Awful offal, I assume, includes heart, liver, lungs, animal’s entrails, plus tails, feet, and heads. This practice or custom of preparing offal dishes may (or may not) be a reflection of a culture’s economy and resourcefulness.
When we were young, Dad maintained a poultry farm in our backyard and distributed dressed chickens to wholesalers and neighbors. So just imagine offal overload. Our meals were full of chicken parts – not only the prime and choice parts. Think of adobong paa ng manok, chicharong isaw ng manok, chicharong balat at taba ng manok, dinuguan using chicken blood. (Chicken feet cooked in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper and soy sauce, chicken chitlin/skin/fat cracklings, chicken blood stew.) The best would be adobong atay at balunbalunan – the most widely eaten lamang loob. A lot of people say that in chicken nothing is wasted. But of course, not everybody likes what it offers. I for one wouldn’t dare touch a chicken head. I’ve tried it and I don’t wanna ever look back though I would lovingly go to the nearest dim sum restaurant for chicken feet.
So it was like our meals were full of chicken feet than we ever wanted – adobong manok with adidas (dish cooked in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper and soy sauce), tinolang manok with adidas (ginger stew), fried whole chicken complete with adidas. You name it we had it that for years I couldn’t bring myself to eat chicken until I was about 16. The chicken feet? Till the time I discovered dim sum in my early 20s.
I’m not one of those who stay away from offal dishes though I seldom cook such as I tend to be the only one who enjoys ‘em. Lasang Pinoy 9, hosted by Cia over at Pabulum, is all about lamang loob or innards and again I was tempted to buy the intimidating chitlins (check out my adobong isaw for LP6) but decided to cook the less controversial chicken liver instead. Chicken liver steak – mala bistek. (Read: Too busy with work I have no time to go to a decent supermarket to buy ingredients.)
Bistek is a Filipino-style beef steak typically made with strips of sirloin beef cooked in soy sauce, calamansi juice and onion rings. Sometimes we substitute beef with pork while using liver makes a good appetizer. Here’s how I did mine as I remember it the way my sister cooked it the last time she visited me here in Beijing.
A bowl of chicken liver (cut in halves or as they are)
1 cup of lemon juice (or 6 pcs. of calamansi)
salt (pepper is optional)
1 large onion (half chopped, half sliced into rings)
Marinate chicken livers in soy sauce, salt, chopped onions and half of the lemon juice for at least 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a pan over medium heat for a minute. Then saute/fry the onions and liver (complete with marinade) for about 5 minutes, covering the lid from time to time. Do not overcook. Just before turning off the heat, stir in half of the onion rings, another tbsp of soy sauce, (a dash of salt maybe) and the remaining lemon juice. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with raw onion rings if you like ‘em raw and crisp.
Few tips on cooking liver…
Saute it for at least 5 minutes or until no longer bloody in the core. You may get a big piece and cut in halves. But remember, color is not a reliable indicator of effective cooking as studies show that liver tissue may remain pink after it has reached a safe temperature. Look carefully for signs of blood. If not so sure, just cook for few more minutes. Livers if cooked too long maybe too dry and unpalatable.