Braised Chicken liver and onion 鶏の肝とタマネギの炒め煮

japanese cake

In recent years, the mosquitoes have become extremely bad in our area. We used to sit outside in summer but now we can barely sit outside without being eaten alive. So, right now (April and May) is the only time of the year when the weather is warm enough but the mosquitoes are not out yet. We decided to do “Yakitori” 焼き鳥  this weekend on our deck. The chicken liver we got this time must not have been handled well and many pieces were all fragemtned and not suitable for “Yakitori”. Although I could have made chopped liver, that could have caused some ethnic confusion. So, I decided to make this dish from the fragmented parts and we had it as the first dish before “Yakitori”. I think this dish is appropriate for any Izakayas

After cleaning and washing the liver well, I soaked it in ice cold water for 10 – 15 minutes. After draining, I soaked the liver in sake (I use “Gekeikkan” 月桂冠 brewed in California for cooking) for 20 minutes or so to remove any unpleasant smell. I drained and put the livers on a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. The fragmented portions of the liver I got from one container of chicken livers were about 1/2 lb after this preparation. Besides the chicken liver, I used coarsely chooped onion (two small), finely chopped ginger and garlic (1 tsp each), garlic chives “nira” 韮 (about 1/4 cup chopped, from our garden).  I put penut oil (1 tbs) with a splash of dark sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan and put it on a medium high flame and added the onions and sautéed for 5 minutes until it becam soft and edges browned. I then added the garlic chives, garlic, and ginger and sautéed another 2-3 minutes and set aside. I cleaned the pan with a paper towel and added another tbs of penuts oil and put it on a medium high flame. When the oil was hot and shimmering, I added all the liver pieces and sauteed until the surface changed color (2-3 minutes). I like this portion of cooking to occur at rather high heat so that the juices will not come out. I added the sauteed vegetables back into the pan and added 2 tbs of mirin, 2 tbs of soy sauce and 2 tbs of sake. I stirred and flipped until the liquid reduces to 1/3 and became somewhat viscous. I could have added corn starch slurries here but I did not. After I put it in a serving bowl, I added cracked white pepper and thinly sliced scallion as a garnish. It is sort of onion and liver in a Japanese style. I did not follow any recipe but this flavor combination appears very common among Japanese dishes. This is a very good dish. 

We enjoyed it with a glass of a rather rustic turbid sake or “nigori sake” 濁り酒 from Kyoto Kizakura brewery 京都黄桜 “snow maiden” “Tozai Yuki musume” 東西雪娘 . Perfect pairing! It has tropical fruit on the palate with a slight sweetness but very straight forward sake. We continued with “Yakitori” with this sake. This rather simple but rustic sake is very enjoyable with down-to-earth dishes like Yakitori. The only strange thing about this sake is that it came in a pastel “pink” bottle and the label said it was named after a 226 year old carp (yes, a carp, see in the picutre) named “Hanako” meaning “flower child” (Although “Hanako” 花子 is a generic female Japanese name–you’ll never meet a woman named “Hanako” much like you never meet a dog named pooch or rover–No direct comparison or offense meant or implied here. The person who came up with this name may have been at Woodstock). I am sure this is another one of those “bottled for export only” items. I wish the color of the bottle wasn’t quite so pink and it was named after something more along the lines of Yeti or “Yuki otoko” 雪男.

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