Will you marrow me?

I just realized that within the past 3 weeks I had the pleasure of indulging in veal, beef and lamb bone marrow.  What a treat and how lucky am I?!  It’s truly one of my favorite things to nibble on with a nice glass of wine.

It started off 3 weeks ago when I was invited to my friend’s house to have some home cooked braised lamb shanks. Of course I wouldn’t turn down such an offer, so I went over with a bottle of Paso Robles Syrah simply excited for a lamb shank.  Well, holy cow!  Oops, I meant, holy lamb!  Kyle, you sure know how to please a woman (in this case, 3 women at once.  What a stud!)

Master chef Kyle in the kitchen

Master chef Kyle in the kitchen

These red wine braised lamb shanks were so tender, the meat fell right off the bones.  He accompanied them with garlic and rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes, oven roasted garlic bulbs, cipollini onions with a balsamic reduction glaze, sauteed greens, and a tangy parsley gremolata.

Braised lamb shank in the Le Creuset

Braised lamb shank in the Le Creuset

Delicious meal

Delicious meal

After I cleaned my plate and stripped the lamb shank down to the bare bone, Kyle sensed my next move and provided me with long thin crab picks.  Since lamb shank bones are very thin and long, this apparatus was perfect for scooping out all of the bone marrow.  I spread a clove of tender roasted garlic onto a toasted baguette, and placed the lamb bone marrow on top.  Voila, I was in heaven.  Lamb marrow is dark, with a dense and rich flavor.  It was also nicely flavored with the red wine braise and made for a wonderful treat.

Bone marrow and roasted garlic bruschetta

Bone marrow and roasted garlic bruschetta

A week and a half later I was in Cambria doing the same thing with a large piece of veal osso bucco.  This was at a restaurant called Madeline’s, which is a small and quaint restaurant inside of the Cambria Wine Shop.  Veal shank is obviously larger, so the dish came with a small spoon ready to scoop out the marrow.

Veal osso bucco

Veal osso bucco

I had my veal with another glass of local Paso Robles syrah.  What a coincidence…

And of course we savored the rich veal bone marrow on a piece of toast.

Veal marrow on toast

Veal marrow on toast

Sometimes bone marrow can have a bland taste if at all, so it’s best enjoyed from stews such as osso bucco because of the added flavors.  I remember making a lot of scraping noises at the table that night, making sure that I got every little last bit of marrow out with my small spoon.  Gosh, I can be an embarrassing date.

And finally, the king of all bone marrows, the beef marrow.  I went to Father’s Office in Culver City with some great friends a few days ago.

Father's Office

Father's Office

The night started off  with orders of pommes frites and beet salad, both absolutely delicious.  The red beets here were so sweet and juicy. After 2 wonderful bottles of Spanish red wines (I really liked the 2001 Ribera del Duero Fuentespina) and midway into a carafe, I started craving….marrow.  I could feel it in my….bones.

Beef bone marrow

Beef bone marrow

Oh gosh…this was really good.  This was simple straight forward beef bone marrow, roasted to perfection in the nude, so it looked gelatinous, bouncy and barely opaque.  The baguette was toasted just right, the marrow was rich and fatty but not too heavy, and the parsley and caper topping added that perfect amount of freshness, bitterness, acidity, and saltiness to complement it all.  I thought my friends would go ga-ga over this dish, but they weren’t as excited as I was.  Which worked to my advantage, because I got to eat most of it.

Another great place to have roasted beef marrow is Mozza.  They do it well too.

I love the fact that such a simple yet mind blowingly rich and delicious snack can be made from animals parts that would normally be thrown away.  Same goes for other organ meats.  They are so nutritious (okay, fatty too) and rich in flavor.  Most humans are only interested in the lean muscle meats, but the organs and innards are where the money’s at.  All other animals seem to know that.  When lions and tigers eat their prey, they primarily eat the innards, and don’t waste their time picking at the lean cuts.  I think I know what I was in a previous life…

http://www.fathersoffice.com/

http://www.mozza-la.com/

Random trivia:  Did you know that in 1983 the world’s first animal bone marrow transplant was done on Miki, a lilac-point Siamese cat, to correct a rare genetic disease called Mucopolysaccharidosis VI?

