Stir-Fried Chinese Chives and Liver

Notice that the title of this recipe starts with the chives, rather than the liver? I imagine this will not become my most popular post. Many people do not care for organ meat. But have some amenability, and this recipe will be a revelation!

Chinese Liver and Chives

My mother used to serve liver and onions often. Liver was good for you. (find out!)
As kids, the problem was that it tasted like it was good for you. None of us cheered when it was on the menu. While the liver soaked in milk, my mom would fry a few strips of bacon, add sliced onions. Then she’d dip the liver in seasoned flour and fry the slices until they were good and done. The bacon helped, but the liver was chewy and tasted, well,
I’ve put off trying this recipe.Stir-Fried Liver and Chinese ChivesI wish I hadn’t!
The liver was luscious, tender and deeply flavorful. The ginger added just the right amount of heat, the sesame oil hummed a slightly exotic but comforting note, the chives were in key with a subtle garlic tone, and the sauce carried all the flavors in perfect harmony.

Ms. Shimbo says that Chinese restaurants are popular in Japan. Chefs cook up “Japanized” delicious and inexpensive Chinese-style dishes for lunch and dinner. Nira-reba Itame, stir-fried liver and Chinese chives is popular at these informal eateries.

Stir-Fried Liver and Chinese Chives

Nira-reba Itame
serves 1 to 2
page 446
Stir-Fried Liver and Chinese ChivesMarinating the liver:

  • 7 ounces pork or beef liver, cut into 1/4-inch slices
    (I used calves liver)
  • 2 Tablespoons sake (rice wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sake
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons shoyu (soy sauce)
  • pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon potato starch (or cornstarch)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Have a large bowl of ice water at hand. In a medium pot of boiling water, blanch the liver until the outside turns pale, about 20 seconds. Drain, and plunge the liver into the cold water. Rinse the liver and drain again. Pat dry with paper towel.
In a bowl, combine the sake, salt, shoyu, and pepper. Add the liver to the bowl, and toss. Add the potato starch and stir gently. Add the sesame oil and stir again. Refrigerate, covered, for 20 minutes.

Preparing the Vegetables and Sauce:

  • 10 ounces Chinese Chives, cut into 2-inch lengths
    I used Chinese chives from my garden, but ended up picking them after the rain, in the dark. Needless to say I didn’t get enough, so I added some sugar snap peas, and they added a nice texture.
  • One 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced very thin
  • 2 green onions, white parts only, cut into thin disks
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon shoyu
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch combined with 2 teaspoons water

Nira-reba ItameCombine the chicken stock, shoyu, and sugar.

Stir-Frying and Serving

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • Plain white or brown rice

Heat a wok or skillet, and add 1/2 cup oil. Heat to 360°F. Add half the liver and cook until the surface is golden. About 1 to 2 minutes. Remove liver to a plate and partially cook the other half the same way. Set aside.
Remove most of the oil from the skillet, leaving about 3 Tablespoons. Turn the heat to high. When the oil is hot, add the Chinese chives, and stir-fry them until they begin to wilt. About 20 seconds. Remove and reserve.
Add 1 Tablespoon of fresh oil to the skillet and fry the ginger and scallion over low heat for 20 seconds. Increase heat to high. Return the liver to the skillet. Pour in the chicken-stock mixture and toss vigorously for 2 minutes.
Return the chives to the skillet, and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Reduce heat to low. Give the potato starch slurry a stir and add it to the skillet. Stir until the sauce thicken.
Add the sesame oil and pepper, toss. Serve hot with plain white or brown rice.

Some facts about liver, from this interesting websiteome:

  • An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • One of our best sources of folic acid
  • A highly usable form of iron

Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
One of the roles of the liver is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents and poisons); but the liver does not store toxins. Poisonous compounds that the body cannot neutralize and eliminate are likely to lodge in the fatty tissues and the nervous system. The liver is not a storage organ for toxins but it is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins.

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4 thoughts on “Stir-Fried Chinese Chives and Liver

  1. I’ve been looking for a nice liver-recipe. I hated it as a kid too. But now I’ve learned to appreciate foie gras and chicken livers, I’m eager to try some calf liver too. So thanks, I think I will try this soon. I’ll let you know when I do.

  2. I’ve never thought of stir-frying liver. My mom used to fry liver kinda like country fried steak, and we’d have it with biscuits and onion gravy. It was very chewy, but I have to admit that even as a kid I didn’t hate it. I’ll definitely have to try this recipe.

  3. Hi Marisa,
    This is the first time I’d eaten liver in a long time. Years!! And it surprised me how good it was. I think calves liver is more tender, but it seems that my mom used calves liver, too. She probably over-cooked it.

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