I really hate the term superfoods. I think it’s misleading and dishonest – it suggests that any other ‘normal’ food that we eat is somehow inferior to a food that is easily accessed far away by another culture. The idea of cherry picking particular foods from far away as being more nutritious than the food we can source locally seems wrong to me, considering the distance they have to travel. However much they claim to be minimally processed, they are still changed from their natural state, just so that we can enjoy it, a teaspoonful at a time, in our smoothies. What nonsense.
Of course, I’m a hypocrite – because I DO have maca powder in my cupboard, and I do dabble now and then. I buy them out of curiosity but I tend to use them once (usually in smoothies) and then not buy them again as they’re usually quite expensive. That’s why I was pleased that rather than having a ‘Superfood’ day for the Natural Chef course, we had a ‘Booster Food’ day. This sits much more comfortably with me – the idea that these expensive foods are there to provide extra support, to enhance and boost our food.
In any case, I’m all about championing our own locally sourced and under-utilised superfood – liver. Organ meats in general are rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and a whole range of minerals. Liver is particularly high in nutrition because most of the nutrients the body absorbed from food go here first to be stored or processed. Many ancestral-eating experts point out that our hunter-gatherer ancestors and most carnivorous animals tend to eat the organs of their kill and discard the muscle meat to scavenger animals. After three days of lectures on vitamins and minerals, I’ve come away with the understanding that if we eat liver, oily fish and green vegetables most days, we’re pretty much going to be OK!
I’m not really a fan of liver but knowing its benefits I’m determined to keep trying it, and with this recipe I hit the jackpot. I absolutely loved the spice coating which helped to mask the mineral-y flavour of the liver. The key is to make sure the liver is cut thin enough to be cooked very quickly – just a minute on each side. This keeps it moist and avoids the dry, crumbly texture that I hate. If you eat dairy, you could of course have yoghurt sprinkled with cumin seeds instead of the cashew ‘yoghurt’ but if you’re avoiding dairy then this alternative is surprisingly convincing; in any case it tastes good as a dressing in its own right. You could replace some of the water with a spoonful or two of coconut milk or water kefir if you wanted to add some probiotics.
Even if you hate liver, try this recipe as you might be surprised; I certainly was!
Ingredients. Serves 4.
For the cashew ‘yoghurt’:
- 100g cashews
- 1 small clove garlic
- 100ml water
- 1½ lemons, juiced
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
For the liver:
- 500g lamb’s liver, sliced into thin strips
- 1 tbsp. tapioca flour
- ½ tsp. chilli powder
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1½ tsp. coriander powder
- 1½ tsp. cumin powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 2–3 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 tsp. ghee or coconut oil
- 10 curry leaves
- 2 shallots, thickly sliced
Method. Preparation time: 2–4 hours soaking + 15 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes
- Soak the cashew nuts for 2–4 hours, then drain and rinse thoroughly. Blend the cashews and garlic clove with the salt, the lemon juice and most of the water. Taste for sourness and add more lemon juice if needed and blend until very smooth. It should be the consistency of yoghurt so add more water if needed. Taste for seasoning and scrape into a serving bowl. Toast the cumin seeds in a small frying pan until a shade darker and the spicy aromas are released. Stir half of the seeds into the cashew yoghurt and scatter the rest on top. Set the cashew ‘yoghurt’ aside but keep at room temperature.
- In a large bowl, mix together the tapioca flour, spices, salt and pepper until well mixed. Pat the lamb’s liver slices dry and place them in the bowl and mix well to ensure they are well coated.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large frying pan or wok on a medium-high heat. When hot, lay pieces of liver in the pan in a single layer without touching. Fry for about one minute until crusty and golden brown and then turn them over for another minute. Both sides should have a nice golden crust. Remove and drain on pieces of kitchen towel while you repeat to fry the rest of the liver in batches. Once they’re all cooked, tip the livers onto a serving dish.
- Wipe the wok clean of oil and debris and heat the teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil. Add the curry leaves and shallots, stir and fry until the curry leaves have crisped up and the onions rings have softened slightly; guard against burning the onion. Lift the leaves and onion rings out of the oil and scatter over the liver. Serve immediately with the cashew ‘yoghurt’ and cauliflower rice.