Tag Archives: liver

Monkfish Liver.

15 May

Though born Taiwanese, my favorite Asian cuisine is actually Japanese. It is one the celebrates the beauty of balance and subtlety, minimalist to the eye yet unravels layers of flavor upon tasting. Rich yet delicate, is how I find Japanese food. The very philosophy can be easily found in one of the common Japanese delicacies: ankimo, monkfish liver. My dish of the day at YamaSho, Japanese restaurant cross karaoke salon extraordinaire.

To prepare this dish, the liver was first rubbed in salt, then rinsed with sake. It was then rolled in a cylinder to create the rounded shape, and steamed to be served. It came to me in gorgeous plating: slices of pink fish liver on top of a bright green shiso leaf, with a generous sprinkle of red, supple fly fish roes just winking at me all flirtatiously.

Just one bite was all it took to explain why ankimo is often referred to as the foie gras of the sea. It was rich, creamy yet light and delicate at the same time; without the heaviness found in duck or chicken livers, but just a hint of the ocean. It presents the perfect balance that sang the ideology of Japanese cuisine. The texture was silky smooth, a great contrast to the squeaky pearls of roes.

Though not served with the dish, I asked for a small dish of ponzu sauce. With the addition of this citrus-base sauce that resembles a very light mixture of soy sauce and yuzu vinaigrette, the monkfish liver suddenly came alive as if woken from a slumber. Whatever little stale heaviness that inevitably came with livers disappeared with the refreshing wash of citrus. It brought out this lovely sweetness that wasn’t quite there before. I am a huge fan of the right amount of acidity.

Another interesting way to enjoy ankimo is by wrapping it with the shiso leaf and dip it in the ponzu. The coarse texture and aroma of this minty herb paired well with the monkfish liver. Now if only I had some grated daikon, everything would be soooo perfect.

Monkfish liver can actually be found in most Japanese restaurants (at least in the Bay area). If you find the idea of offal still hard to stomach but feeling a bit adventurous, monkfish liver is quite the great “liver 101” into this mysterious world. Give it a try!

YamaSho | 1161 Post Street | San Francisco CA 94109 | 415.346.2222

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Pâté de Campagne.

1 May

I entered Cafe des Amis looking to enjoy some roasted bone marrow on toasted points and a cool terrine of trotters. It would be savory, delicious, and perfect paired with a nice glass of white on this warm, rare sunny San Francisco day. But alas, Cafe des Amis had failed me. My dream dishes could not be found on their brunch menu, which apparently replaces their lunch menu on weekends. How ridiculous – the French don’t even brunch!

Determined to begin my blog despite the little hurtle, I settled for something still slightly odd from the every day chicken and rice/meat and potatoes: an order of pâté de campagne.

For many, the word pâté calls for the famously creamy, liver-based pâté de foie gras. Though, pâté really just stands for a mixture of ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste, with optional addition(s) of herbs, spices or wine. For pâté de campagne, it is of the French farmhouse variety, usually made of coarsely chopped pork with garlic and herbs. Also known as country pâté.

The pâté de campagne at Cafe des Amis was made of pork shoulder. It came with pickled onion, small florets of cauliflower and dill pickles, ready to be spread on slices of warm, buttered toast.

The pâté, topped with sprinkles of green chives, was rich and meaty. Tiny white specs of garlic visible within the pink. The taste by itself was almost savory sweet instead of salty. The fat made it perfect to be paired with the pickled goodness.

I ate the dish two ways: with pickled cauliflower, then with pickled onion and a small dollop of mustard.

The cauliflower provided a soft, al-dente crunch. Paired to the tiny florets of tanginess, the pâté came to life on top of the buttery toast

The pickled onion, on the other hand, was some of the best pickled onions I’ve had. Equally tangy as the cauliflower but with a subtle sweetness, the little pink slices of heaven (likely pickled with red wine vinegar) packed a nice punch. Topping the pâté with a bite from the mustard, it was a simple yet lively ballad. Oh yum.

This sort of made up for the lack of bone marrow spread. Though now, as I write, I recall my last encounter at Zaré at Fly Trap: towering roasted bones arrived with a long silver spike that helped you poke out this rich, dark, savory marrow to be spread on crunchy toasted points with a sprinkle of fleur de sel…

*gulp*

Cafe des Amis: 2000 Union Street | San Francisco, CA 94123 | 415.563.7700