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EVEN though, for quite a while now, you and I have been sort of sitting inside a semi-private room, staring at each other and talking about what I ate yesterday… when it comes to predicting what you would actually like to eat, sadly, I’ve got very little clues.  As a matter of fact, for the sake of honesty and sanity, I spent a great deal of obsessive and compulsive effort not to think too much about that.  Instead I try to say, or at least most of the times, that hey look, if it hasn’t already, this is the kind of stuff that will make your world a much more exciting and tastier place.

I can’t say I’ve been completely frank… I was too afraid that this rom would look like a swimming pool inside a Pig’s soft parts, but on the other hand, striking the balance has proven to be tricky.  After all, convincing people to watch someone downing a tripe stew on TV, vs to make it themselves at home, is two completely different things.

But lately, I came across a recipe that, I believe, could be the great missing link.


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Chicken liver, hey, not the most adventurous ingredient out there, is it?  Yet, as a mostly benign and susceptible “offal”, it’s still in my opinion, very under-utilized and under-appreciated.  I mean, most people probably can’t even readily find it at their local supermarkets, let alone knowing what in its purplish-bloody world to do with it.  Pâté?  Shit, who’s got the purplish-bloody time for that?

It’s really our’s, not the chicken liver’s loss.  Within its unfamiliarly shaped and shiny body, there are packed minerals, vitamins and above all, flavours.  Not to say, incredibly inexpensive.  Hey if you don’t do it, somebody will.  The south has long been enjoying their tasty monopoly on turning this unseemly ingredient into fast, pleasurable meals, or perhaps better known as, the dirty rice, which has already spread North to tarnish a boringly pale pasta in New York’s Lower East Side.  And now, the latest and my favourite yet, of its “bastardized” version, is this.

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Inside the latest issue of Saveur featuring best new restaurants all over America, is a place called Hot Joy, as part of the current sweeping campaign of neo-Asian cuisines through North America, in a mission to preach and feed the hungry masses (think this chongqing hot wings from Mission Chinese, or the green curry meatballs from Pok Pok).  Scanning through the lantern-red pages of outrageous neo-Asian recipes, the word “dirty” caught my attention.  Not only that it utilizes one of my favourite chicken-parts, but blending it with ginger, garlic, onions and shrimp fat to create an intensely aromatic paste to soil the clean rice in the most delicious way.  And if you’re anything like me, you too cannot resist the call to add lemongrass and lime leaves to the blend for the sake of “Thai-er” it up.  The result is a pungent but perfectly balanced, bold but friendly dish that any food-loving creatures should embrace.

Seriously, drop the turkey sandwich.  You should love this.



Servings: 2~4

The original recipe only uses celery, onion, ginger and garlic as aromatics in the liver paste, but I want it to take on more Southeast Asian flavours by adding lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.  Then instead of shrimp fat in soy bean oil, I used only Thai shrimp paste.  Although less common in supermarkets, is paramount in developing a complex, funky and savoury aroma/taste that makes Southeast Asian dishes so robust and relentlessly addictive.


Ingredients: based on Hot Joy’s recipe via Saveur

  • Liver paste:
    • 4 oz (110 grams) of chicken liver
    • 2 stalks (60 grams) of lemongrass (white parts only), diced
    • 3 small Asian shallots, diced
    • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
    • 1 tbsp of ginger, diced
    • 2 kaffir lime leaves, tough ribs removed
    • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
    • 1 tsp of Thai shrimp paste
    • 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper
  • 3 cups (450 grams) of cooked rice (preferably jasmine rice), cooled or 1 day-old
  • 1 cup (175 grams) of peeled and deveined shrimps
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce, divided in half
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of old bay seasoning and dried chili flakes
  • 2 ~ 3 thin scallions, finely diced or cut into thin strips

Trim off any unwanted fat-tissues attached, then soak the chicken liver in milk for a few hours to overnight, to draw out excess blood.  Drain off the milk and add the liver to a blender, along with diced lemongrass, Asian shallots, garlic, ginger, kaffir lime leaves (the soft leaf-parts only), soy sauce, shrimp paste and ground white pepper.  Blend until smooth and pureed (the livers and vegetables should emit enough liquid to blend).  Heat up 3 tbsp of oil in a skillet over high heat, then cook the paste until slightly browned, approx 3 min.  The paste should lose most of the liquid.  Set aside (can be made the day ahead).

Mix 1/2 tbsp of fish sauce together with soy sauce, then set aside.  Mix the remaining 1/2 tbsp of fish sauce with shrimps with a bit of cracked black pepper, set aside.  Beat the eggs only slightly, and have all the rest of the components ready on the side.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet over high heat, and cook the shrimps until just cooked through, then remove from the skillet.  Add another 1 tbsp of oil and add the slightly beaten eggs.  Scramble with a spatula until 1/2 of the eggs are cooked with the other 1/2 still runny.  Add the rice right now so it can be partially coated with the runny eggs.  Once the rice is added, add another 2 tbsp of oil and the fish sauce/soy sauce mixture, then quickly but gently break up the rice with wooden spatula, fold and cook over high heat until some of the eggs are slightly browned.  The faster you fry the rice, the shinier and prettier it will remain (so the higher the heat, the better).  Now add the liver paste, cooked shrimp, old bay seasoning and dried chili fakes, and scalllions.  Fold and cook only for a min until fragrant, and evenly incorporated.

