Cold Kidneys in Sesame Sauce

Liangban Zhima Yaoz

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Flavor: Sesame SauceMeal: Easy, ColdDinner: Menu

    Mrs. Chiang’s combination of cold, cooked kidneys with a rich and spicy sesame paste-based sauce is as delicious as it is unusual. Because she barely cooks the kidneys, they have a delightful, crunchy texture. The sauce is one that goes with many cold dishes. Although few Chinese restaurants in this country use sesame sauce, it is a basic Szechwanese condiment. This dish uses its opulent, almost meaty, flavor to tone down the raw and powerful ones of the garlic, ginger, and hot peppers in a rich and subtle way.

    Preparing kidneys takes more time than preparing other cuts of meat, for they must be soaked and rinsed to get rid of the unpleasant trace of ammonia that otherwise detracts from the flavor of cooked kidneys. They also have to be carefully sliced and then scored on the outside of each slice. The scoring makes the kidneys look nice and, more important, helps them cook quickly. The worst catastrophe that can befall a kidney is to be overcooked. Tough kidneys are even more unappealing than uncleaned ones.

    Because this is a cold dish and must be made in advance, it is a useful one for entertaining.

    Method

    Preparation

    6 pork kidneys

    Slice each kidney in half lengthwise. Remove the core from each piece and discard, leaving only the brownish outside part of each kidney. (This is a time consuming chore but a necessary one.) Score the smooth outside of each piece lightly with two sets of parallel lines about ⅛ inch apart, so that you get an allover pattern of tiny diamonds. Then cut the kidneys into slices about the width of a pencil.

    Put the sliced kidneys in a bowl, cover with cold water, and let soak for 15 minutes.

    2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or cooking sherry

    Drain the kidneys, then put them back in the bowl. Add the wine, toss, and let soak for another 10 minutes. (The extended soaking helps the kidneys lose the peculiarly strong taste and odor that many people find offensive about kidneys.)

    While the kidneys are soaking, you can begin to prepare the sauce.

    8 cloves garlic Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your cleaver, then peel. Chop the garlic very coarsely.
    2-inch piece fresh ginger Peel, then chop the ginger coarsely as well.
    ½ teaspoon salt Take the coarsely chopped ginger and garlic and put them in a small steep-sided bowl or mortar. Mash them, together with the salt, until they turn into a thick paste, using either the handle of your cleaver, a wooden spoon, or a pestle. (The salt not only heightens the flavors of the garlic and the ginger, but its action in drawing out their juices also aids in the process of pulverization.) This procedure may take you several minutes, but the longer you pound it, the more pungent and delicious the finished product will be.
    3 scallions Clean the scallions, then chop them, both the white part and about one-third of the green, into pieces the size of a match head.

    Cooking

    2 cups water (kidneys)

    Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan and add the kidney slices. Let them boil over a moderate flame until they are thoroughly cooked, but for no more than 3 minutes. Don’t cook them too long or they will become tough.

    Drain the kidneys and rinse them thoroughly under cold water to remove all the scum that exuded from them while they were cooking.

    (garlic and ginger paste)

    (chopped scallions)

    ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

    ½ teaspoons hot pepper flakes in oil

    ½ teaspoon rice wine vinegar

    1-½ tablespoons soy sauce

    Put the kidneys in a bowl. Add the garlic and ginger paste, the chopped scallions, sugar, hot pepper flakes in oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame paste, sesame oil, and the ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns.

    Mix very thoroughly to make sure that all the kidney slices are coated with the sauce, then put on a serving dish and serve.

    1 teaspoon sesame paste

    1 teaspoon sesame oil

    ½ teaspoon ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns