Sambal Goreng Hati (liver)

I love liver. That doesn’t apply to everyone, but this recipe for sambal goreng hati is truly ‘finger-licking’ delicious. The little bit of santen (coconut cream) reduces the heat of the peppers, so for a hot version double the amount of sambal in this recipe.

Sambal goreng hati (liver) #54 translated from Beb Vuyk’s Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 80.


  • 1/4 kg of liver, any kind
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped onions
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sambal terasi (or 1 teaspoon sambal ulek and 1/2 teaspoon terasi)
  • 1 teaspoon of galangal
  • 1 dl asem water made from a piece of asem the size of a walnut (tamarind)
  • 1 teaspoon of Javanese sugar
  • 1 stalk sereh (lemongrass)
  • 1 salam leaf (Asian bay leaf)
  • 1/8 block of santen (coconut cream)
  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • salt
  1. Cut the liver into cubes of about 2 cm.
  2. Cook them in the oil until light brown.
  3. Meanwhile, grind onions, garlic, sambal, galangal, sugar and salt together into a paste.
  4. When the liver has cooked for five or six minutes, add the herbs and saute this.
  5. Add the asem water, the block of santen, the sereh and the salam leaf.
  6. Let this simmer for another 5 to 6 minutes. Liver that has been cooked too long will become leathery.
  7. Remove the lemongrass and salam before serving.

I use chicken livers because I like chicken liver a lot and they are easy to get. Since I still have some small lemongrasses left, I use two. I also double the salam leaf. Salam is delicious and goes well with liver. I have galangal “fresh” from the freezer. I use about half a little finger as an amount.

I start by rubbing the bumbu in my mortar. Beb immediately says to cook the livers, but I don’t want them to sit in the pan for too long. Chicken livers tend to turn dry quickly.

I make sure that the bumbu is well rubbed. I don’t have sambal trassi (shrimp paste) right now, so I add 1 chili pepper with half a teaspoon of trassi. I first cut my piece of galangal well. I think 1 teaspoon of salt is enough for the entire dish. I add the salt to the bumbu because it drains the moisture from the peppers and onions and makes grinding easier.

Now that the bumbu is ready, I cook the chicken livers over medium heat in two tablespoons of oil. The outside can be seared for a while, but the livers do not need to be fully cooked yet. This takes less time for me than in Beb’s recipe: I fry my livers for about 4 minutes before adding the bumbu.

Now I turn up the heat down a bit and mix the livers carefully together with the bumbu. I add 1 dl of water mixed with asem (tamarind).

I add the santen, the lemongrass and the salam leaf. You can see that the livers are not yet cooked, which is fine, because now everything can simmer in the delicious santen stock.

I let this simmer for at least 5 minutes or until livers are done. The sauce thickens a bit too. We eat our sambal goreng hati with white rice and an acar.

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