Does Beef Tendon Have Hair? A Complete Guide to Cleaning and Cooking This Unique Ingredient

Beef tendon is growing in popularity worldwide as a nutritious and flavorful ingredient. However, those new to cooking with tendon often wonder – does beef tendon have hair? The short answer is yes, beef tendon does contain small hairs that need to be removed prior to cooking.

In this comprehensive guide we’ll cover everything you need to know about properly preparing beef tendon from inspecting for hairs to the best cooking methods. We’ll also explore the nutritional benefits that make this cut of meat worth embracing. Let’s dive in!

An Overview of Beef Tendon

Beef tendon is the thick fibrous tissue that connects a cow’s muscles to its bones. It has a super chewy texture and mild beefy flavor when cooked properly.

In its raw form beef tendon is composed of about 85% collagen, 2% elastin, and 1-5% proteoglycan. This makes it an excellent source of collagen which provides many health benefits that we’ll explore later.

Tendon needs extended cooking times to break down the tough collagen fibers. When simmered or braised for hours, it becomes meltingly tender with a soft, gelatinous texture.

In Asian cuisines beef tendon is often used in soups stews, and braised noodle dishes. It’s also sometimes grilled or added to broths. When sliced thinly after cooking, the tender tendon has a pleasant mouthfeel similar to noodles.

Do Beef Tendons Contain Hair?

Yes, raw beef tendons do contain small hairs that should be removed before cooking. These short black hairs are naturally present and can sometimes be seen poking out from the skin. Other hairs may be embedded more deeply into the tendon tissue.

It’s crucial to remove any hairs on the raw tendon to ensure food safety. Consuming beef tendon with the hairs still attached poses a choking hazard. The hair could also potentially transmit bacteria and illnesses.

Thoroughly cleaning and preparing the tendon is an essential first step whether you plan to braise, grill, or add it to soups or broths.

Why Properly Cleaning Tendon Matters

Cleaning beef tendon before cooking serves several important purposes:

  • Food safety – Removes contaminants like hair that could cause illness if consumed
  • Hygiene – Prevents an unpleasant mouthfeel while eating
  • Flavor – Allows the natural taste of the tendon to shine without funky odors
  • Texture – Results in smooth, tender pieces of tendon without weird bits

Proper cleaning removes both visible and hidden impurities from the tendon’s surface. This provides the best experience when you go to cook and eat this nutritious ingredient.

Step-By-Step Guide to Cleaning Beef Tendon

Cleaning beef tendon is thankfully quite straightforward. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Remove tendon from packaging and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.

  2. Inspect for hairs. Turn the tendon over and look closely for any visible hairs poking out. Also check beneath flaps of skin for embedded hairs.

  3. Sprinkle and rub tendon all over with salt, using about 2 tsp per pound of tendon. The salt will help draw out impurities.

  4. Soak tendon in cold water mixed with distilled white vinegar for at least 10 minutes. A ratio of 2 cups vinegar per 4 cups water works well.

  5. Drain and rinse tendon under cold running water. Rub vigorously to remove any lingering salt and vinegar.

  6. Use tweezers to pluck out visible hairs. Pull gently for hairs protruding from the surface. Remove embedded hairs by pinching firmly with the tweezers to extract them.

  7. Rinse tendon again and pat dry with paper towels. At this point, the tendon is cleaned and ready to cook.

Repeat steps as needed until no more hairs can be seen or removed from the tendon. It’s now safe to use in any recipe!

Cooking Methods for Beef Tendon

Once cleaned, beef tendon requires extended cooking times to break down the tough collagen into soft, gelatinous goodness. Methods like braising, simmering in broth, or slow cooking work best.

Here are some top cooking techniques:

  • Braise in flavorful liquid like broth, wine, or soy sauce for 2-3 hours until fork tender.

  • Simmer in water, broth, or soup for 1-2 hours until soft. Add aromatics for flavor.

  • Slow cook with veggies and seasonings on low for 6-8 hours. Shred after cooking.

  • Stir fry briefly in hot oil before adding liquid. Braise/simmer until tender.

  • Grill over high heat, slicing thinly across the grain when done.

