Should we talk about proteolytic enzymes, briefly? Broadly speaking, proteolytic enzymes are any enzymes that break the chains of amino acids that form proteins into smaller chains. From a nutritional perspective, this can hypothetically aid digestion or increase absorption of proteins by making more protein available to the body. I say hypothetically because a great deal of other things come into play to determine what your body actually does with this stuff when you eat it. But I’m not a nutritionist and that isn’t why I bring this up.
From a culinary perspective, proteolytic enzymes are tenderizers. In India, both to flavor food and tenderize meat, they sometimes use a tart, sour powder called amchur. Amchur is the sun-dried and ground flesh of green mangos, which contain proteolytic enzymes–making green mangos perfect for breaking down connective tissue in meat. So the mango actually shows up in many corned beef recipes to help the meat achieve that “just-held-together-by-hope-and-rye” texture.
Of course, using canned corned beef is a way to ensure that it’s tender, too…
A family recipe provided by Jennifer Kiel of Washington, DC, from her mother-in-law’s collection, started in Kent, Ohio.
Hot Corned Beef Sandwiches
2 Tbsp. fat
1 medium onion
2 Tbsp. mango
3/4 tsp. celery seed
1 cup catsup
1 can corned beef
1/4 or less cup water
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Simmer fat, onion, and green mango. Add corned beef. Add catsup, water, Worcestershire sauce and celery seed. Bring to a quiet boil, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Makes a very good sandwich filling.