Dining In 1 minute 07 June 2017

Ask the Expert: How to Cook Liver

Most commonly enjoyed in the form of foie gras, liver remains one of the tastiest innards. Here are a chef’s tips on how to prepare and cook it right.

Cantonese Ask the Expert

Always had a burning question but not sure who to ask? In our regular Ask the Experts section, we do all the noseying so you don't have to. In this edition, we get Executive Chinese Chef Leung Fai Hung of InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong to share the best way to treat liver.

When it comes to preparing liver, there are many different styles. The French will pan-sear the part of a goose and serve it with fruit compote; on the other hand, a Japanese chef would carve out the small organ from a fish and use it in sushi. What would a Chinese chef do then?

Enter chef Leung Fai Hung. The Guangdong native has over 30 years of culinary experience, and has been with InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong since 1995. Under his stewardship, the hotel restaurant Hoi King Heen was awarded one star in the MICHELIN guide Hong Kong and Macau 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Executive Chinese Chef Leung Fai Hung of InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Executive Chinese Chef Leung Fai Hung of InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Tell us about the history of using liver in Chinese cooking.

Actually Chinese chefs started using liver to make dishes very long ago, back in the ancient times. Most commonly used was pig, chicken and duck liver, which was seen as a luxury back then. Now, because people are more health-conscious, chefs are using this ingredient less. But to me, liver is a good ingredient; cooking with liver produces very flavourful dishes.

How is liver traditionally prepared in Cantonese cuisine?  

In Cantonese cooking, sliced liver is cooked along with onions. Because pork and chicken liver can have a bit of a smell, we will usually braise the liver in herbs and spices then stir-fry it with onions to remove the smell but keep the texture and flavour. For chicken liver, we will usually cook it with the heart. The liver is marinated, then roasted so it's soft inside but has a nice sweet outer layer.

What’s the difference in taste and texture of pork and chicken liver? How would you cook them differently?

Both chicken and pork liver are very different ingredients. Pork liver, when cooked, has a rougher texture while chicken liver will be softer and a bit more powdery.

If you overcook chicken liver, it can still be saved. We would mash the liver with a knife, crack in an egg and cook it all up. As pork liver is tougher to handle, we will stir-fry simply or even make pig liver soup — but if we do this, we cannot just wash the liver and put it in. We will need to poach the liver first, wash it, then put it in the soup.
What are some things to look out for when choosing liver at the wet market?

Check for the colour of the liver. The surface must be bouncy and have some spring to it. Also, have a look if you can at the veins of the liver. If the veins are all of a different colour, then it shows the liver quality isn't very good. It should be the same shade. The liver should also have a bit of yellow hue to it.

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