I was delighted to spot calf’s liver at my butcher the other day and decided to make our popular dish, Ciger Tava, Sautéed Liver, served with red onions, parsley and sumac piyaz salad. Also known as Arnavut Cigeri in Turkey, this is an easy and delicious way to enjoy liver flavored with red pepper flakes, accompanied by sumac flavored red onion & parsley salad. With a squeeze of lemon over, it is great to see even those who may pass liver normally, enjoy this way of preparing.
I used calf’s liver as it was available but try also lamb’s liver if you can get it; utterly delicious prepared this way and a hugely popular mezze at home. We enjoyed it as a main course, accompanied by these delicious Potato and Bulgur rolls with pomegranate molasses, Patatesli, Bulgurlu Kofte aside.
Tip: The trick with cooking liver is that it needs to be stir fried quickly for a few minutes each side so it browns slightly and gets crispy outside but stays moist and soft inside. So please prepare your red onion, parsley and sumac salad first and then cook the liver so that you can serve straight after cooking over the salad, with a wedge of lemon aside.
We have a rich meze tradition in Turkish cuisine with a healthy, wide range choices of salads, dips, mezzes, vegetables cooked in olive to share with family and friends, including this Sauteed liver dish – all included in my cookery book. Ozlem’s Turkish Table, available to order (with a prompt delivery) at this link.
- 500 gr/ 1 ¼ lb. fresh lamb’s or calf’s liver
- 60 ml / 4 tbsp. light olive oil
- 45 ml/ 3 tbsp. all-purpose (plain) flour
- 10 ml/ 2 tsp. red pepper flakes or chili flakes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the red onion, parsley and sumac piyaz salad:
- 1 large red onion, cut in half lengthways and thinly sliced
- Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 10 ml/ 2 tsp. ground sumac
- 1 lemon cut in wedges
- Make the piyaz salad first. Slice the red onion and rub 1-2 tsp salt (preferable sea salt) into the onion slices; this will soften the onions and make them more palatable. Stir in the chopped parsley, ground sumac and black pepper, combine well. Spread the piyaz salad on a serving dish and set aside.
- Slice the liver into chunky bites or stripes (removing skin or ducts).
- Spread the flour on a tray and stir in the red pepper flakes, salt and ground black pepper, mix well. Toss the sliced liver into the flour mixture and make sure all liver pieces have a light coating of the flour mixture.
- Heat the olive oil is a wide, heavy pan. In the meantime, place absorbent kitchen paper towel on a clean tray.
- Toss in the liver into the hot pan with olive oil and sauté on high heat for about 2-3 minutes each side. The liver pieces will become crispy and have a light brown coating outside but still will be moist and soft inside. Once cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper towel.
- Serve immediately over the bed of red onion, parsley and sumac salad. We like to serve with a wedge of lemon and squeeze the lemon juicer over the liver while eating; it gives a lovely refreshing taste to the liver and complements the red onion salad well.
Oh, this is amazing way to eat chicken liver, Ozlem, so beautifully cooked and served with a hint of lime:) Love it! The Turkish food course is really enjoyable, and the best part is I can watch it at my own pace…xxPeri.
Many thanks dear Peri, I used calf’s liver and lamb’s liver is traditionally used – I am sure chicken liver would be lovely too, great suggestion! And my huge thanks for all your support for my online course, so glad you enjoyed it – indeed flexibility the course offers has been very valuable, Ozlem xx
Özlem’ciğim, Thanks for the recipe. I’m sure Mark would love it – I’m not a liver person but he loves it. But I can vouch for all the recipes in your course! They’re each one of them delicious and tested in our kitchen. We’re very keen on the patatesli bulgurlu köfte. Take care, ailene selam söyle, sevgilerimle xo Jolee
Merhaba Jolee’cigim, many thanks for this – I know liver is an acquired taste and I’d be delighted to get Mark’s seal of approval:) My huge thanks for your very kind words re my online course, no better compliment hearing you’re enjoying the recipes there – bulgur & potato rolls are a favorite with us too. Cok sevgilerimle, Ozlem xx
For years I hated liver – having flashbacks to stomach churning school dinners. Discovering liver cooked this way in Turkey changed my view and we have it quite often cooked in this style. We’ll give your recipe a go as we’ve always just muddled through – making it up as we go along! I’m moving back to the midlands in a couple of months – the past years gone really quickly. It was great meeting you and I’ll keep following your blog. Kath x
Merhaba Kath, many thanks for stopping by, so glad you enjoyed liver at home, we love it too. It’s worth serving with sumac, red onion and parsley salad, and definitely with a squeeze of lemon 🙂 All the very best with the move back to Midlands, it was a pleasure to meet you too and please give me a shout if you are in our part of the world, would love to meet up. Cok Selamlar, Ozlem x
Ahhh! Ciğer ciğim – one of my all-time favourites – now restricted to an occassional, naughty treat on doctor’s orders. So, watch out SDs – a little of what you fancy does you good, bit . . .
