Bull Testicles   -&-   Rocky Mountain Oysters
Two Bull Balls [Beef Fries, Bull Balls, Swinging Beef]

In Spain the balls of a fighting bull killed in the ring are most prized, but here in California we have to settle for just any old bull. The photo specimens averaged about 7 ounces each. The one to the left was 5-1/2 inches long and 3 inches wide. I presume these are harvested at puberty, after which bulls become ill tempered and difficult to handle.

Rocky Mountain Oysters are properly the balls of a male calf. These are cut off at branding time. Presumably having someone's initials burned into their hides with a red hot poker distracts the calves from this procedure. With balls removed the calves grow up to be large, tractable steers rather than dangerous, ill tempered bulls. Unlike the photo specimens, RM oysters are about the size of a walnut.

More on Beef Innards



Buying:   Here in California bull balls are found in the meat section of markets serving Mexican, South American and Southeast European communities, and we have plenty of all of those. They are packed on foam trays weighing 3/4 to 1-1/2 pounds depending on size and whether the tray holds 2 or three balls. They are not cheap, running US $4.99 / pound where I shop, more elsewhere.

Rocky Mountain Oysters are a special order item around here, and I understand they are getting a bit scarce in Montana too, due to the current practice of just snapping a strong rubber band around the sack to cut off circulation and waiting for them to die and fall off.

Prep:   Here in Los Angeles commercial bull balls have been cut on one side and soaked to pre-prep. The only prep needed is to wash them and peel off the outer membrane. This is not so easy and requires patience. The membrane is very tough, adheres fairly well, and the testicle is very tender - and you can hear the bull screaming in heaven the whole time. If you have purchased balls or oysters frozen, they are easy to peel if you do it just as they start to thaw.

If your balls come fresh off the bull, or you have purchased balls or oysters that haven't been factory prepped, you should soak them in milk, beer or salted water (varies with recipe) for about 2 hours after peeling.

Cooking:   Bull balls and oysters are almost always pre-cooked (about 10 minutes in court bouillon made the same as for fish, 6 minutes for oysters), sliced, battered and fried. Pre-cooking firms the balls up making them very easy to slice neatly. Bull Balls are often pan fried in 1/8 inch of olive oil (pure or pomace, not virgin) but the smaller oyster slices are most often deep fried.

Yield:   The outer membrane is substantial. 14 ounces of bull balls yielded 10-1/4 ounces edible (73%).

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