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.