Ooyama Hanten 大山飯店- Tokyo, Japan

We all love Korean BBQ.  I’m truly blessed to be living in Los Angeles where I can go to Koreatown for real Korean BBQ anytime.  But I still salivate profusely over the thought of going to a Korean BBQ restaurant in Japan.  Why?  For the simple love of organ meats.

I love my kalbi, my sirloin, my filet mignon, my chateaubriand, and all the fine red meat cuts, but what I really love are organ meats- the parts that actually keep the animals alive, and the parts that often get tossed as waste.  Offals are incredibly fresh, well prepared and delicious at Korean BBQ restaurants in Japan.

On a recent visit back to my homeland, my friends took me out to Ooyama Hanten in Gotanda, Tokyo 五反田の大山飯店 for an evening of grilled organ meats.

We started off with a few wonderful cold appetizers:

Chanja

Chanja

Chanja, a staple Korean appetizer, is made of spicy marinated cod fish stomach.  It has a bit of a tough texture so it’s chopped up in small pieces, and absolutely great on warm white rice.

Senmai beef tripe

Senmai beef tripe

Nobody else seemed to appreciate the senmai beef tripe, one of my favorite delicacies.  The cow has 4 parts to its stomach, and technically tripe is the muscular lining of the beef stomach.  The third stomach, called ‘senmai’ in Japanese, means ‘1000 layers’ because of the appearance of the fine fringed villae that we see above.  Although prepared very fresh, it does has a slightly gamey aftertaste, though the consistency is soft, slightly chewy and tender like fresh mozzarella.  Sprinkled with lemon juice and dipped in a spicy red pepper miso paste, this was truly heaven in a bite.

In Japan, it’s somewhat of a tradition to start the BBQ portion of the meal with thinly sliced beef tongue as their first cut to grill.   Dipped in sesame oil with salt and pepper, these hearty and slightly chewy cuts are delectable.

Beef tongue

Beef tongue

Some more organ meats….

Beef liver sashimi

Beef liver sashimi

Raw beef liver, and only the finest, came with 3 dipping sauces: garlic soy sauce, ginger soy sauce, and a simple salted sesame oil.  I liked how the ginger balanced out the dense iron taste of the liver.  For liver though, I must say, this was light, easy on the palate, and did not leave much of an aftertaste.  It was slippery, cool, and quickly melted in my mouth.  I’m not usually a fan of beef liver (though I love foie gras, chicken liver, fish liver), but this was a delightful surprise dish for me.

After a quick palate cleanser of spicy marinated perilla leaves eaten with warm white rice:

Marinated perilla leaves

Marinated perilla leaves

Marinated perilla leaves with a bowl of warm white rice is a simple comfort food that hits the spot even when I don’t have much of an appetite.  These leaves can be purchased at almost any Korean supermarket in Koreatown.

Beef tripe

Beef tripe

The 4th stomach, in Japanese, is called ‘giara’ ギアラ.  It was derived from the word ‘guarantee’ ギャランテイー, for unclear reasons.  Guaranteed to please your palate?  Guarantees the cow to be able to digest its food?  Well, it guaranteed a good final dinner for me in Tokyo.  On the BBQ grill it started to shrink and become slightly firm and white, and the texture was slightly chewy though tender on the inside.  It was marinated with spicy soy sauce to counteract that gaminess.

We also had honeycomb tripe (second stomach) as a cold appetizer.  It was a popular dish and went fast.  Honeycomb tripe is what is commonly used in European dishes- like Italian trippa stew, Trippa a la Fiorentina, a wonderful Florentine dish of tripe stewed in a tomato sauce, that melts in your mouth like butter.

I wanted to continue ordering more cow innards, but since I was dining with 7 other friends who didn’t share my same enthusiasm, we finished off the evening with the standard red meat cuts, like kalbi (fatty juicy cuts of short rib with beautiful marbling and exquisite flavors.

Kalbi

Kalbi

 

Random trivia:  Did you know that the methane gas released by cows’ burping and farting is said to be one of the leading causes of holes in the ozone layer?