Eating offal may sound a bit disgusting to some Western people, but it is very common in Japan. My father used to work in a fish whole market and loves watching nature programs such as Animal Planet. He said that you can see carnivorous animals eating the guts as soon as they hunt because they know the offal is the tastiest and nutritiously richest part of the whole bodies.
I believe that it is also a reflection of Japanese philosophy that we try to use every part of an animal once they are killed, showing respect for their lives. We take someone’s life to live, so we want to use as many parts as we can rather than wasting any of it.
Today, I’d like to share a recipe for chicken hearts. Chicken hearts are very popular ingredients especially in Yakitori restaurants in Japan. They call chicken hearts “ハツ (hatsu).” I think the Japanese pronunciation came from English “hearts”.
*Yakitori (焼き鳥) is a place you can be served grilled chicken skewers and they also often have other kinds of meat such as pork and beef or vegetables, although “Tori” means “bird(s)” in Japanese.
Chicken hearts may not be a common item at your supermarket, but if you have a butchers shop or a supermarket which has a butcher section, they can probably prepare chicken hearts at your request. We normally buy them in a supermarket for 8-9 Canadian dollars per kilogram.
- Chicken hearts: 300-500 grams
- Asparagus: 1 bunch (about 300 grams) or other vegetables you like
- Frech coriander or spring onion
- Milk (for preparation)
- Garlic: 2 cloves
- Oil: a tablespoon
- Butter: 15 grams
- Soy sauce: a tablespoon
- Salt and Black pepper
- Lemon: ¼
- Roughly remove the fat (white parts) from the chicken hearts, notch to the centre of them and open them up.
- Soak chicken hearts in milk for 10 minutes to remove the smell, drain them and rinse them with clean water.
- Blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes or until they get to the tenderness that you like, and drain them.
- Chop up the garlic and fresh coriander (or spring onion).
- Spread the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, chicken hearts and a pinch of salt, cook them on medium heat until they change colour, stirring them occasionally.
- After chicken hearts are cooked, add the asparagus and stir them. Season with butter, soy sauce and black pepper to taste.
- Serve them on a plate, squeeze over the lemon juice and put fresh coriander (or spring onion) on the top.