Having heard recently of a prevalence of iron deficiency in young women, and being ever mindful of health and nutrition, I took it upon myself to purchase some red meat from my local Giant Supermarket. Arriving at the meat section I found myself unimpressed at the prices. Not wanting to wait until the weekend to visit the farmers markets in search of more reasonably priced produce, I conducted myself to the offaly boney section of the refrigerators, and decided upon a neat little pack of heart and a nice section of lamb off cuts as my proteins of choice. $7 later I was on my way with 750g of pure beefy muscle, and the same of meaty lamb bones as my dietary supplement of choice, with only a vague idea of how I wished to cook them.
The initial idea was simply a stew in the vein of beef bourginon, no pun intended, however I am loathe to become too comfortable with one recipe as a ‘go-to’, which prompted me to search for some more interesting ways to use this most illustrious of organs. Although I have never cooked heart before, it is a safe bet to assume it would do well slow cooked, being simply a lean muscle similar to other cuts of beef, albeit with more iron content. It does apparantly, do well cooked very briefly, and I will show my great Australianism by saying my nearest reference to this sort of cut would be kangaroo, which is similarly very lean, and also requires either very fast, or very slow cooking. I would say octopus would be another ‘meat’ in this category, although I don’t cook it with any degree of frequency, only enough to know that marination is it’s good friend if it is to be cooked in a flash.
Initial forays into Google came up with not much of interest, the only recipe at caught my eye was for Peruvian Anticuchos – of heart skewers traditionally cooked as street food. This recipe looked the most promising – plus I love stumbling upon ingredients I have never heard of before, and the ají panca paste featured in this recipe definitely fits that bill. According to Serious Eats, it is a very mild type of chilli grown in Peru, which is dried and smoked for use in cooking. The more you know! I do have some smoked ancho chilli that might be a good substitute, and some fresh corn that would be great on the side. I also love learning about making dishes that are representative of a country’s cuisine, so this one is a definite contender.
Further hunting yielded some interesting Beef Heart Pastrami recipes, although I don’t have the means to smoke meat right now, or the energy to Macguyver it. I definitely want to get in to some curing in the future, though perhaps with a more standard cut. Also DH is away for a while, and I wouldn’t want to deprive him of such an epic cooking adventure!
Being a huge fan of all things Chinese, I thought I would scout a nice recipe from that country, unfortunately it seems offal recipes don’t often get translated into English, so then offerings were scarce. Cue my choppy knowledge of kanji/hanzi from my Japanese studies, and a search for ?? yields more promising, if less comprehensible, results. Chinese and Japanese share many of the same characters, so this will give me probably far more Chinese results. Adding ??? will steer the Google machine towards Japanese.
The most appetising Chinese recipe was a simple chilli garlic stir fry with capsicum and spring onion, you can see the Google translate version here.
I think this would go well for a novice heart eater (!?) as the strong flavours would mask any ‘offaly’ flavours, plus it’s fast to cook and I have all of the ingredients ready to go. The translation is a bit sketchy but stir frying is pretty straightforward as long as the amounts and times are correct. It definitely fulfils the fast cooking requirement, too!
So with this recipe in mind, it’s into the kitchen!
The offending organ, thankfully pre trimmed by the butcher.
Dredging the slices.
The finished product!
So, to save you the pain of the terrible Google translate version, here’s the recipe (adjusted down to serve maybe 2-3 hungry people:
Spicy Beef Heart Stir-Fry
300g beef heart, thinly sliced
2 small spring onions, cut into 2 inch sections
1/2 capsicum, cut into 2 inch sticks
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 fresh chillies, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or rice wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup rice flour for dredging
4 tbsp oil for stir frying
1. Using chopsticks, dredge the beef slices in the rice flour and shake dry.
2. Heat oil in a wok or large frypan until it just starts to smoke. Add beef slices and toss until colour starts changing.
3. Add garlic and chillies, then Shaoxing wine and salt, toss to coat beef.
4. Add capsicum and spring onion, and stir fry until just coloured.
5. Remove from hot pan immediately, place into serving bowl. Serve with rice.
This was an interesting recipe, very simple, and also using only salt and no soy sauce at all. The end product was really tasty, the texture from dredging with the rice flour was a bit odd, I am not sure if this is one of those intentional interesting textures that many Chinese recipes strive for, or just a result of my wok not being hot enough to crisp it.
Regardless, the taste of the dish and the contrast of the rich beef heart with the fresh and crunchy vegetables was really appealing, and the chilli and garlic worked well with the more pronounced meaty flavour of the heart. I was a little squeamish at first, and trying any new meat can be a little difficult, but I really found myself enjoying this dish and looking forward to leftovers tomorrow! I wouldn’t call the flavour offaly at all, it is just more ‘rich’ than the flavour of other muscle meat. It’s certainly cheaper than other cuts, which doesn’t hurt either!
I actually think heart would work well in any Chinese stir fry recipe that calls for lean beef, especially ones with some strong chilli and garlic to stand alongside it. I have some Sichuan boiled beef slices in mind for future adventures with heart! Now, about those lamb bones…
Awesome websites found today:
Spring Tulip’s Fun Chinese Cooking
Katsudonist – in Japanese, the author documents his eating experiences, mostly in ? (rice bowl) restaurants.