Let’s Talk Food: Beef tendons

My friend Amy asked me to write about tendons as her friend said she eats it because growing up in Waipio Valley, her mother fed her that so she would have no problem walking up and down the steep road.

Beef tendon is an ingredient in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Taiwanese, Filipino and Vietnamese cooking. It is a tough, fibrous muscle which softens after a long period of cooking. It contains a lot of collagen and has the mouth-feel of high-fat cuts of beef even if it has a low-fat content. A 100 gram serving of tendon contains 36.7 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates and 150 calories. The collagen is good for the skin, hair, nails and joint health, and is a youth potion and perhaps the secret as to why Asians look younger.


We most commonly eat tendon in Vietnamese pho soup and are probably not aware of it. Making pho stock with tendons is simple but takes 7 hours of simmering.

Beef Tendons for Soup

1 pound 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 gently simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 7 hours. The pot’s lid should be tight-fitting so the water does not evaporate. Remove tendon pieces from broth and reserve for soup.

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

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A Korean soup with tendon and beef is served with Korean rice cakes.

Beef Tendon Gumtang Collagen Soup

1 pound beef tendons, cubed

1 pounds beef shank meat, cubed

8 stalks green onions, white and green parts separated

1/2 large daikon radish, sliced

2 whole cloves garlic

1/2 cup sake

4-1/2 cups dashi stock

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, 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 sections of the green onions, garlic and some sea salt. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours in very low heat.

Add back the beef shanks, radish, toasted sesame seeds and remaining dashi stock and continue to 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 seeds. Serve.

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

Beef Tendon in Soy Sauce, Vinegar and Chili Oil

1 pound beef tendon

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup more soy sauce for dressing, or to taste

3 tablespoons Chinkiang rice vinegar

3 tablespoons 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 cover 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).

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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 konnyaku (konjac)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


2 cups dashi stock

4 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons sake

3 tablespoons sugar

Add tendon and 4 cups water into Instant Pot. Press “saute” button and change setting to “More” by pressing “Adjust” button. Once boiling, press “Keep Warm/Cancel” button to stop 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. Diagonally cut gobo into 1/8-inch slices. Soak in water.

When Instant Pot 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 sake in pot. Put cleaned tendons and mix together with the 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 konnyaku, diako, and gobo.

Cover and lock lid. Set to HIGH pressure for 10 minutes.

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


Tendons are available frozen at Sack N Save and according to meat buyer, Jeff Ikeda, KTA has not been carrying tendons, but he would bring it in by request.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.