140 Braised Tongue (Semur lidah)

Calf tongueOMG, there I go: I’m going to make braised calf (veal) tongue today. Because I make all 578 dishes of Beb Vuyk on this blog, I have to make number 140 too. As a friend recently said, “you have to love it, to like it.” I think tongue thinly sliced ​​on a lice of bread is quit okay. Now try this Dutch – Indonesian version. I buy a calf tongue for 9,50 euros.

Do you dare to see how to prepare it? Check this out! 😉

Prep time: 3,5 hours, at least. Good for 4 people.

Braised Tongue (Semur lidah) from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 146.


1 beef tongue or 3 or 4 veal or lamb tongues
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 liter of water


5 tablespoons of chopped onions
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 teaspoons sambal oelek (Indonesian chili sauce)
2 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons of finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce

Boil the tongue or tongues with water and salt until the skin easily comes off. Cut the meat into slices and fry gently in the butter. Add spices (which are not rubbed in the mortar), 2 deciliters of the broth it just cooked in and sliced tomatoes. Let it simmer for a while longer.

Before serving add the soy sauce and celery. Soup can be made from the leftover broth.


Raw beef tongueBeb’s recipe leaves much to the home cook imagination. That’s why I think this recipe is quit difficult. I have to cook the tongue until the skin can be easily removed. After 15 minutes simmering, the skin doesn’t budge much. It needs much longer.

I looked up other recipes with veal tongue and the overall lesson was not too cook the veal tongue too long but that doesn’t work with this dish. After 30 minutes of simmering, I turned off the gas and let it cool down for 5 quarters of an hour with the lit on. The skin came off, sort of…

It’s quit a job to clean the beef tongue. The rest of the ingredients for this semur lidah are simple though. Some sambal oelek (Indonesian chili paste, any other will do fine as well), celery, soy sauce, onions and garlic. That’s it.

Peel of skin
But back to the veal meat. I manage to peel most of the skin of by hand. But that does not work on every part of the tongue. I use my razor sharp cooking knife to cut off all the leftover skin and ugly parts.

Skin off calf tongue
Now finally I can cut the tongue in to 2 centimeter thick pieces. I wonder how that tongue looks like inside. The pieces vary in structure and toughness as you move up to the tip of the tongue.

Kalfstong schoonmakenThe meat is not fully cooked yet. That’s probably fine because I have to gently fry and braise them in butter still.  Every slice is cleaned; the tongue can hit the pan.
Fry calf tongue in butterAccording to the recipe I need to gently fry the veal. I heat up the 4 tablespoons of butter, but not to hot. I fry them gently in the simmering butter like small pork chops.
Calf tongue in a braise with tomatoes
After 10  minutes I turn them and and add the tomatoes, onions and garlic. I let this simmer for another 30 minutes on low heat.

The meat smells differently than I’m used to with veal. The smells reminds me more of oxtail soup.
Calf tongue
At the end top this dish off with sweet soy sauce. I use the tastiest I know. The sweet soy sauce ABC. It’s just like sweet syrup. It’s such a nice soy sauce that you can use it as a dipping sauce for krupuk (prawn crackers) as well.

And than finally: how does it taste? Well, I‘m not a fan of tongue, but I must say in this braised Dutch-Indonesian version it’s pretty good. The kecap brings out the sweetness in the meat and the tomatoes add to the tenderness. The meat is quit tender. Nice. The texture of the meat stays a bit strange to my taste. Just not my kind of ‘flesh’, I presume. I serve it with white rice, a fresh cucumber salad or a homemade atjar is delicious with it too.

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