Monday, May 26, 2014

Get Exotic With Your Ingredients... Grilled Yakitori Chicken Hearts

I'm talking about chicken hearts... can it get more exciting than that on the family table? I had a package in the freezer my husband had picked up fresh at the Asian supermarket. I like that about him. He often picks up unusual ingredients just because it piqued his curiosity.... which is great for me because I will have to make something out of it and I love experimenting! I didn't know what to do with it at the time, but after thawing it overnight, I thought the best way to introduce this to the family was to serve them grilled- on skewers, Japanese-style. And boy were they a hit with every single one...

Contrary to what people may imagine, fresh chicken hearts are not gritty, rubbery or slimy or have a strong livery, offal taste. When quickly grilled on high heat, they become tender morsels with a hint of red meat taste and a soft springy texture like flash-fried fresh squid. Chicken hearts, are rich in essential B vitamins (including B12, riboflavin and folic acid) and minerals (including zinc, selenium, iron and potassium).

Grilled Yakitori Chicken Hearts
Makes 8 skewers

48 chicken hearts
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. mirin (Japanese rice wine) or substitute 2 tsp. of dry sherry + 1 tsp. sugar

Kosher or sea salt for sprinkling
1) Combine the soy sauce, garlic, sugar and mirinToss chicken hearts in marinade and let sit for 20 minutes before threading onto skewers. I poke six hearts each onto eight skewers.

Soak the skewers in water for an hour to prevent them from burning on the grill.

2) Grill on a barbecue or on a grill pan over the stove. Cook on high heat for a just few minutes each side (overcooking will result in tough hearts). Make sure juice runs blood-free. Serve immediately.

Actually, having made this twice, skewering hearts in lengthwise
as below photo cooks more evenly and thoroughly.

My kids couldn't get enough. I had to take the remaining three skewers away else my husband and I wouldn't have any. It didn't phase them when I explained what they were. They were essentially devouring heart by heart, tugging them off the stick, chewing, and smacking their lips with a satisfied look on their faces. More they said, more....

When you're thinking of bringing in a new ingredient to your regular meals, always try to adapt it in a dish or format your family is already enjoying. In my case, my kids can eat anything off a stick; if that didn't work with chicken hearts, then I guess the next bet was stir-fry. The Japanese flavouring really made these savoury and sweet, coupled with the intoxicating aroma of BBQ and fresh chicken essence, the result was pure succulence!

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