Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On the Road to Japan #4: Gizzards & Hearts, Truly the best Chicken Parts



There’s nothing more frightening to a PETA-activist than driving down Valley Blvd. and finding the horrors served up by many of the Chinese zoos. Upon walking into a restaurant, a beautiful display of deep-fried and roasted animal carcasses stops you in your tracks. Platypus Soysaucekus: the soy-sauce duck hanging off hooks. Porkus Deepfriedae: the fat pig that’s been opened up like a big children’s book. Intestinae Sausagi: the flesh-colored garden hose dangling like sausages from Tom & Jerry cartoons. And the butcher/zookeeper who dices and slices up our poor farm friends without remorse. Oh the horror…

But what a delicious horror it is. Before I got into writing about my culinary and gastronomical experiences, I wasn’t into the inner workings of an animal. But I realized that the best food in the world comes from the genius of peasants, worldwide. The upper class were given the ‘delicious’ parts, such as filet, breast and ribs. The rest of the animal was destined for the trash bin, but was soon sought after by the impoverished. They were gonna have to make the unused parts edible if they wanted to live, and they were gonna make it damn tasty.

Take for example, Coq Au Vin. This dish was created by farmers who had a lot of cheap Charles Shaw wine and meat/veggies on the verge of becoming rotten. Rewind a few centuries. One day, Farmer Jean got a little too loaded after a long day of unearthing potatoes. He suddenly got the munchies and scurried around the kitchen for something to eat. Bottle in one hand, veggies in the other, he threw them in a pot with some old chicken meat and fresh herbs and set it on simmer. Two hours later, he woke up from the floor with an excessive headache and what did he find? A delicious dish of Coq Au Vin (Chicken with Wine).

This behavior transcends through all cultures, even to this day. The Chinese offer beef tripe, stomach lining and chicken feet at dim sum. The Vietnamese love to eat cubed pork blood in their soup noodles. The French sautéed snails with some garlic, herbs and butter. My favorite style of cooked animal innards is that of the Japanese culture. Known as yakitori, chicken parts are skewered and grilled over charcoal. Restaurants like Terried Sake House and Gyu-Saku serve up some good yakitori and make a killing. At TSH, you can get 5-6 pieces of chicken parts like hearts and gizzards on a skewer for $1.30. Sounds cheap? Not really, when you can easily eat 15-20 skewers and still want more. I dropped by 99 Ranch Market last Sunday and skipped the ‘regular’ meat section and headed for the ‘special’ meat selection. There I found one lb. packages of hearts and gizzards for $1.75 each!!! So for the fourth installment of “On the Road to Japan”, I present you with yakitori that I cooked over at my friend MK’s place. He and I will eat anything and everything. You can buy Yakitori sauce at a Japanese market and using a brush, add some of it to skewers while you're grilling it or after it's done. Squeeze some lemon juice over the Yakitori right before serving. Traditionally, Yakitori is done on a charcoal grill, but a regular grill will work fine.


The hearts came out awesome. MK put just the perfect amount of Yakitori sauce on the skewers. Juicy, tender and supertasty.


The gizzards are typically chewier, but if cooked right, should have a nice crunch to it. We overcooked these and didn't put enough salt on it.

Thanks for reading.

9 comments:

BoLA said...

Gizzards and hearts, oh my! I think I'll pass, and stick to the thigh and white meat parts of the chicken. ;) Looks absolutely delicious though! Can't wait for some good Musha kara'age next week! :D

Jeni said...

You mention that some of the best stuff comes from the inner-workings of an animal. I dunno man. One time my co-workers got me to eat some inner-workings of a cow. I ended up gagging that crap out only to find out that it was "bile" according to their translation. Hearts & gizzards I can do, but I probably won't go beyond that.

Daily Gluttony said...

ok, yummmm! loooove me some chicken hearts and gizzards. my parents used to boil 'em with chicken wings & boiled eggs in dark soy & sugar. sooo goohr!

rick james said...

dude,

Charles Shaw is like the most famous guy i know...

i think they should name a school after him or maybe even a national holiday...

if i ever get a dog, i'm gonna name him Charles Shaw for sure...

elmomonster said...

Still can't find the GUTS to try chicken liver/heart yakitori just yet. But you sure make it look easy to STOMACH! I HEART yakitori though.

Colleen Cuisine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Colleen Cuisine said...

First I read Eddie's post on Deep End Dining, and then I read yours. Now yours seems completely within my comfort zone. Hearts, gizzards, cool... I can deal. And not a bull pizzle in sight... phew!

Passionate Eater said...

Ha ha! I love it! Yes, different cultures have definitely mastered the art of making the most of different kinds of foods. Very funny post EDNBM!

I do have a minor question (that will likely reveal my ignorance), but is that purple color on the gizzard + heart skewers from the sauce? I've never had Japanese-style gizzards and hearts, only the Chinese and American-style. (I can see though that I am missing out, since the kind I eat are just boiled and grayish-looking.)

MEalCentric said...

Man, I love hearts and gizzards. Who knew they were that cheap?! That means Honda-Ya is making like 100x markup on the skewers! Bastards. I'm totally going to start making this at home.

Also, looks like I am following in your footsteps and going to Japan for new years. Make you sure post all about your stay so I can pick up some pointers and tips!!

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