Breadcrumbed shallow-fried beef sweetbreads, with homemade “Russian” sauce on the side. The sweetbreads require a certain amount of preparation – soaking, simmering and cutting out the various membranes and vessels – but it is not difficult and done properly, the sweetbreads are quite delicious. Sweetbreads are also one of the few parts of the animal not used in yakiniku so they are fairly cheap here in Tokyo.
The sweetbreads straight out of the packet. They have been well butchered and contain almost no blood, so the hard work is already done.
Sweetbreads after being prepared: gently cooked through and with all the vessels, membranes and other connective tissue removed. To make cooking easier they are then pressed between two weighted-down plates overnight in the fridge, so they firm up and have an even thickness. There are many ways to cook them: the old-fashioned method is to have them fried and covered in a Malmsey or Madeira sauce; they can also be deep-fried or added to meat stews and Ruhlman & Polcyn stick it in sausages, with an architectural receipt as long as your arm. Personally I prefer the simpler stuff, and just breadcrumbed the sweetbread pieces and shallow-fried them in olive oil with a mayonnaise-type sauce for dipping on the side.
The taste and texture is amazing – not bloody, like liver nor creamy like brain, just very delicate and juicy and delicious. I can see how a rich fortified wine sauce would go well with sweetbreads; there is always next time.