  • Deep fry for 1-2 minutes until crispy on the outside but still gelatinous inside.

Always slice beef tendon across the grain after cooking for the most tender results. Enjoy in soups, stews, braised dishes, or as a snack!

Health and Nutrition Benefits of Beef Tendon

In addition to its great texture and flavor, beef tendon offers some excellent health benefits. Here’s an overview:

  • High in collagen – Tendon is loaded with collagen, which supports skin, hair, nails, joints, and gut health.

  • Joint health – The collagen in tendon may help improve joint flexibility and relieve pain. It contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine.

  • Anti-aging properties – Collagen fights wrinkles, repairs skin damage, and boosts elasticity for more youthful skin.

  • Gut health – Glycine in collagen aids digestion and may heal leaky gut. Collagen also assists nutrient absorption.

  • Weight management – Collagen boosts metabolism and fat burning. The protein is also quite satiating.

  • Lean protein source – Tendon provides protein with little fat, carbs, or calories.

Adding more beef tendon into your diet provides all these excellent benefits!

Tips for Enjoying Beef Tendon

Here are some final tips for selecting, storing, and enjoying beef tendon:

  • Look for tendons with shiny, tight surfaces without tears or fraying. Avoid any with unpleasant odors.

  • Store tightly wrapped raw tendon in the refrigerator for 2-3 days max before cooking or freezing. Cooked tendon keeps for 4-5 days refrigerated.

  • Clean and trim tendon fully before cooking for best results. Remove any membranes for most tender pieces.

  • Simmering or braising for 2-3 hours is ideal, but cook up to 7 hours for ultra tender results. Cut to check doneness.

  • Enjoy thinly sliced cooked tendon in pho, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, Chinese herbal soups, or Italian wedding soup.

With proper cleaning and cooking, beef tendon is a nutritious and delicious addition to many cuisines. Don’t be intimidated by the initial appearance – with a bit of preparation, you can enjoy this unique and versatile ingredient.

Beef Tendon


What does beef tendon contain?

The USDA doesn’t have nutrition data for tendons, but I did a little digging in the scientific literature and found that, by dry weight, tendons are composed of about 85% collagen (mostly type I), 2% elastin and 1-5% proteoglycan (in the full text of this paper).

What is beef tendon in pho?

Beef tendons are part of the cow’s connective tissue, located between the animal’s bones and muscles. Beef tendons are not easy to find in U.S. supermarkets, but they are a staple of many cuisines, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Taiwanese, Filipino, and Vietnamese.

What is the texture of meat tendon?

Tendon is tough and fibrous, but becomes soft after a long period of cooking. In some cases it may be boiled for as long as eight hours, while in other dishes it is prepared by deep frying.

Is beef tendon crunchy?

Salty, with an intense crunch that quickly dissolves on the palate, beef tendon chips are great on their own but also pair deliciously with beer or a juicy burger. As the tendons cook, their collagen turns into gelatin. By the time they are frozen and sliced, only about 10 percent moisture content remains.

Is beef tendon good for skin?

Yes, beef tendon is a rich source of collagen, which is beneficial for skin health and joint support. Including beef tendon in your diet can provide valuable nutrients to support overall wellness. 7. What are the health benefits of beef tendon? Beef tendon is high in protein and collagen, making it a nutritious addition to any diet.

What is beef tendon?

Beef tendon is a type of connective tissue found in cows, specifically in their legs and around their joints. It’s made mostly of collagen, which gives it a unique texture when cooked. People often use beef tendon in various dishes, especially in Asian cuisine, where it’s slow-cooked to make it tender and flavorful.

Does beef tendon have collagen?

Some studies suggest that consuming collagen from food sources may promote skin health by improving skin hydration, elasticity, and overall appearance. Moreover, the collagen in beef tendon may also benefit hair health by providing essential amino acids needed to build keratin, the primary protein found in hair.

Is beef tendon good for your joints?

Joint Health (My Favorite Potential Health Benefit Of Beef Tendon) Collagen is an essential component of our joints, including cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Consuming collagen from sources like beef tendon may help promote joint health and reduce joint pain.

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