Monday, September 8, 2014

Kenjin-Jiru (Japanese Chicken Vegetable Soup)

This recipe leaves a lot of room for variation, as you can see. It might sound hard to make, but it's not. It's easy and quick; it just takes a bit of chopping.


1 liter of water
½ stick konbu dashi (4 gm) + 1 chicken bouillon cube OR 3 chicken bouillon cubes

Any combination of the following, or all of the following in smaller amounts:

2 inches burdock root (gobo) (peel, cut & soak in water for 5 minutes before adding)
1½ inches Japanese daikon radish (peel and cut into small cubes)
½ carrot (peel and cut into small bite-sized pieces)
½ Satsuma-imo (Satsuma sweet potato - washed well and cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 small potato (washed well and cut into bite-sized pieces)
3-4 small Japanese turnips (washed and cut in half or quarters, depending on their size)
About ½ cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced or whole (if they're small)
(1-2 cloves fresh garlic)

1 chicken thigh or 1 breast (remove skin and fat and cut into bite-sized pieces)
½ inch thinly sliced ginger root
100 grams minced chicken mixed with ¼ t sesame oil, finely grated ginger (oroshi), and 1 T chopped negi (green onions), then made into small meatballs. You can add ¼ t cornstarch to hold them together if you want, or a tiny bit of an egg. (I usually don't bother.)

1-2 pieces of Atsu-age (packaged fried tofu) - rinsed and cut into bite-sized pieces 
¼-½ block firm tofu - rinsed, drained, and cut into bite-sized pieces
Or a little of both

1 package tied, thread type konnyaku OR block konnyaku, cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 green onions (thinly sliced) OR thinly sliced long onions
Usukuchi soy sauce (light soy sauce)
Cooking sake
  1. Put water into a large pot. Place on a high fire on the stove.
  2. Add dashi, ginger and/or garlic (if you're adding it).
  3. Chop and add the burdock, daikon, carrot, Satsuma-imo, potato, and chicken. As you finish chopping the ingredients one-by-one down the list, add them to the pot. Turn down the fire to keep the soup at an even, low boil. 
  4. The konnyaku should be blanched before it is added. To do this, rinse it and then put it in a small pot of water. Bring to a boil and turn it off. Set aside. (Many people don't bother with this step. I just rinse the tied-string type konnyaku before adding it. It's important to blanch it if you're using block konnyaku, though.)
  5. When the vegetables and chicken are cooked, add the drained konnyaku and atsu-age or tofu and continue cooking.
  6. If there is any froth on the top of the soup, skim that off and throw it away.
  7. Add 2-3 T usukuchi soy sauce and 2 T cooking sake. Add more of these to adjust the flavor to your liking.  
  8. Place chopped green onions in deep bowls. Ladle in the soup. 
This keeps well in the fridge, and leftovers make for a great winter lunch.

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