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Feb 20, 2007 11:12 AM

Chewy or not chewy - that is the question

Brownies, noodles, steak, seafood.

Soft or tender seems to win over chewy (considered tough), even if it means hours of simmering, say, abalone, to get that stubborn chewiness out.

Then there are foods which are noted for their chewiness - rice cakes, meat jerky, taffy, snacks accompanying Asian salarymen's strong drinks, and yes, abalone.

They are more than tolerated - they are celebrated by some people. Do you hate or like chewy? Can you think of specific examples?

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  1. I love chewy things in general.

    Lots of Chinese ingredients are prized for their texture (usually chewy) over actual flavor. Shark's fin, sparrow's nest, frog fat, mochi balls, and glutinous rice come to mind immediately. Taiwanese food, especially utilizes a LOT of tapioca or sweet potato starch, which renders everything chewy. The Taiwanese even have a word for that bouncy, chewy, texture. It sounds like when we say the letter Q in English.

    1. Brownies, chewy, neither cakey nor fudgy. Steak, depends on the cut - hanger or skirt steak chewy (but not tough!), rib or loin more tender. Squid definitely tender, not chewy, which means either very fast cooking or very long & slow..

      1. Baked goods I definitely like chewy.

        For meat, if it's moist and flavorful, then it can be chewy or tender. For instance, corned beef is good chewy. Well done bottom round is bad chewy. Some of the bland white fish sashimi is bad tender, but braised pork belly is good tender.

        I tend to like a chewiness that "accomplishes something", as in, the chewing enables the release of flavor and gradually breaks down the food. I'm not a fan of the rubbery chewiness that's common in certain types of connective tissues and seafood like cartilage, tripe or squid.