when made into Lengua Estofada is ‘subdued’, in my opinion. It’s like eating some really tender, fine-grained meat. The sauce will be somewhat of a beef stew with a tomato base, but more flavorful especially if you cook it in a pressure cooker.

    Ben — Yay! I have a Mexican friend and when he had a party at his house he served all these dishes which are very similar to the Filipino dishes, like Menudo! I liked tasting the differences.

  • March 5, 2008 8:45 am

    that looks really good, I want some!
    [the security word? “lunch” :) ]

  • joy
    March 5, 2008 9:01 am

    Otilius — Haha, that’s funny. I wish I could say, ‘go get some!’, as restaurants that serve this are rare. Go make some, I say! :)

  • March 5, 2008 10:45 am

    The lengua looks and sounds delicious! We seek it out in Mexican restaurants here in Chicago. I’ve been into braising lately myself. But instead of using a pressure cooker, I’ve been doing slow oven braising. Most recently I made a Moroccan braised beef dish this way.

  • joy
    March 5, 2008 10:51 am

    Terry B — Thank you! I’ve never sought it at a Mexican restaurant, good idea. I prefer the pressure cooker these days for the reduced cooking time. Your braised beef looks excellent! I might have to try that out – thanks for the recipe!

  • March 5, 2008 12:00 pm

    I am glad for a little thing called personal choice. Maybe I am a bit behind with the whole evolving bit, but I have never seen my way clear to give offal a try. On this one I will just wish you guys ‘bon appetit’ and I will settle for some take-aways. Nice pics as usual. :-)

  • March 5, 2008 12:52 pm

    OMG this is torture. I. AM. HUNGRY.

  • March 5, 2008 2:39 pm

    beautiful presentation and photo! I wish I could taste it :) I’ve never prepared lengua because of the prep, but the more I see it being cooked I am getting really close to biting my tongue ;)

    JMom’s last blog post..Chard in Coconut Milk (Laing)

  • joy
    March 5, 2008 3:29 pm

    Arnold — Haha…thanks. If we all liked the same things, it wouldn’t be fun. :)

    AlohaPenny — I guess the post was a success! =D

    JMom — Thanks! I wish you could, too. I had this mostly to myself, and that was dangerous. lol.

  • March 5, 2008 6:26 pm

    we love lengua! i’ve loved it since i was a little girl. you’re going to think i’m crazy because i’ve recently given up pork and beef. hee hee. coming here, i realized what i’ll be missing. hahaha!

    may i just say that i love your site. i hope you don’t mind if i barge in every now and then. :D

    Munchkin Mommy’s last blog post..Things Taken are Returned?A Simple Demo

  • March 5, 2008 6:28 pm

    oops, i forgot to thank you for visiting my food blog! thank you! :)

    Munchkin Mommy’s last blog post..Things Taken are Returned?A Simple Demo

  • March 5, 2008 10:49 pm

    I can imagine how tender the beef tongue is already,
    Can I have a piece pleaseeeee!

    Cindy’s last blog post..Pelican Grill

  • joy
    March 5, 2008 11:47 pm

    Munchkin Mommy — I am a bad influence….haha. Have you given up veal, too? LOL. Thank you so much. You’re welcome to visit anytime! Thanks for dropping by. :)

    Cindy — You bet it was! I wish I can say come on over, but I ate them all. Heehee.

  • March 6, 2008 1:16 pm

    Hi again Joy. I’m afraid I don’t have my grandmother’s recipe, nor does anyone in the family. sorry about that!

    A.’s last blog post..Pause for thought

  • March 6, 2008 1:45 pm

    Something about “scrape the white surface. Make sure to remove all of it…” just cracks me up. :) :) :)

    It looks fantastic! Now all I need is a pressure cooker…

    K’s last blog post..Spinach and Watercress Salad with Pomelos and Roasted Beets & Pan-Fried Eggplant

  • joy
    March 6, 2008 3:34 pm

    A. — It’s alright. Thanks! :)

    K — Hahaha. It’s pretty gross, but I didn’t want to say that hoping someone will take the bait to make this (I kid!). You can cook it in a dutch oven or a big saucepan, but it will take longer to cook. If you are patient you can cook it without the pressure cooker. :)

  • Bill Hosey
    October 8, 2008 11:44 am

    WOW!…..The dish was fantastic! Thanks…was easy and so good. Made it for our “Regular” Wednesday night Dinner and Movies with our friends…did NOT tell them it was beef tongue…and it was a big tongue, but, just doubled the adds and was amazed…My Wife is Filippino…straight from the Island…has been here for a few months, and she said it was great…beef tongue is hard to get, as is any beef, unless you pay dearly for it…but, she knew the dish…and she loved it..as did ALL of the guests that ate it! Now, they also love Philippino cooking…Thanks…my next goal is Adobo…with my wifes help, am sure it will be the real thing. Have a great day, and Lord, try this recipe! :-)

  • joy
    November 29, 2008 9:20 pm

    Bill — Oh, I am so glad it turned out well for you! I can’t believe you didn’t tell the guests and they didn’t notice anything different. What did they think it was? :-) Adobo is great. I love it, and it’s so good after a few days.

