Cooking liver the (delicious) indigenous way
IT’S always said that if one wants to experience a country’s cuisine one needs to go to the streets. Have you ever taken a culinary tour around the streets of Mzansi? Chances are that the aromas coming from the street vendors will entice one to try out the food. A group of street vendors I once bumped into in Joburg cook sheep’s liver to perfection. Their liver was so appealing and delicious that I decided to call the cook, Oaitse, and ask for some pointers before preparing it for this column. The aroma of the liver changed my perception of street food.
When a sheep or a cow is slaughtered, usually the first part to be cooked is the liver together with the caul fat sautéed with caramelised onion.
Minimal seasoning is used. In traditional ceremonies or rituals, the liver is cooked by men in cast iron pots as soon as the sheep or cow has been slaughtered.
Some cultures soak or let the liver rest in milk for about 30 minutes to drain out the blood prior to cooking. Such preparation is not done in indigenous cooking. When preparing the liver caul, the fat is first to be cooked. The excess liquid fat that comes from it is drained and preserved as hard fat, which may be used in other dishes such as samp and beans.
Liver can be cooked indoors or outdoors depending on the mood or occasion. This week’s lamb liver recipe is adapted from that of street vendor Oaitse.