Five of the best places to eat offal in London
If you kill an animal, surely you should respect it by eating it all?
Offal used to be the mainstay of a British diet, it was cheap and nutritious and frankly we were just not squeamish about it.
Many other cultures still celebrate the innards and I think in support of Organuary we should take more on board, I hope that these dishes inspire you.
Not only is January Veganuary, Dry January, Tryanuary, and Ginuary... it's Organuary too...!
Photo courtesy of @lateef.photography
With Burns Night looming on 25 January, I thought it was only fitting to mention a Scottish restaurant first.
Oche Aye dust off your tartan and swing into the nearest cèilidh
Naturally Mac and Wild are having a Burns Night tasting menu to celebrate the night they honour Scotland's most famous poet Robert Burns with the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties.
Haggis was traditionally made in an animals stomach, although nowadays many synthetic versions are used and it is stuffed with offal such as heart, liver and lungs, with the addition of onions, suet and spices.
The restaurant is wild about sourcing, foraging and game. Meat that is not supplied by their own family butchers in the Highlands is very carefully sourced and they are very proud to name all the suppliers.
Nothing complements a good haggis like a good whisky, and with three pages of whisky choices on the menu, you are in safe hands to try this here too.
lambs sweetbreads at Somsaa
Som Saa cook up the most exciting range of authentic Thai food using seasonal ingredients. Alongside prime cuts they occasionally feature offal, for example, stir fried lamb's sweetbreads with oyster sauce and black pepper.
It is best to go with a group of friends so that you can all share an array of dishes at one time.
My advice is balance your choices: choose some dishes that are sweet, some that are sour, some that are salty, and some that are hot, so that you can experience the full palette of Thai cuisine.
Offal is a really important part of the day-to-day diet of Thai people to make their food both nutritional and filling, and I have to say they find many yummy uses for it in noodle dishes and soups.
In particular I love blood cakes with noodles. They may sound shocking, but it's similar to black pudding, just with a gorier name.
Marinated lambs testicales at Testi
Testi, a family-owned restaurant in Stoke Newington has been running for 20 years and serves up an amazing array of traditional Turkish food in a really buzzy restaurant.
One of their signature dishes is chargrilled marinated lambs testicles. It's worth noting that the restaurant name is not a pun on testicles: Testi is actually is a vessel for drinking water.
Testicles are a common Turkish dish, but it's nice to be able to get these in London.
I don't know Testi's recipe, but classically they are simply marinated in olive oil, paprika, oregano and salt then chargrilled.
I also spotted chopped Albanian pan fried lambs liver on the menu which sounds excellent too, and they even do takeaway so you can take your offal home.
Kidneys at Olivocarne
Olivocarne restaurant in Belgravia showcases amazing quality authentic Sardinian fare.
The Sards were historically a poor people who have always foraged for ingredients and made the most of all around them. The Sardinian table would be supplemented with foraged nettles, juniper berries, bay leaves mint and sage, as well as the distinctive myrtle leaves which are used in stocks and marinades and to scent roasted meats, especially the succulent suckling pig.
It also is the foundation of the local liqueur Mirto.
Wild game is still hunted in the traditional way and they eat a large amount of seafood on the coast. (St Pietro Island is the last place in the world fishing in this way and they run an amazing tuna festival).
This unique event is known simply as the “Girotonno" (the turn of the tuna) but the story behind it is huge and fascinating.
The two standout offal dish on the menu for me are the chicken livers sauteed with balsamic vinegar and pancetta, and the chargrilled calves' liver.
Absolutely authentic and a masterclass in how to elevate offal.
Sauteed Chicken liver
St John Restaurant is a highly acclaimed English institution and is a temple to offal.
They celebrate nose to tail dining which is a great way to tackle food waste and this restaurant just shows how well it can be done.
Suitably based in a former bacon smoke-house, they often feature pigs ears, trotters and even tail.
At the moment they have two delicious items on the menu that caught my eye.
Grilled lamb's heart with turnips and anchovy, and roast bone marrow with turnips and anchovy. OK, so bone marrow is not really offal but it's so good I just had to include it....
I can't think of anywhere better to celebrate the nose to tail eating ethos.
Photo by Elliot Sheppard courtesy of St John Restaurants