Regarding Meals with Beef Tendons

Regarding Meals with Beef Tendons
Eben van Tonder
19 September 2021


Tendons have been an important dish around the world, including in the west. In the Okmulgee Daily Times (Okmulgee, Oklahoma), 20 May 1936, a report appeared on the Times Cooking school. It says that “several complete dinners were cooked by Miss Hogue, “beef tendons being the foundation for one.” Its western tradition has largely been lost. It is, however in the scientifically advanced Eastern societies where the traditions of enjoying beef tendons as part of regular meals endure.

In recent years the Western world rediscovered the health benefits of collagen, something which the mom’s in the East have known for years and still insist their families regularly enjoy. In the west, we have a situation now where collagen powder is being imported at an exorbitant cost from European collagen manufacturers to access its health benefits. A far less costly and more enjoyable way to get your daily dose of collagen is simply to look towards deliciously prepared beef tendons. It is available locally at a fraction of the cost of the imported material. A key feature of our work is to make this available in a convenient format both for consumer products and for factories who want to include it in its food formulations.

My work on tendons started in April 2020 when South Africa had its first hard lockdown. It is one of the most versatile products in the beef carcass. There are some who want to do it the old fashioned way and include tendons in their meal plans for the week, I asked the question what recipes with tendons in would look like. Here I explore this question.

Cooking with Tendons

Audrey Wilson did a magnificent treatment of exactly this issue in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (Hilo, Hawaii), 25 Aug 2020 in a segment entitled “Cooking with Tendons”. She gives us insight into how it is being enjoyed in the east.

– Beef Tendon Soup (Vietnamese Pho Stock)

1 lb beef tendons

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Blanch tendons for 2 -3 minutes. Drain and rinse off the scummy residue from the pot. Rinse tendons. Using a sharp knife, slice each tendon into pieces in the cleaned pot and use enough water to cover the tendons by 1 inch. Bring to boil. Immediately reduce heat so water is at gentle simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 7 hours. The pots lid should be tight-fitting so the water does not evaporate. Remove tendon pieces from broth and serve for soup.

Three cups of this stock for 5 quarts of soup is enough for a great soup. Keep rest in the refrigerator. It will gel.

– Beef Tendon Gumtang Collagen Soup

1 pound beef tendons, cubed
1 pound beef shank meat, cubed
8 stalks green onion, white and green parts seperated
1/2 large daikon radish, sliced
2 whole cloves garlic
1/2 cup sake
4-1/2 cup dashi stock
3 tablespoons sesame seed, plus more for garnishing
Sea salt
2 cups cooked tteok
(Korean rice cake)

In a soup pot boil beef tendons and beef shank meat in plain water for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, removing scum. Place tendons back in pot.

Pour half of the dashi stock, 3 cups water and all of the sake, add the white section of the green onions, garlic and some sea salt. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for one more hour on low heat.

Season with sea salt, if needed, add the cooked Korean rice cakes garnish with green parts of green onions and toasted sesame seed. Serve.

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This dish is often served as a dish selection in a dim sim restaurant:

Beef Tendons in Soy Sause, Vinegar and Chili Oil

1 pound beef tendons
1/4 cup soy sause
1/3 cup more soy sause for dressing, or to taste
3 tablespoons Chinkiang rice vinegar
3 tablespoon sugar, or to taste 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Finely chopped cilantro
Finely chopped green onions
Rinse beef tendons under cold water and place into a bowl in a steamer insert.

Add 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/2 cup water to partially covered tendons. Bring water to boil, then reduce to steady simmer and cook for 4 hours. Add additional water as needed to ensure the bottom of the pot does not dry out.

You can also cook the tendons in a pressure cooker for two hours.

Remove tendons, set aside in the simmering liquid for another use. Let cool to room temperature, refrigerate. Thinly slice tendons into 1/8 inch slices. (Can keep in refrigerator for up to one week).

* * *

Japanese Beef tendon stew is called gyusuji nikomi. Gyusuji is the Japanese word for tendon. This recipe uses an Instant Pot to prepare the dish.

Japanese Beef Tendon Stew or Gyusuji Nikomi

1 pound beef tendons, rinsed well
3 green onions
1 knob ginger
3-inch daikon radish 
1/2 gobo (burdock root)
6 ounces knonnyaku (konjac)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups dashi stock
4 tablespoon soy sause
3 tablespoons saki
3 tablespoons sugar

Add tendons and 4 cups water into Instant Pot. Press “saute” button and and change setting to “More” by pressing “Adjust” button. Once boiling press “Keep Warm/ Cancel” button to step cooking. Remove pot, discard water, add 4 cups water.

Peel ginger skin, cut into thin slices. Cut green onions in half receiving white bottom parts. Add ginger and green part of green onions to pot. Cover, press “manual” button, set HIGH pressure for 30 minutes.

Cut konnyaku into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and rub with your hands.

Boil konnyaku in water for 5 minutes. Peel and cut daikon into 1/2-inch quarters. Remove gobo skin with back of knife, place in cold water.

When Instant Pot is is at “Keep warm” setting, release pressure naturally, about 20 minutes.

Open lid and take out inner pot. Drain cooking liquid and rinse tendons under cold water. Cut into small pieces. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Rinse inner pot and add 2 cups dashi, 3 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons saki in pot. Put clean tendons and mix together with sauce.

Cover and lock the lid. Press “Manual” button set to HIGH pressure for 10 minutes.

When Instant Pot is at “Keep Warm,” let pressure release naturally for 20 minutes. Add konyaku, diako, and gobo.

Cover and lock lid.

Set to HIGH pressure for 10 minutes.

After cooking, let pressure release. Chop reserved green onions into thin rounds. Serve tendons stew in a bowl and garnish with green onions.


Understanding how beef tendons are used in dishes around the world informs us about applications of my collagen paste.


Hawaii Tribune-Herald (Hilo, Hawaii), 25 Aug 2020

Okmulgee Daily Times (Okmulgee, Oklahoma), 20 May 1936