It's been awhile since I talked about cooking at home...
Actually, I was happy to find a source of beef tendon here in south Florida. It was frozen in a Vietnamese market... same way I bought it in New Orleans.
The last time I cooked it, it took hours in a crock pot. I wanted to do it faster, and I thought of the pressure cooker (my stovetop model at home). I also thought about cutting it up ahead of time... cutting the cooking time tremendously. Actually, it was shortned too tremendously. I ended up with a pot full of overcooked sliced beef tendon. This was all cool but in retrospect, but next time I would leave bigger pieces to get cleaner cuts after cooking and to maintain a little of the structure.
But that's not the point. It got me thinking of something that had popped into my head the other day. Why don't we use collagen (or tendon stock) for thickening sauces and getting cool textures in the kitchen. Now I know that gelatin is mainly collagen, but it seems like more of a puristic practice to extract it directly from connective tissue instead of from bones... which give you more of a gelatinized stock in the classic way. It would certainly lend great flavor and umami to sauces on a more subtler level. Unless I am wrong, tendon is made up of mainly collagen (which is a source of gelatin along with bones and hooves). Anyway, I now have a bowl of thick syrupy (at room temp... in south Florida) beef collagen that tastes and feels a bit starchier than processed gelatin. So now for a demi-thick sauce that is not as overpowering as demi-glace, why not include a significant amount of tendon in with the bones to get the viscosity? Tendon has a great flavor also, quite different from the meat of beef. Have you ever eaten those Vietnamese meatballs that have tendon in them? They have great flavor and you could almost bounce them off the floor like Steven Chow in 'God of Cookery.' Anyway, what else am I going to do now with a big bowl of tendon gelatin?
And speaking of umami, we utilized left-overs and things in the pantry for dinner.
Aside from rice and some tempura chrysanthemum, I made truffled butter lobster with baby corn, chive blossom, and maitake and Ming made some pidan (century egg) cooked with kimchee, tofu, and katsuo flake. This led me to another discovery that should have been obvious... century egg and truffle go incredibly great together. It's like funk on funk... like Bootsy Collins and George Porter Jr. on the same bass line. I will definitely utilize this cross-cultural combination in the future.