WAIT!! Don’t turn away just yet. If the idea of duck tongues is too much for you, know that you can make this exact recipe with shrimp instead and it’s equally tasty; in fact, this recipe is based on Salt and Pepper Shrimp (椒盐虾), a common Chinese dish that’s one of our favorites. I’ll probably do up the shrimp version of the recipe in the future.
Okay, now that I’ve coaxed you into staying, let’s talk about duck tongues. They’re very different from what you may be expecting from tongue – usually considered dense, muscled, and tough – and are instead tender and succulent. They carry an inherent richness which reminds me of escargot. They have a tender bone in the center of the tongue, that’s mostly cartilage; many people come to relish the slight crunch of eating the whole tongue, bone and all. They’re also very affordable considering their status as a delicacy: US Wellness Meats offers a pack of 50-60 tongues (which I used in making this recipe) for well under $10.
1/2 lb duck tongues
1/2 tbsp each tamari or coconut aminos
1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 egg white
2 bird’s eye chiles (or similar fresh chiles), deseeded and sliced (more to taste)
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1/2 tsp each salt and white pepper
20 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coconut oil, lard, or duck fat
Rinse and pat dry your tongues with some paper towels.
Combine the tamari, wine, honey, and fish sauce, then mix with the tongues. Put everything in a ziploc bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes, but up to an hour.
Prep the remaining ingredients as the tongues marinate. Combine the starch, salt and pepper.
Once the tongues have marinated, drain them of any extra liquid and pat dry with paper towels again (do not rinse them).
In a large mixing boil, add the egg whites and whip with a whisk until bubbly and slightly frothy, about 2 minutes.
Add the tongues and mix them with the egg whites, and then pour off any remaining liquid. You want the tongues to be coated but not swimming. Add the starch/salt/pepper, and again mix with your hands until evenly coated.
Heat up the oil in a wok on high heat until shimmering, about 1 minutes, then toss in some of the garlic, maybe about 1/10 of the total amount. Once it starts sizzling, add the tongues and stir fry, tossing almost constantly, until well browned and crispy, 3-4 minutes.
When they’re nice and crispy, remove the tongues and garlic with a slotted spoon and set on some paper towels to drain.
Add the rest of the garlic to the wok, reduce the heat to med/high, and stir fry until golden brown and crispy, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the chiles during the last minute of cooking. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Arrange the duck tongues in a serving dish and pour the garlic and chiles on top, then sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.