Dragon Tongues Taste Better Than Cod Tongues
No, this isn’t a continuation of my ‘extreme cuisine’ post. Rather, I want to introduce you to dragon tongue beans (and, I’ll get to the cod tongue matter a little later).
Have you seen these mystical-looking beans when grocery shopping? If you see them again, be sure to pick some up! (Provided, of course, that they are fresh and crisp.) Dragon tongue beans are one of my favorite vegetables. And, I’m not sure what I love more – their flavor or their striking color. Proof that mother nature is the ultimate artist, and it’s as if she’s painted these beans one-by-one to look at but not to eat. But eat you must! Because these beans have a delightful, slightly sweet flavor and a texture that is more tender than that of green or yellow beans, and also less fibrous. Interestingly, the characteristic dark purple streaks of dragon tongue beans fade and wash out with cooking. As sad as it is to lose that vibrant color, brief cooking draws out the sweetness in the beans.
You can prepare these beans as you would green or yellow beans. They can be sauteed, blanched, grilled, or added to soups, casseroles, or stir-fries. My “sure-fire-kids-and-adults-alike-will-eat-and-love” treatment of these beans is to briefly broil them. That’s broil, not boil, and the method couldn’t be simpler:
1. Wash and dry beans.
2. Trim off ends.
3. Place on a small baking tray (lined with parchment if you like).
4. Add a splash of olive oil and toss through beans (1-3 teaspoons, depending on how many beans you are cooking; use enough to coat beans). Coconut oil can be used instead of olive oil if you prefer. Melt coconut oil first to toss through, or, toss it through after the first 30 seconds or so of cooking (once it’s melted).
5. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
6. Place under your oven broiler for 5-7 minutes or longer, until the beans are just starting to sear.
7. Remove from oven, and transfer beans immediately to a plate or another tray (to prevent further cooking on the hot tray).
8. Add a squeeze of lemon juice (optional).
Obviously, this broiling method can also be used for green, yellow, or purple beans (which, by the way, turn a dark greenish color with cooking and resemble green beans)! But, since dragon tongue beans are as visually appealing as they are delicious, they are definitely worth trying.
So, what’s this have to do with cod tongues? I was born and raised in Newfoundland, and the cod fishery is part of the province’s economic and cultural heritage. The tongues of cod were not discarded, instead they became a dining ‘delicacy’, battered and pan-fried in diced salt pork (the fat was used to cook the tongues and the diced pork cooked into ’scrunchions’). Cod tongues are still available in restaurants throughout Newfoundland, and while they are a culinary delight for some, they were never something I enjoyed. There’s a fatty layer surrounding the meat of the tongues (particularly large ones) that was unappealing to me. So, I don’t think I’ll ever ‘veganize’ cod tongues… yep, I’ll stick to cooking with dragon tongues.