‘Agitated’ Kidney Flowers

A simple-to-prepare dish from Peking which, when served side by side with ‘agitated’ prawns, gives an interesting contrast in texture and colour as well as flavour.

You must forgive me for introducing this rather unusual cooking method called ‘agitating’. The Chinese term is giang, which is hard to define. It can be loosely translated as ‘to excite’, and involves marinating the parboiled or deep-fried ingredients with highly flavoured seasonings such as vinegar, wine and ginger root. But I thought if you served ‘excited kidneys’ to your guests they might get the wrong idea, so I have used the term ‘agitated’ instead.

1 pair pork kidneys, about 1/2 lb (225 g)
2-3 slices fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly shredded
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp sesame seed oil


The colour of pork kidneys should be bright reddish brown; do not buy any that have turned dark purple or that do not smell fresh. First peel off the thin white skin covering the kidneys if the butcher has not already done so, then split them in half lengthways and discard the fat and the white, tough parts in the middle. Score the surface of the kidneys diagonally in a criss-cross pattern and then cut them into thin slices so that when cooked they will open up and resemble ears of corn – hence ‘kidney flowers’.

Parboil the kidneys in a pan of boiling water over high heat. Do not overcook: as soon as the water starts to reboil, quickly remove the kidneys and drain, then run cold water over them for a few seconds to prevent the kidneys getting too tough. Drain well and place them on a serving dish.

Now place the thinly shredded ginger root on the kidneys, then sprinkle the salt evenly all over the top, followed by the wine. Leave to marinate for a while, say 10-15 minutes. Add the sesame seed oil, mix and toss just before serving.

© Deh-Ta Hsiung and reproduced with his kind permission.