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Feb 18, 2006 01:48 PM

How do you eat ducks tongues?

  • r

I know exotic foods get discussed to death on Chowhound, but while looking for info about how ducks tongues taste, I came across great article about exotic eats by John Hodgman, who has a Steinbeck-esque quality to his writing about food.

Talking about eating snails in a New York Nigerian restaurant, where he is given the baby version instead of the larger snail he writes

"The snail, some four inches of meaty mollusk, is leathery and unctuous at the same time, tasting sour and strong … I feel that strange mixture of failure and relief when one is patronized to, when one doesn’t get the fist-size snail."

Anyway, about ducks tongues he says that they are surprisingly large, about thumb-sized, with “luxuriously dense meat” and a cartilage in the center.

So, how do you eat them? Do you pop the whole thing in your mouth, chew it up and remove it like an olive pit ... with your fingers? ... with the chopstick? … and place it like a chicken bone on the plate?

If you’ve tried a duck tongue, what does it taste like? Hodgman says he could eat them all day. A SF poster’s Chinese mother says she doesn’t much care for them. What is the appeal if any? What is the best type of dish to try them out?

Very interesting, funny article with vivid descriptions (and even pictures) of some of the more exotic dishes he has eaten from chicken feet “they stimulate and condense every memory I have of good chicken soup” to comments about Mario Batali (“the beclogged one has surely fed more tripe to tourists than any C-list producer on Broadway”)

For some of the items I have tried, like calf’s foot soup he just so nails how it tastes … “strange, gooey, fatty tackiness of pigs’ feet … make you feel hungry again even after visiting a slaughterhouse.”

There are items I have never heard of before like vastedde (calf’s-spleen sandwiches), cockscombs (with picture and a great description beneath it. I would know what to expect and later the culinary benefits), Cuy, a sort of Ecuadorian guinea-pig (picture included, ya gotta read the description of these), and fat, sweet wax worms.

Though I heard of and seen durian, his description of durian cream pie is wonderful.

And for those of you who live in the NYC area, he has the names and addresses of restaurants where you can try these dishes, like the Lamb’s Tongue, Almond Butter, and Red-Currant Jelly Sandwich.

Talking about duck blood tacos, Hodgman says “even though it was delicious and fragrant with cilantro, at the end of the day it only tasted like cowardice. And cowardice, of course, tastes like chicken.”

Now about those ducks tongues … any comments? I have to start somewhere.


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  1. I've had'em only at dim sum places in LA County, and I have been unimpressed. I wanted to like them, but the ones I've had have been devoid of much flavor, and the central part has been more like bone than cartilage; perhaps they have simply been undercooked. They have also all been quite small. As for Mr. Hodgman's saying he could "eat them all day", the two or three times I've tried them I sorta felt that's what I was doing. Very tedious, trying to scrape a tiny layer of tasteless meat off a sharp spine, and not IMO worth the effort.

    Chicken feet, OTOH, are sublime at these places, provided one gets the hot (dark) braised ones rather than the cold (white) boiled ones. Supremely chickeny.

    1. I braised one last week, along with the duck's head. It was gelatinous, slimy, sort of briny tasting as it melted on my tongue, whitish color. I removed the bone thingy in the middle before eating it, actually once braised, his head just sort of snapped apart into pieces with a gentle tug. I think I preferred his brain and cheek meat to the tongue, but wouldn't mind trying the tongue again prepared in fat (confit) or aspic.

      1. I eat the whole thing, cartilage included.

        1. I eat them on quackers.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jef

            LOL Those would be some silent quackers at that point.


          2. I had duck tongues served in a rich brown sauce (much like the Shanghainese red-cooked sauce) and I loved 'em. Most of the flavor came from the sauce. I believe that Chinese like things with interesting texture (sea cucumber, for instance, or dofu) and things that take a lot of effort to eat, and thus prolong the meal. Duck tongues have both in abundance. I was also secretly thrilled (and guilty) that fifty ducks had to die so I could have my meal. Like those ancient Romans eating lark's tongues. But I think that the rest of the ducks was put to good use.