Surf And Turf Chicken Livers With Soy Spinach And Wild Rice

This recipe is very much inspired by the Thai dish pad kueng niey gay, with some twists of my own. Chicken livers can be very expensive when purchased in the form of paté, but the raw prime ingredient is virtually given away these days. Modern home cooks tend to find raw offal unpleasant, both to view and to smell, so few home cooks try this excellent product. The texture of properly cooked chicken livers is one of the best in the culinary world and, cooked with the right seasonings, chicken livers can also have a great taste.

Ingredients (2-3 portions)

300 gm chicken livers
250 gm spinach leaves (fresh or bagged)
1 medium yellow onion
1 cup mixed basmati and wild rice*
4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp oyster and spring onion sauce (or use oyster sauce and add your own chopped spring onion)
1 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 cube vegetable stock
1 pinch mixed herbs (e.g. herbes de Provence)
vegetable oil
black pepper

* Supermarkets sell rice mixtures in which the wild rice is part-cooked. If using separate wild rice, pre-cook in accordance with instructions.


Thoroughly wash the chicken livers, but don't leave them around as they start to go off very rapidly. This dish depends on very light cooking, so freshness is very important.
These are are key seasoning ingredients, apart from the salt and pepper.

Oyster sauce is now readily available in supermarkets or in South-East Asian speciality food outlets. I like the variety with spring onion.

Other ingredients are nam pla, light soy sauce, vegetable stock and garlic. I started with 2 cloves but soon realised this was not enough!

First, chop the onion and garlic and sweat off one half in a little vegetable oil. Be careful not to let the onion burn.

Set the other half aside for later.
Once the onion and garlic have softened, add the rice and stir in well.

Fry gently for a few minutes, stirring frequently until the white rice starts to become translucent.

In the meantime, make up your cooking stock. Into some boiling water, add the stock cube and a pinch of herbs and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add half of the soy, oyster and nam pla sauces, holding the rest back to add at the last minute.

As a guide to quantities, add the same amount of stock that you would use when making risotto, i.e. cover the rice with about 1/2 inch of liquid above the rice surface.
While the rice is simmering, prepare the chicken livers.

Boil some water with a pinch of salt and add the livers when the water is boiling. The object is to extract the free blood as surface scum (see the photo) in as little time as possible (preferably less than 30 seconds).

Now strain and wash the livers to remove the scum and plunge them into iced water to prevent them from cooking any further.

This is the critical stage of the recipe. Overcooked livers are horrible - redolent of school meals. But get this right and they will melt in your mouth like butter.
When the rice is almost ready, fry off the remainder of the onions and garlic in some vegetable oil, with salt and black pepper.

This time get the temperature higher and allow some browning.

Now toss the livers into the frying pan and allow the temperature to rise, gently browning the livers.

Chop the spinach leaves and add to the pan, stirring regularly. Once the spinach has begun to wilt, add the remainder of the oyster sauce, soy sauce and nam pla.

It is important not to overdo this stage. Try to get some colour into the livers while wilting the spinach, but don't cook for too long. A couple of minutes should be ample.

During this final stage, drain and serve the rice.
Now turn out your livers, spinach and sauce onto the rice and serve.

Eat immediately - chicken livers cool quickly and go tough when they cool.

If you time all this correctly, the result will astound you. You'll wonder why you never bought chicken livers before. Unless, of course, like me you still can't be doing with liver even when it's cooked perfectly!