When in Taiwan I occasionally hear some American expats speak of gizzards and other offal in the snack food street stalls as if one never finds such things in America. It strikes me that maybe back in the U.S. they never wandered into a truck stop or a rural midwest or southern gas station. But me, I love me some deep fried gizzard down at the local gas station. I grew up eating giblets (hearts, gizzards, liver), I even thought cleaning gizzards was the fun part of butchering chickens when I was a kid.
In Taiwan gizzards are braised until they are what the Taiwanese refer to as “Q” meaning chewy. In the U.S. they are usually breaded and deep fried resulting in what is definitely QQ, really, really chewy. I like ’em but they are a bit tough for some. The Taiwanese style are definitely easier to chew and mighty tasty too. Braising is a great way to tenderize tough muscles like gizzards as well as impart a lot of flavor. One sees all manner of braised animal bits, tofu, and vegetables for sale at roadside stalls in Taiwan.
There are dozens of different brazing liquid (滷水 lu shui) recipes from China and Taiwan. Here I will list 2 for the gizzards. Though keep in mind you can also use them for braising chicken legs, chicken wings, chicken livers, eggs, pigs ears, fish balls, duck feet, tripe, mushrooms, green beans, etc.
Ten Thousand Uses Braising Liquid (萬用滷水 wan yong lu shui) is a simple recipe commonly used for braising a variety of things in Taiwan. As the name might imply.
- 2 green onions, cut into 3 inch lengths
- 1 chili pepper, split (optional)
- 4 slices of ginger
- 4 T. sugar
- 1/2 c. rice wine
- 1 c. soy sauce
- 4 c. water
- 1 black cardamom pod 草果
- 4 g. (~1 T.) sichuan peppercorns 花椒
- 3 g. (~6 slices) licorice root 甘草
- 4 g. (~2 sticks) cinnamon stick 桂皮
- 5 g. (~4-5 whole) star anise 八角
- 4 g. (~2 t.) fennel seeds 小茴香
- Take a quantity of gizzards (about 1 to 1 1/2 lb.) wash them and blanch them in boiling water. Put the spice mix in a spice bag.
- In a clean pot combine all the ingredients, spice mix, and the gizzards. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (longer if you want more tender gizzards). Turn off heat and let them soak for 20 minutes. Remove gizzards and serve.
Chao Style Braising Liquid (潮式滷水 chao shi lu shui), named for the ChaoShan 潮汕 region in the Northeastern part of Guangdong Province, China. This one is a bit more complex and sweet in flavor.
- 3 green onions
- 4 slices ginger
- 5 c. water
- 1 c. soy sauce
- 1/3 c. oyster sauce
- 1/3 c. rice wine
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 5 cloves garlic
- 20 g. (~1 oz.) coriander/cilantro stems
- 1 T. salt
- 2 black cardamom pods 草果
- 10 g. star anise 八角
- 8 g. of cinnamon stick 桂皮
- 15 g. sand ginger 沙薑
- 5 g. each of cloves 丁香 and sichuan peppercorns 花椒
- 3 g. each fennel seeds 小茴香 and bay leaves 香葉
- 8 g. dried tangerine peel 陳皮
- 1/4 luohan guo 羅漢果 (~1 cube prepared) *
- 20 g. coriander/cilantro stems 香菜莖
- Wash and blanch 1 to 2 lb. gizzards in boiling water. Put spice mix in a spice bag.
- Put all the ingredients, spice mix, and gizzards in a clean pot. Cover and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let soak for another 20 minutes.
- Remove the gizzards, drizzle with sesame oil and serve.
Both of these braising liquids can be stored in the fridge or frozen and used again (add more; ginger, green onion, wine, etc. as needed). They improve with use.
*notes: Luohan guo (lo han kuo) in dried/prepared form can often be found in boxes in the tea section of Chinese and some SE Asian markets. It is used for an instant sweet beverage.
Even in America these are cheap eats, damn good, but still cheap eats.