On the hunt for bones to make pho with and our usual location was all out, so we decided to check Al-Salam Halal Meat. I phoned ahead (twice) to confirm price and stock and both times was greeted by a very friendly sounding man who called me “Brother” after every sentence. I could hear some bustle in the background of the calls, but it didn’t prepare me for all the stuff going on when I arrived.
Various butchers cutting huge slabs of meat to order, people standing waiting around the store, guys coming in to pick up orders, people coming up and down from the grocery store upstairs (which I didn’t get a chance to explore this visit) etc. I’m guessing they serve a lot of the restaurants in the area since there are many middle eastern and African restaurants that must create a significant demand for Halal products.
I found the shank bones fairly quickly, already prepackaged and cut up into discs and only 2/3rds of the price we had been paying elsewhere!
But something else caught my eye off in the corner…
….some big-ass ballsacks!!!
Lamb testicles to be exact. I have had soup no. 5 in the Philippines which contains bull penis and testes in the ingredients, but it was so chopped up you wouldn’t really know what you’re eating unless you’re told. But these were big, magnificent, and fully intact. I texted Wendy for approval but she didn’t text back in time so I took the lamb by the balls and went for it!
So here’s the recipe for preparing the lamb testicles. It was a nice day with some sun even though still freezing so I decided to fire up the BBQ. No sauce, just salt and pepper and threw those bad boys on the grill. Let them sit on high for a good 10 or 15 minutes until the inner meat came bursting out of the skin like a lobster tail. We let that inner meat brown a bit too and then squeezed lemon juice over them. Wendy didn’t stand a chance here…she could barely look at them without her stomach heaving. She took issue with the gamey smell: she compared it to liver which she eats regularly but it’s just grosser coming from an animal nard. Her overall reaction was to gag and feel like vomiting. However she was brave enough to at least try a bite.
For my part I really quite enjoyed them. I could take the high road and compare them to the aforementioned lobster tail; succulent, butter-textured, and gleaming, sprung forth from its veiny leather shell…but really they’re just balls right? I do taste the comparison with oyster though; bit of an aftertaste like a fried oyster and similar mealy texture. Skin was pretty tough.
I finished three without a hiccup, only part I didn’t fancy was the spermatic cord, a bit too tough and ropy but likely not meant to be eaten anyway (I’m guessing). I wanted to save the big one to fry on the stove top but we left it in the fridge a little too long and it discoloured and got slimy (within a week, so if you try this at home the recommendation is to cook the same day you buy).
So that’s all for now folks but we may revisit this dish or something similar in the future so stay tuned.