Transfer to a serving dish immediately and serve.

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  • Nik@ABrownTable

    September 15, 2014 at 11:01 PM Reply

    This is what fried rice is all about! You just gave me a great idea for dinner :)

  • Francois de Melogue

    September 16, 2014 at 12:17 AM Reply

    You guys have absolutely the coolest blog! Every post sends to the kitchen so I can saran wrap my keyboard to keep it from shorting out…

  • Joyti

    September 16, 2014 at 12:21 AM Reply

    This looks delicious. Maybe I could vegetarianized it with some crumbly tofu skin…hmmm….

  • Mariela

    September 16, 2014 at 12:50 AM Reply

    I will make it my mission over the next couple of weeks to transform this baby into some sort of vegetarian flavor bomb. Love it!

  • Annie

    September 16, 2014 at 1:51 AM Reply

    This is my kinda food. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • cynthia

    September 16, 2014 at 1:58 AM Reply

    This looks absolutely heavenly. And I love your trick of adding the rice to the partially-cooked egg! Love this, Mandy.

  • Aine @ AwkwardIrishGirlBlogs

    September 16, 2014 at 2:29 AM Reply

    This looks amazing! Fried rice is such an underrated comfort food.

  • Sami

    September 16, 2014 at 3:56 AM Reply

    I hardly ever think to cook with rice. This makes me want to get my act together.

  • Devi

    September 16, 2014 at 4:32 AM Reply

    As others have suggested, I need to make a vegetarian version of this, fast. On an unrelated note, I very recently learned (through this article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/07/03/kaffir_lime_racist_murky_origins_suggest_a_racial_slur_might_be_responsible.html) that makrut lime leaves might be a better term to use. Just FYI!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      September 16, 2014 at 1:40 PM Reply

      DEVI, oh I didn’t know that!! thanks so much for passing on the information!

  • todd wagner

    September 16, 2014 at 5:42 AM Reply

    I’m sharing this with so many people, Mandy, you have no idea..

  • Erika

    September 16, 2014 at 8:00 AM Reply

    HellYes to chicken liver and fried rice.. this is legit sistah.. for real!

  • Jade

    September 16, 2014 at 8:04 AM Reply

    Thanks Mandy, you are amazing. Love the recipe, definitely going to store up some chicken liver. One question, is soaking liver in milk a way to marinate?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      September 16, 2014 at 1:42 PM Reply

      Jade, not so much to marinate it, but soaking in milk or water draws out the remaining blood inside the liver, making it more “clean tasting”. You’ll see the milk or water turning red over time, and the color of the liver pales.

  • Rudi

    September 16, 2014 at 4:40 PM Reply

    Brilliant – no Pàte this weekend

  • Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen

    September 16, 2014 at 4:40 PM Reply

    This looks so good! I could probably eat a whole panful of this. Like right now for a late breakfast.

  • sue obryan

    September 18, 2014 at 6:42 AM Reply

    Finally, a way I might be able to eat liver . . . husband looooves it, I can’t eat it, in slabs at least. Pate, yes. But like you said who has the time and butter and booze. Not me. I do wonder if this would work with beef liver as that’s his fave. Nice job here!

  • Ami@NaiveCookCooks

    September 21, 2014 at 2:48 AM Reply

    This looks so so good!! I am sucker for good fried rice!

  • Pang @circahappy

    September 26, 2014 at 11:55 PM Reply

    Oh boy, how can I miss this post..How can that be?!?!?!?! I have been on my (kind of) vacation, that’s why.
    Mandy, this recipe of yours totally hits a home run for my taste bud. I love love love chicken liver, esp. grilled liver on the stick, which I only find it in Thailand.
    And hello.. shrimp paste :) You definitely “Thai-er” it up very nicely. Love Love Love this post :)

  • Kim

    January 25, 2015 at 12:13 PM Reply

    I live in SA and absolutely love hot joy. I think your version might top there’s though. Need to try this asap!

  • Patty

    February 18, 2018 at 3:30 AM Reply

    I can’t bring myself to use chicken livers. Can you recommend an alternative?

  • Jenny

    April 25, 2019 at 11:57 AM Reply

    Hi Mandy,
    If I don’t have Old Bay seasoning, do I just omit it? Any substitute that you’d recommend? Thanks.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      April 25, 2019 at 10:17 PM Reply

      Jenny, hm old bay seasoning is a blend of spices that I’m not quite sure there’s a substitute. Try using your favorite blend of spices for a different spin maybe.

  • Dinesh

    November 24, 2020 at 4:28 AM Reply

    Hi Mandy,
    I recently found your blog, first thing I tried is this dirty that fried rice, so yummy, now I am getting requests to make this again and again from everyone who tried this. Thank you so much

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