Use your Instant Pot and this easy recipe to cook Beef Tendon (Gan Bo) in less than half the time it takes to cook on the stove top. Beef tendon is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Added to hearty dishes like Beef Stew (Bo Kho) or Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo), beef tendon adds tantalizing richness and crunchy gelatinous texture to many dishes. The conventional method of boiling the tendon takes hours. With the Instant Pot it takes just 30 minutes of pressure cooking time. Like it? Please read on!
What is Tendon?
Tendon is the strong fibrous tissue connecting muscle to bone. It’s quite tough and typically takes hours of boiling until it’s tender and edible.
Fresh beef tendon is sold at at many Asian or Mexican grocery stores. The tendon is often pre-packaged or sold by the piece at the meat counter. Occasionally you can find tendon in the frozen foods section. My local Asian grocery store sells fresh beef tendon for $5.99 per pound. Two medium-sized beef tendons weigh about 1 pound.
Notes on the Instant Pot Beef Tendon (Gan Bo) Recipe, Tips and Tricks
Beef tendon has a strong smell and should be thoroughly washed before cooking. I use salt and distilled white vinegar to wash and deodorize the tendon. After removing from the packaging, rub the tendon with a generous amount of table salt. Then soak the tendon in distilled white vinegar and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Longer is fine too. Rinse the tendon well to remove the salt and vinegar.
The next part of the prepping may be a bit icky, but it’s important to make sure everything is clean for eating: the tendon often has residual hairs and you need to pull them out. If you look closely at the tendon, you’ll see short black hairs. Some are obvious, sticking right out and some are underneath the loose skin.
To remove the hairs, pluck them out using tweezers. (Yes, I have a dedicated pair of kitchen tweezers specifically for this task. No tweezing eyebrows with this one later. 🙂 ) Some of the hairs are embedded deeper into the tissue, so you may have to pull firmly to pluck them out. I typically extract the hairs after soaking in the salt and vinegar solution. This soaking makes the hairs easier to extract.
If this is your first time cooking tendon and you’re not sure how firm and crunchy you’d like it, sample some of it after cooking. If the tendon is too firm, pressure cook for another 15 minutes and check again. My 30-minute pressure cooking time makes a moderately firm tendon with a good amount of crunch. A quick way to check the tendon for doneness is to pierce it with a chopstick or fork. If you can pierce the tendon all the way through in one smooth motion, it’s cooked. If you have to use lots of muscle to pierce the tissue, it’s not cooked enough.
Beef tendon is difficult to cut right after cooking because the heat makes it a slippery jelly. Refrigerating for 30 minutes will firm up the tendon and make it much easier to cut. Dry the tendon by blotting it with a paper towel so it doesn’t slip or slide around during slicing. Always use a sharp knife and a solid cutting surface when slicing the beef tendon.
Instant Pot Beef Tendon / Gan Bo
Instant Pot Beef Tendon / Gan Bo
Use your Instant Pot and this easy recipe to cook beef tendon in less than half the time it takes to cook on the stove top. Beef tendon is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Added to hearty dishes like Beef Stew (Bo Kho) or Beef Pho / Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo), beef tendon adds tantalizing richness and crunchy gelatinous texture to many dishes. The conventional method of boiling the tendon takes hours. With the Instant Pot it takes just 30 minutes of pressure cooking time.
- 1 lb beef tendon , approximately 2 pieces
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
Transfer the beef tendons into a large bowl. Sprinkle both sides with salt. Pour in the vinegar and coat the tendons in the solution. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Rinse the tendons with cold water.
Remove any hairs using tweezers. Rinse again with cold water if needed.
Transfer the cleaned tendons into the Instant Pot's inner pot. Add enough hot water to cover the tendons.
Cover with the pressure cooking lid. Set the steam release handle to "Sealing". Cook on High Pressure for 30 minutes and allow for a natural pressure release.
Remove the lid. Transfer the tendons into a bowl of ice water and let soak for 1 minute.
