My First Encounter with Achilles Tendon
Finns vs. Beef Tendon
When you are abroad, you may miss Japanese food especially. One day I suddenly had a craving for beef tendon and asked Juhani where I could find it. But he said they don’t sell that part in Finland.
However, the meat chunks used for Karijalanpaisti, a Finnish stew, often contain beef tendon. And if you look carefully, you can find packs of beef sold as stew beef that contain a lot of tendon. In other words, I guess there is no culture that separates beef tendon from other parts to enjoy them in a special way.
But, I still want to eat beef tendon.
Encounter with Achilles Tendon
While I was searching the Asian market for beef tendon, I found, to my surprise, a cow’s Achilles tendon.
When you think of beef tendon, Japanese think of red meat with tendons, but the Achilles tendon is just what it sounds like: an Achilles tendon. There was hardly any meat on it, and the thick, firm tendon was frozen in a bag tightly packed. Since I had found the Achilles tendon, and Achilles tendons are part of the tendon, I decided to buy it.
When I showed it to Juhani, he got very excited about the unknown ingredient.
Boiling the Achilles Tendon
The Achilles tendons came all the way from Asia to Finland, and since each 2kg package was frozen solid, I had to use a hammer and a knife to split them. In hindsight, it would have been easier to split the tendon after it was half thawed, but we were so excited to have our first Achilles tendon.
The next morning, the Achilles tendon was completely defrosted. This is the first time I’ve ever touched an Achilles tendon, and it’s just so hard. It was so hard that I judged that I couldn’t cut it before boiling it. I decided to think about it after softening it in the pressure cooker. As for the heating time, beef tendon is usually cooked for 20-30 minutes, so I decided to double that and try 60 minutes.What we need to be careful of here is the amount of water. If you cook for a long time in a pressure cooker, all the water may evaporate and the cooker may burn out. How much water evaporates per hour depends, of course, on various conditions such as the strength of the fire, the pressure, and the type of pot. I used the t-fal website as a reference and cooked with the assumption that “200 mL evaporates when cooked for 10 minutes on medium heat”.
After an hour, when I opened the lid, the Achilles tendon had become quite tender, and the cooking liquid was quite slimy due to the collagen dissolved from the Achilles tendon. Using a cutting board seemed quite dirty, so I lifted it with tongs and cut it with scissors.
I found that cooking it for an hour was enough to soften it. When I cooked the remaining 1kg in the pressure cooker for 30 minutes later, it was still quite hard, although I could cut it with scissors. Considering the ease of flavor penetration, etc., it would probably need to be cooked for 50 minutes or more.
After boiling, I found out that Achilles tendon can be divided into three main parts.
・The main part of the Achilles tendon: the thick tendon. It turns light brown when boiled. It is quite elastic.
・The membrane around the Achilles tendon: A thin membrane. it turns whitish when boiled. So soft and running.
・Meat around Achilles tendon: Red meat. It turns black when boiled. Same as the normal meat.
Eating the Achilles tendon
Simmered with soy sauce and sugar
First, as with the beef tendon, I added onion and cooked it with soy sauce and sugar. After cooking in the pressure cooker for 60 minutes, the tendon is already soft enough to soak up the flavor easily.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had the beef tendon, and it was so nice. There is a lot of collagen in it, so it hardens quickly when it cools down, but it is also delicious in a jelly style. However, they need more red meat to give you the feeling of beef tendon. I plan to come up with recipes that add meat in the future.
Achilles tendon is delicious
Beef tendon can be found in Finland if you look for it.However, it is not sold as beef tendon, but is included in other meats, so you have to find the beef tendon among many packs of meat. It’s like a treasure hunt. Considering such a situation, this Achilles tendon is quite excellent, don’t you think? I think so.
By the way, after I started working on this article, I found beef tendon at another store, but I’ll get to that later.