In the “from head to tail” series, we work with forgotten cuts of meat. In this article, we continue with beef tongue, a piece of meat that is becoming less familiar in the Netherlands, even though it used to be quite common. We’ve already made taco de lengua with it, but because it was a large tongue, we could also create another dish. In this case, it’s the Japanese dish Gyūtan.

Gyūtan is a Japanese dish made from grilled beef tongue. The word “gyūtan” is a combination of the Japanese word for cow (“gyū”) and the English word for tongue. Since “gyūtan” literally means “cow tongue,” it’s also used to refer to beef tongues in Japan.

Now, you can prepare this dish in many ways, and in upscale Japanese restaurants, you’ll definitely find their own unique interpretations. Sometimes it’s deep-fried, sometimes it’s pan-fried. In my case, it’s grilled and smoked on the BBQ.


  • 1/2 beef tongue

  • 2 x 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 x 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 x 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons Ketjap Manis (a sweet Indonesian soy sauce)

  • 2 spring onions (thinly sliced)


  • Prepare the beef tongue by placing it in a large pot of water and bringing it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cover the pot and let it simmer gently for 3 hours. Alternatively, you can cook the beef tongue in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours. After the cooking time, remove the outer layer of the tongue to reveal the meat.
  • Slice the tongue into thin slices, approximately half a centimeter thick, and place them in a bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Stir well. Pour this mixture over the beef tongue slices and let it marinate for at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat your BBQ for indirect grilling at 150°C.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of Ketjap Manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce). Set this mixture aside.
  • Place the beef tongue slices on the BBQ and let them cook. Tip: Add some wood chips to create a smoky flavor. Flip the slices every 5 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, brush the slices on the top side with the sauce mixture and let them cook a bit longer before flipping them and repeating the process. Repeat this a few times.
  • Enjoy your Gyūtan-style beef tongue!