Plate or Pass: Lamb testicles [VIDEO]
Lamb fries, Rocky Mountain oysters, bulls' eggs, stones. It's time to lay the euphemisms to rest and tell it like it is: We eat testicles and we don't care who knows it.
Dying to know why testicles are incredible? Well for starters, they're cheap, coming in at around $3 for a pack of six medium-size lamb balls. They're also relatively low-calorie, pack a ton of protein, and are pretty damn tasty if you know what to do with them. Some even consider testicles an aphrodisiac.
We're not sure if it's the novelty factor or the actual taste, but people go wild for testicles of all kinds, including those of cows, lambs, kangaroos, roosters, and turkeys. A few years ago, Denver's Wynkoop Brewing Company offered beer brewed with 25 pounds of bull testicles, first as an April Fools joke, then as the real deal. Testicle festivals, which celebrate the consumption of a variety of testicles, are held yearly at small towns around the country -- there's even one in Zumbrota, Minnesota. And in 2012, Holy Land's head chef Samer Wadi and his brother Majdi Wadi introduced lamb fries to the Minnesota State Fair. See also: Lamb Fries: The tastiest testicles at the State Fair
"We felt like lamb fries will be a unique thing to bring to the State Fair," chef Samer Wadi said. "We did not expect the attendance or the willingness of people to try it. We thought it was gonna be an iffy thing, but no way, we received a lot of good feedback ."
Wadi grew up eating lamb fries and said his father's were the best. "It's edible, it's tasty, so we get used to trying to find a use for every part of the animal," he added.
Holy Land sells raw lamb testicles, as well as lamb kidney, stomach, and feet (which looked more like half a lamb leg, hoof and all). Of course we had to try the testicles, so we bought not one, but two packs, bringing our purchase to a total of around 14 individual balls. Lamb testicles vary in size, which means some lambs are either bigger overall or just better endowed. We didn't ask. The membranes are light pink in color and most are marked with a number of horizontal purple lines that look a lot like stretch marks. A few of the testicles we purchased had what appeared to be large, dark purple veins along their sides -- crowd favorites, to be sure.
There aren't a ton of lamb testicle recipes circling around the internet, so we primarily played this Plate or Pass by ear. We started by combining two cups of flour, a tablespoon of salt, and two teaspoons each of turmeric, cumin, curry, and black pepper in a large bowl before setting it aside to prepare the juicy bits.
Testicles sans membranes
We're not gonna lie, Hot Dish readers. The process of removing membranes from testicles was the most fun we've had in the kitchen since mom let us bang on pots and pans with spatulas. It's equal parts slimy, technical, and horrific and, really, what could be more satisfying? The process begins with an incision into the membrane, or the thin outermost layer of the testicle, with a sharp knife. Our knife was not, however, as sharp as it could be, which made for a not-so-appetizing grinding sensation and sound.
Once we made a two-inch slit, we slid our fingers between the membrane and the gelatinous orb within and carefully removed the outer layer. At some points, the membrane stuck to the insides and would only detach after some light scraping with our fingernails. We hope you're not eating lunch right now, but if you are, we've set the video on the next page to some pleasant muzak to make the viewing experience more palatable.
With the membranes removed, the testicles hardly knew what to do with themselves. They flopped around, drooped into an amorphous pile, and borderline melted after sitting out for a few minutes. But that's not all! The inside of the testicle also happens to smell a little like fish rapidly approaching expiration.
Next, we cut the testicles into smaller chunks and coated them with the flour mixture. Initially, we thought we'd need to first dip them in egg whites, but these things are wet and slimy enough to hold the flour coating all by themselves. We added the chunks to a pan coated with an inch of sizzling hot oil and fried them for about two minutes on each side. When they lost their amorphous quality, they were ready to be served.
Lamb fries just might be our most popular Plate or Pass item yet. Split between four people, the plate of fried testicle bits was devoured within ten minutes. We preferred ours with ketchup, but others enjoyed them plain. The fries are extremely lamb-y, perhaps a stronger flavor than any other lamb product we've ever tried, and they do retain some, but not all, of their gelatinous texture.
"It reminds me of the first time I ate escargot, where once I was able to get over what I was eating, I really liked it."
"It is really good. I'm eatin' it without ketchup right now. It does have a fish tone. It's interesting."
"It's good until I get the image of a testicle in my mind."
Verdict: Plate, and make sure you try making them at home at least once. The membrane-removal process is not to be missed.
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