Dry the tendons and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Use a sharp knife to cut the tendons into thin slices or chunks. Add to your favorite dishes.
Refrigerate any remaining portions for up to 1 week. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Notes, Tips & Tricks
- A quick way to check the tendon for doneness is to pierce it with a chopstick or fork. If you can pierce the tendon all the way through, it's cooked. If you have to use lots of muscle to pierce the tissue, it's not cooked enough.
- Use boiling water to reduce the time to pressurize the Instant Pot. It takes approximately 15 minutes to come to pressure.
- Natural pressure release is approximately 15 minutes.
Some wonderful recipes to enjoy with the Instant Pot Beef Tendon recipe:
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Bo)
Beef Shank and Pickled Mustard Greens Soup
(Canh Dua Cai Chua Bap Bo)
Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen
I love tendon in Pho and in Szechuanese recipes. yet my attempts have been uniformly poor to awful.
It is just only until now that I found what I feel is the perfect recipe– one that actually delivers optimal flavor and above all perfect texture.
It’s almost a liberation of sorts.
Many thanks, G. (San Francisco).
Do you a tripe Instant Pot recipe too?
I love tendon but never tried to cook it before. I don’t have an instant pot. Can I cook it in a slow cooker or on the stovetop? Should I add any seasoning to the pot? Can I use the liquid for soup after cooking?
You can boil on the stove top. Depending on the size it takes about 2 hours on the stove or 8 hours in a slow cooker. You can add any seasoning you like.
I don’t recommend using the liquid for soup. It’s extremely oily. Good Luck!
Great cooking instructions Trang! Thank you!
Trang you are such a sweet lady thank you so much for the step by step it helps me a lot
I love the instructions on how to cook these !
I adapted it to my pressure cooker and cooked for an hour to
make sure they’re soft !
I’ve used them in your Gan Bo, and also for Pho !
I’ve discovered, that if you place these in a terrine with a weight on it,
and chill over night….you can slice these very thinly and then fry them
like chicharrones !!!!
What you end up with is ”’Puffed Beef Tendon” !
It’s amazing !
Thanks again for the Gan Bo recipe !
This I must try! Tendón Chicharrón sounds amazing
I have used a slow cooker to prepare the tendon, and modified a recipe that added garlic, ginger, and star anise (etc.) to flavor the tendon while cooking. I just got an Insrtant Pot and am anxious to try it this way. My tip – after letting the tendons cool a little I put them upright in a quart container with a wide mouth. Put in the fridge and let it solidify. When you want some, unmold it from the container, and cut a horizontal round with a sharp knife – no mess trying to cut each tendon! Cut as much as you need, and return the remainder to the container, or cut it all at one time, and return to the container. I use my quart soup containers for this. It works perfectly.
Nice tips! Thank you for sharing.
Hi Trang, great instructions. I don’t have an instant pot so modified to my moms pressure cooker. I timed from when the pressure release valve began to dance. 30 min was not enough, it took a total of 50 min. Next time i know. Your method is sooo much easier & We love tendon in our family. Great source of protein, low fat. Great for folks w diabetes. We are mexican & use in menudo as well as asian dishes. Thank you for this time saving method. I even eat in tacos! Yum!!
I am glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe and adapted it to your mom’s pressure cooker. Did you use an electric pressure cooker or a stove top cooker? I ask because I think other readers may find your comments helpful. Of course, depending on the dish and one’s personal preference, tendon can be soft or crunchy. Thanks for taking the time to share your comments. I’ll definitely have to try them in tacos! Yum!! 🙂
Can we reuse the water which is boiled with the tendon?
Hi Trang, I made the tendon in the IP and it turned out nice and crunchy, just the way my family likes it. I like the trick to dry and refrigerate the tendons. It made it much easier to slice. Thanks a bunch for a great recipe!
I am glad you like the recipe plus the tips. Enjoy the delicious tendon in your favorite dishes. Happy Cooking!