Monday, July 20, 2015

Scorpion Tongues!

     Brine Poached Duck Tongues en Pomegranate Scorpion Pepper GlacĂ© with Buckwheat Soba Noodles ... Scorpion Tongues!
     It is easy to get sidetracked when duck tongues are the subject matter.  When talking about duck tongues, it is nearly impossible to make it through the first sentence without hearing someone say, "You mean you really eat those things?"  Yes, I am a weird chef and I eat just about anything! 
     All kidding aside, duck tongues are considered to be a delicacy by gourmands worldwide.  Restaurants in Chinatown, Las Vegas, serve authentic food that is unlike standard Chinese American restaurant cuisine.  A high percentage of tourists from Asia dine in Chinatown, so authentic traditional Chinese food items are offered on the menu.  
     There are at least a half a dozen restaurant in Chinatown that offer duck tongues on the menu.  I published an article about the dining experience at the King Fu Chef restaurant a couple years ago.   The Kung Fu Chef restaurant has since gone out of business, but that restaurant was quickly becoming famous for its odd cuisine, which featured gourmet Asian style offal offerings.  During my visit, I ordered Brine Duck Tongues and I was quite impressed with how tasty those little tidbits were.  
     After trying duck tongues for the first time, I did a little bit of research on the topic.  Apparently duck tongues were once lauded as being a gourmet food item by European gourmands many decades ago.  Duck tongues pickled in sweet brine served with mustard and pickles, was a snack that the wealthy elite enjoyed.  
     In China, duck tongues are not limited to elite circles.  Duck tongues are pretty much eaten by anybody that likes duck tongues.  

     I do not know if scorpions have tongues and this certainly is another worthwhile topic to research.  The word "Scorpion" in today's recipe title refers to Scorpion Peppers.  Scorpion Peppers are the world's hottest chile peppers.  These peppers are about 10 times hotter than a habanero pepper and they are about 4 times hotter than a Ghost Pepper.  Care must be taken when preparing a Scorpion Pepper recipe for guests.  If too much Scorpion Peppers are added, the food will simply be too spicy hot to eat.
     The sauce for today's recipe is a glacĂ© that is semi sweet and full of flavor.  Chinese Five Spice Powder adds a complex flavor that is hard to resist.  Pickled ginger was added to the sauce and this flavor really tastes nice with duck tongues.  Pomegranate Molasses gives this sauce a tangy flavor.  The level of spicy Scorpion Pepper heat can be adjusted to suit personal taste.  A medium hot spicy heat level is best for this recipe.  
     Since Scorpion Peppers are rarely sold fresh at food markets, a bottled Scorpion Pepper sauce is the best choice.  Dave's Gourmet makes an unadulterated Scorpion Pepper Sauce that can be used as a cooking sauce.  One or two teaspoons in a sauce will send the spicy heat level to the uppermost limit!     

    Scorpion Lollypop Garnish
    I have eaten several scorpions in my lifetime and they taste pretty good when they are cooked.  Scorpion Lollypops are a popular candy here in Las Vegas.  In fact I just happened to have a one handy, so I took a picture and posted it in this article.      
     Scorpion Lollypops are worth recommending!  These lollypops are great conversation starters.  They are available in several flavors.  The crunchy scorpion in the center does taste pretty good!
     As far as garnishing food goes, serving a Scorpion Lollypop as a garnish with Scorpion Duck Tongues is not a bad idea.  The sweet candy will soothe the hot chile pepper scorched palate.  Those who relish the thought of eating exotic food, will savor the though of munching on the crunchy scorpion in the center of the lollypop!

     Marinated Duck Tongues:
     This recipe yields 2 portions!
     Step 1:  Place 12 ounces of duck tongues in a container. 
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Marinate for 12 hours in a refrigerator.  Toss the duck tongues in the pickling brine marinade occasionally.
     Step 3:  Drain the marinade off of the duck tongues.  Discard the marinade.
     Keep the prepared duck tongues chilled till they are needed.

     Scorpion Tongue Sauce:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 portions!
     Step 1:  Heat a stainless steel sauce pot over mediom high heat.  
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
     Step 2:  Boil till the water evaporates and the molten sugar starts to bubble.
     Cook the sugar till it becomes a light amber color.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Immediately add 1 tablespoon of Pomegranate Molasses.  (Available in Mediterranean Markets.)
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add 1 pinch of ground clove.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 2 tablespoon of finely chopped pickled ginger.  (sushi ginger)
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground Szechuan Pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Step 5:  Add 1 to 3 teaspoons of Scorpion Pepper Sauce. 
     *1 Teaspoon = Medium Spicy Hot ... 3 Teaspoons = Extra Super Spicy Hot!
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce. 
     Add 1 tablespoon of organic ketchup.  
     Add 1 to 3 drops of red food color, to give the sauce a red tint.
     Step 6:  Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin consistency that can glaze the back of a spoon.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.   

     Buckwheat Soba Noodles: 
     This recipe yields 1 small portion!
     Shocking noodles is a traditional Asian method for creating a chewy texture.  
     Step 1:  Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1/2 portion of Buckwheat Soba Noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally, till they are fully cooked.
     Step 2:  Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Place the noodles in a bowl of ice water.
     Stir the noodles by hand, till they feel like they have a firm chewy texture.
     Step 3:  Drain the ice water off of the noodles.
     Set the noodles aside.

     Brine Poached Duck Tongues:
     Care must be taken to not overcook duck tongues because they will skrink in size and the meat will become tough.  
     Step 1:  Place 3 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Black Salt.  (available in Indian markets)
     Step 2:  Bring the brine to a gentle boil.
     Add the reserved marinated duck tongues. 
     Return the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Turn off the heat.
     Let the duck tongues sit in the hot water for 1 to 2 minutes, till they are fully cooked.
     Step 4:  Drain the brine off of the duck tongues, just before serving.

     Scorpion Tongues:
     This recipe yields 1 serving!
     Step 1:  Reheat the 1/2 portion of prepared Buckwheat Soba Noodles in a pot of hot water.
     Drain the water off of the noodles.
     Mound the noodles on the center of a plate.
     Step 2:  Place the brine poached duck tongues in a mixing bowl.
     Add enough of the Scorpion Tongue Sauce to generously coat the duck tongues. 
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Mound the Scorpion Tongues on top of the noodles.
     Spoon a little bit of the sauce on the plate around the noodles.
     Garnish the plate with cilantro leaves.
     Serve with chopsticks and a Scorpion Lollypop garnish on the side.

     Be prepared for the sting of the scorpion!    

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