Picante de Lengua

Picante de Lengua

David Loftus

Puno-style Ox Tongue Stew. When we first opened Andina many of my team told me ‘They will never like it’, ‘No-one eats tongue in London’, ‘It’s too traditional.’ Like a red rag to a bull, that set me on a mission. Four weeks later this humble and supposedly unloved dish was kissing most of our customers’ lips with gusto. And smiles followed.


Quantity Ingredient
1 ox tongue
2 tablespoons achiote oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g Picante de Huevos, panca chilli paste
50g Picante de Huevos, amarillo chilli paste
1.25 litre beef stock, plus extra for cooking, if necessary
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 quantity Pesque de Quinua, to serve
freshly ground black pepper

For the achiote oil

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon achiote or annatto seeds
100ml groundnut or vegetable oil


  1. First, make the achiote oil. Put the seeds and the oil in a small saucepan. Heat gently, swirling the contents of the saucepan regularly, for about 5 minutes until the oil has taken on a deep ochre colour from the seeds. Remove from the heat and strain the oil into a sterilized airtight jar. Allow the oil to cool in the jar, replace the lid and store in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
  2. To make the dish, put 1 tablespoon of salt in a large bowl of water and add the tongue. Leave to soak for 5–6 hours.
  3. When you are ready to cook, heat the 2 tablespoons of achiote oil in a large saucepan or casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté for 6–8 minutes until the onion is soft and everything is starting to brown slightly. Add the garlic and chilli pastes and cook, stirring, for a further 2–3 minutes until the garlic has softened slightly.
  4. Remove the tongue from its soaking water and rinse thoroughly, then add it to the pan with the onion mixture. Pour over the stock – it should just be enough to cover the tongue – and add the sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, then bring the liquid to the boil. As soon as the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2 1/2–3 hours until the tongue is very tender. Top up the liquid with more water or stock as it cooks, if necessary – you want the tongue submerged throughout.
  5. When the tongue is ready, remove it from the liquid using a slotted spoon. Leave the tongue to rest until it is cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin and cut or pull out the gristly part at the back. Cut the flesh into thick slices and return them to the stew. Cook for a further 5 minutes until the meat is warmed through, then serve immediately with the Pesque de Quinua on the side.
Martin Morales
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