My grandmother was never known for her cooking. She was known for her passion for cleaning, her scarves and the costume jewelry that she wore with the confidence and style of a 1940’s movie star, her welcoming smile and gregarious laugh, her unique perfume of cigarettes and that special scent everyone asked about, and many other amazing things that make us all miss her everyday. But, a good cook she was not! She overcooked to death any meat she came across and despite being raised on a farm in Kansas, most of her veg came from a can. However, every once in a while she made something amazingly delicious. There was her Thanksgiving stuffing that I try to emulate every year. Her giblet gravy which made ANYTHING delicious (even fibrous turkey meat). But what I remember most from my childhood was her ‘Liver and Onions’ recipe. As a youngster, I approached it expecting it to be gritty and disgusting. I ended up pleasantly surprised and happily finished the whole plate. My grandfather looked on with a smile, gave me a nudge and said, ‘Nana makes good liver n’ onions, doesn’t she?’ Indeed she did.
Liver gets a bad reputation. Some people say that it is gritty and has a strong metallic tang to it. However, when I remember my grandmother’s liver and onions, I don’t recall either of these traits. Why is that? Was it a special magic spice she coated it with? Nope. She cleaned it thoroughly and soaked it in milk (which is the ultimate magic trick to getting tasty liver). With a little salt and pepper and some carmelized onions to go with it, it is damn good. This recipe is a bit more exotic but still might be something she would like. The liver is soft and salty from the soy sauce and is deliciously paired with all the good stuff: garlic, ginger, a touch of Szechuan spice, chopped chilies and leeks. Needless to say, it’s a big hit in my house and it soon becoming one of my favorite stir-fry dishes. Even if you’re a little apprehensive towards liver, I suggest you give it a try. It just might turn out to be one of your favorite dishes as well. Grandma would approve.
400g (14oz) beef liver
milk (enough to soak liver in)
1 tbsp ginger (sliced)
1 tbsp garlic (sliced)
1/2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
2-3 leaks (sliced)
1-2 finger chillies (thinly sliced)
2-3 tbsp light soy sauce
Clean beef liver, cut away any discolored parts and let soak in milk overnight in the refridgerator.
Wash off milk and cut into thin slices. Season with sea salt and dredge in cornstarch.
Heat oil in large wok over medium high heat. Add Szechuan peppercorns and cook until peppercorns have infused into the oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and discard.
Turn heat to high and add liver. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Be careful not to overcook the liver as it has a tendency to get tough. Remove from heat and set aside on a plate nearby.
Next, add garlic, ginger and chilies. Stir-fry together for a minute or so until fragrant. Add chopped leeks and fry for 1-2 minutes or until soft. Add cooked livers and stir-fry together. Add soy sauce, stir together and cook for a minute or so until everything is evenly coated. Remove from wok and serve hot. Enjoy!