Stir-Fried Chicken Liver and Onions

I’ve always had a big fear of chicken livers because when I had them as a kid, they were always tough and bitter. Since I started cooking and appreciating food more, I’ve tried conquering my childhood biases. So far, I’ve overcome ampalaya (bitter gourd), eggplant (for some reason, I just hated this), and dinuguan (pork blood stew), among others (mostly offal and vegetables). This time, I was set on overcoming my disdain for chicken liver when not in pate form.

This dish came out pretty well, I think. I was choosing between doing a French-style version with butter, brandy and sherry, or this Chinese stir-fry. Since we were having squid and teriyaki sauce for dinner as well, I figured the latter would be better. When both the smoke and the plate cleared, I emerged victorious over the demons of my childhood. What I learned from tripe applies to chicken liver too. They have to be cooked just right so they don’t turn rubbery and weird. When they are cooked right they open up to some great dimensions of flavor and texture that I theretofore had no idea was possible.

The recipe I got was from Serious Eat’s resident offal writer, Chi Chi Wang and her blog The Nasty Bits. Having had no experience cooking chicken liver before, I pretty much just followed her recipe to the letter, my only variation being that I didn’t have the patience to garnish. Prior to cooking, I soaked the livers in some milk, because apparently that’s what some people suggest doing, then tried to remove some of the whitish membranes. I also didn’t realize that the chicken livers also had the hearts attached, and I decided to just cook those too. I think everything came out pretty well. Not too bitter and iron-y, as when I had them as a kid, and very creamy and rich. I want to try the Kylie Kwong French-style recipe, reposted in MarketManila next.

Chi Chi Wang’s Stir-fried Liver and Onions 

Ingredients
250g chicken liver
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons oil, separated into two
1 tablespoon, dried red chili flakes

Sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1/4 tsp salt

Slurry
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water

Method
Drain the livers from the milk bath and pat dry. Chop into 1/4 inch slices.

Heat a wok over high heat with two tablespoon of oil. Stir fry the onions until soft and browned.

Add the rest of the oil and the dried red chili flakes. Add the liver and stir fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce and stir fry for ten more seconds, then turn off the heat. Pour in the slurry and mix everything well together so the sauce thickens.

Serve with steaming hot rice and pair this with your favorite Hitachino Nest ale. I suggest the Japanese Classic or Red Rice, but you can never go wrong with the White.

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