The Difference between Tanshio and Gyutan
Our family sometime goes to a Yakiniku restaurant in our neighborhood for dinner.
Every time we dine in the restaurant, I definitely order the meat portion “Tan-Shio (たん塩 or タン塩)”, literally “Tongue Salt”, at least once.
When diners order Tanshio, the Yakiniku restaurant near my house serves thinly sliced salted beef tongue, so I assumed Tanshio to be made from cow tongues.
But from the Tanshio snack food I purchased today, I noticed that Tanshio can also be made from pork tongues.
In fact, doing some research online, I found that some Yakiniku restaurants in Japan offer sliced salted pork tongue by the name of Tanshio.
Tan-Shio (タン塩) and Gyu-Tan (牛タン)
The salted tongue, “Tan-Shio (タン塩)” can be eaten by grilling in many Yakiniku restaurants around the country, while when we Japanese hear “Gyu-Tan (牛タン)”, many will be reminded of Sendai’s specialty thick beef tongue slices.
Gyutan is a portmanteau word made by combining the Japanese word for cow “Gyu (牛)” and the English word Tongue, so unlike Tanshio, Gyutan only refers to beef tongues.
Besides, Sendai’s Gyutan usually uses carefully selected beef tongues and takes much time and labor to be prepared, compared to normal Tanshio slices offered by affordable Yakiniku restaurants.
Normal Japanese Yakiniku restaurants serve the Tanshio beef (or pork) tongue soon after removing the outer skin and thinly slicing the meat.