  • Tiffany
    December 28, 2008 9:15 pm

    Looks real good. I wonder if we can tenderize the beef tongue in a slow cooker instead? And would anyone have a recipe for lengua with mushroom gravy?

    • bubbles
      January 21, 2011 8:46 am

      hi..i love lengua! But my mom usually makes it with white mushroom sauce! U can make the sauce from scratch or uou can just buy it straight from the can.i just recently made my own version lengua.the same preparation but i diced the lengua w/ my white mushroom sauce.arranged it in a pyrex,then topped w/ canned corn kernels and also topped with mashed potatoes and some grated mozzarella cheese on top.and baked it! It was so yummy! Very sinful but perfect!=)

      Here’s my white mushroom sauce from scratch:

      Canned mushroom
      Heavy cream
      Bouillon cube
      Salt and pepper to tatse

      Make a roux: melt butter and add flour.miss well until smooth.add mushroom,heavy cream,bouillon and water.mix well.until it thickens.salt and pepper to taste!


      • joy
        February 1, 2011 12:31 am

        Thanks, bubbles! This is how my brother makes his lengua, too, which I also love.

  • joy
    December 30, 2008 8:12 am

    Hi Tiffany, I think you can. I have never tried it, personally. I will ask my brother for his mushroom gravy recipe. He just made it a couple of weeks back.

  • January 4, 2009 2:38 am

    I love tongue…just wish it will cook faster than 1 to 2 hours! But your dish looks so much worth the wait..

    lalaines last blog post..Citrus-Glazed Scallops

    • joy
      January 4, 2009 11:12 am

      Lalaine, me too! I know, even with a pressure cooker, the whole process from preparing it to getting it on the table takes a long time. I only make it as a “treat” — definitely not a regular weekday fare. :)

  • carmen
    July 11, 2009 9:37 pm

    Here’s my mushroom sauce recipe.

    Simmer the tongue for an hour. Remove tongue and cool. Discard the water.

    Peel off the tough layer. Slice to desired thickness. Season lightly with Kosher salt. Return to pot.

    1 can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
    1 can water
    1 stick salted butter
    1 whole head garlic, crushed, peeled

    Stir the cream of mushroom and water. Simmer 45 min-1 hr. Check frequently to prevent scorching. Add a little water if sauce thickens and meat is not tender enough.

    When done, add a jar of drained, button mushrooms.

    Melt in your mouth goodness!

  • atiya
    October 10, 2009 12:32 pm

    i had never made a beef tongue before. I am mostly a vegetarian, not cuz i love to save the animals but cuz i hate to work with raw meat and i absolutely love the fresh colorful fruits and vegetables anyday over a chunk of meat. Have to say I hated the cleaning process of the beef tongue… the smell and the texture made me sick to my stomach!

    BUT…. The person whom I cooked this recipe for ABSOLUTELY LOVED it! that person is my husband…and i am ever so thankful to you for this wonderful recipe…it smelled great once it was cooked but after having cleaned it and seeing it what it looked like raw…i just could not get myself to taste it…

    this recipe is a hit in my home and my husband will ask me to prepare the beef tongue now when ever he wants to feed something special to his friends when they come to visit us… they all love it too.

    i rate it 5 star! thank you so much for posting this recipe.

  • ritmo64
    February 20, 2011 9:04 pm

    i’ve been cooking lengua for so many years…am using this recipe they call lengua legislativa…it’s tomato based but uses spanish chorizo, paprika, potatoes and carrots….well, friends of mine have tasted my dish and they say it’s really delicious….will try out this estofado recipe…..sounds simple but delicious too! : )

  • Masha
    September 12, 2011 10:50 pm


  • mike of CA
    September 8, 2012 4:35 pm

    Do you have to boil the whole tongue to make it tender or slice it up then boil?

    • joy
      September 18, 2012 11:03 am

      Boil the whole tongue for the first part. You need to remove the white part before slicing it up.

  • December 4, 2012 4:41 am

    Hello Joy,

    thanks for the info. I was thinking of using a pressure cooker instead of boiling the tongue for 4 hours. Great that you confirmed what I was thinking. Hope I could do this also… tomorrow. God bless!

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