Indeed a delicious treat for us too, Alan, we have it once in a while too and love it : ) Cok Selamlar, Ozlem
What a great recipe Ozlem, I love liver and this is such a great way to prepare it. Will definitely try this one out but will be using Himalayan salt instead of the sea salt.
Many thanks dear Leonie, lovely to see you here – it really is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy liver, as traditionally prepared at home – I think you will also enjoy the red onion & sumac salad – your pink Himalayan salt would be perfect!
I wish i liked liver because this recipe looks so good, but I can’t get over the texture. Like Kath, school liver dishes scarred a lot of us Brits.
It’s an acquired taste BB, I can understand – I feel lucky that we’re introduced to liver this way at home, so delicious and love it : )
OMG – you have no idea what the School Dinner Service could do to / with liver (always ox liver)! Fortunately, my mum could cook, & we had very good lambs’ livers at home. I wasn’t permanently scarred!
PS. your recipes & methods are clear & organised – thank you.
Merhaba Graham, thank you so much for your kind note – I am with you! So glad you’re enjoying my recipes, afiyet olsun, Ozlem
I must admit that I did have some terrible liver school dinners but it was also pretty much the staple food at home too and I certainly learned to really like it. It was never as good looking or tasty sounding as yours, though. I love the sound of this but I think I’d have to make it when I’m on my own. I can’t think of anyone else that I know well who likes liver in the same way as I do.
Thank you Phil, I am glad the recipe tempted you to try, I think you will enjoy the refreshing flavors of lemon and sumac, it goes well with liver.
Tried it with calves liver, I found it a pretty good variation of liver and onions. The Chilli definitely works well with the liver. Not quite as nice as the Venetian version of liver and onions but a nice change for once in a while. Can’t help thinking that Coriander might have worked better than Parsley though.
Merhaba Been, many thanks for your note, glad you enjoyed the sauteed liver, Turkish way. Coriander is not traditionally used in Turkish cooking but i agree with you, it does work well with liver; my husband prefers coriander to parsley and I use coriander for him. So really whatever your taste buds ask for – afiyet olsun!
Hmm that’s rather interesting that Coriander’s not used in Turkish cuisine. Gotta say: I expected otherwise. Well, at least the coriander seeds.
Oh well, Turkish cuisine can’t cover all the bases I suppose…
Merhaba again; corriander was used during the Ottomans period, for instance the Circassian chicken with walnuts sauce – Cerkez tavugu – was made with fresh corriander, thanks to the women of Circassian origin in Harem. Fresh coriander is not something you see often in modern Turkish cuisine though- there is kisnis; the coriander seeds used in some recipes. Personally I love fragrant coriander and it really is wonderful in Cerkez Tavugu, in case you may have go, here’s the recipe https://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2010/08/cerkez-tavugu-circassian-chicken-with-walnut-sauce/. Cok Selamlar, Ozlem
Tesekuler. Even the picture’s got my mouth watering.
Turkish cuisine is so extensive, so enormous. Coriander’s not something I imagined they’d leave-out.
Rica ederim, it is indeed so extensive and in time, evolved quite a bit too; glad you are enjoying Turkish cuisine 🙂
Dear Ozlem, this was the absolutely best fried liver I ever prepared. I was wondering, do you add lemon juice to the red onion salad as well as liver? I did and it was divine.
Dear Nona, many thanks for your note – I do add lemon juice to liver after cooking, so glad you enjoyed the recipe, afiyet olsun!
this is excellent, i have used both Calf and Lambs liver and today i`m doing the recipe with Ox liver. The salad is tangy and the whole thing makes a great meal wrapped up in some simple flat breads.
Merhaba Stefan, many thanks for your note, so glad you’re enjoying my sauteed liver recipe! Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem
Esin yapti bu tarifle, kendisi Kanadali ce nefisoldu, tesekkur ederiz.
Merhabalar Hakan Bey, cok mutlu oldum, esinizin ellerine saglik.
Bu arada yemek kitabim Ozlem’s Turkish Table, imzali kopyalar su anda 20 % indirimde ve Kanada dahil tum dunya capinda sevkiyati var su linkte, esiniz icin dusunmek isterseniz, selamlar, afiyet olsun,
I just discovered this! I had lamb liver and a fresh jar of sumac. This is DELICIOUS.
Absolutely delighted to hear you enjoyed my sauteed liver recipe – it’s divine with sumac onions, isn’t, we love this too. One of the most popular recipes from my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table.
Thank you and Afiyet olsun,