Eat Drink Style 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.

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