When my boyfriend lived in Stoke Newington, we instigated ‘Turkish Tuesday’, which was essentially an excuse to try out a different restaurant along the Stoke Newington High Street to Dalston Kingsland stretch once a week and pretend it was a tradition. The Turkish restaurants in East London and Green Lanes offer some of the best value food in London, costing little more than about £15 a head for a full on feast (I’d recommend sharing a main and ordering just 3 mezze to start – portions are generous to say the least).
From this weekly excursion we quickly concluded that Testi (38 Stoke Newington High Street) was our favourite, pretty much based on its spiced liver starter and chargrilled pomegranate onions hot from the ocakbasi alone, and then couldn’t bring ourselves to go anywhere else. We were devastated when a few of its competitors failed to have offal on the menu, and nothing was more disappointing than when the onions didn’t meet expectations. On the takeaway front, the hyperbole in the The Best Turkish Kebab (125 Stoke Newington Road) is thoroughly justified.
I made this recipe with calf’s liver, which admittedly is a fair bit pricier than the lamb liver they use at Testi, (I get mine from Ginger Pig on Lauriston Road) but it’s considerably more tender if you are prepared to splash the cash. They tend to cook it until it’s pretty chewy, which I kind of like, but with calf’s liver it’s delicious quickly seared so it’s still juicy and creamy in the middle, for those who aren’t too squeamish with eating liver on the medium side.
Serves 2, as a starter or side
From the pantry:
2 knobs of butter
2 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp ground coriander
pinch of salt
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp olive oil
a few twists of black pepper
From the veg box:
3 small red onions, peeled and finely sliced
a few sprigs of dill (optional)
From the fridge:
1 x 150g calf’s liver (approx)
Marinate the liver in the spices and the pomegranate molasses for as long as you have time (I do it for a couple of hours before I cook it).
Heat a medium frying pan over a low to medium heat. Add the butter, let it melt and once it’s bubbling add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until very soft. Remove from the pan and pop on a serving plate. Add another knob of butter and a glug of olive oil, crank up the heat to high and sear the liver for about 1-2 minutes on each side with all the marinade in the pan, until it is caramelised on the outside and still pink in the middle (this will depend a little on the thickness of the liver). Transfer to a board and slice at an angle into 2 cm thick pieces, place on top of the onions, season well and spoon on the pan juices. Serve with a smattering of dill, if available.