Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Gastronomy Domine II: You don't know what you're missing

It's cold. It's slippery. It's a disk of fleshy goodness that comes from one of the ocean's ugliest creatures, the monkfish. It's ankimo, better known to you hakujin as monkfish liver, and it's one of my favorite sushi dishes. My sister-in-law won't eat it. The fact that she's some sort of environmental toxicology-type person should, I suppose, make me worry every time I swallow a fat mouthful of ankimo, but hey, you only live once. And besides, a little mercury never hurt me before. I suspect that most people's first encounter with liver is the beef liver steak, pan-fried and smothered in onions. No small wonder then that people shy away from the Noble Gland. Beef liver is too strongly flavored to be pleasant in any form. Definitely an acquired taste. But, what about chopped chicken liver? This, too, can be mismanaged. Make it too dry, too dense, and with too much raw onion, and you'll have the culinary equivalent of stucco. My chopped chicken liver is an adaptation of the Commander's Kitchen recipe. Great cookbook, but don't follow their 'chicken liver spread' to the letter; you'll end up with liver fudge. By weight, this sucker is one-third butter. Ugh. When I want chopped chicken liver, I begin a few days in advance. I roast a duck. Rendered duck fat is flavorful and (unlike butter) a liquid at room temperature. (That's what makes the end product so much lighter than the usual deli fare.) I saute onion and garlic in duck fat, then I add my chicken livers. Once they are thoroughly cooked, I add salt and pepper to taste, along with a grind of nutmeg. I deglaze the pan with brandy or cognac, then add Worcestershire sauce and Tapatio hot sauce. I pour the deglaze over the livers and let them cool; then I process the crap out of them. In its consistency, the end product is far closer to thick whip cream than it is to mud. It's a near-perfect Atkins food, by the way -- pure cholesterol, but hardly any carbs. Serve it on celery sticks and you can even feel good about eating it. Liver: you know you want it. D.


Blogger Jona said...

Ooooo, yuck!! Can't eat liver, won't eat liver! too many memories of being force-fed liver and onions as a child. And duck? Ooooo, they're too cute to eat (I have a rule about not eating cute things, and therefore my meat diet is slim *g*).

Sorry I haven't mailed you back yet, I've been good and not even peeked until I have time to properly sit down - which hasn't happened this week, but TF the weekend is nearly here! (only two parties, and one tennis tournant, yipee)

5/19/2005 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Ankimo is for you, then! You saw the monkfish, right? That's the antithesis of cute. Just think: you'd be improving the average good looks of the ocean floor by eating some poor bastard monkfish's liver.

5/19/2005 10:02:00 PM  
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