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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Kenchin-jiru (Vegetable and Meat Soup)

[From December Issue 2010]

Ingredients [Serves 2]

  • 1/2 block (150g) momen (cotton/firm) tofu
  • 40g chicken thigh meat
  • 2 dried shiitake mushroom
  • 50g daikon radish
  • 20g carrot
  • 1 mid-sized (80g) satoimo (taro) potato
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 5cm Japanese leek
  • Pinch of 7-flavor chili pepper

<Broth>

(A)

  • 1 tsp (powdered) Japanese soup stock
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/3 cup shiitake mushroom soaked water

(B)

  • 1 tbsp cooking sake
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/6 tsp salt

Kenchin: Originates from the Chinese dish of chopped vegetables wrapped in yuba (soy milk skin) and abura-age (deep fried tofu) cooked in oil. It is also said that “Kenchin” is a derivative of “Kencho-jiru” which originates from the “Kencho” temple in Kamakura.

  • Hyoushigi-giri: Cutting vegetables into rectangular bars. Used for boiled, dressed, vinegar-based dishes.
  • Hangetsu-giri: Cutting vegetables into semicircular (half-moon) slices when rings are too large. Used for boiled or soup dishes.

1. Soften dried shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in 1/2-cup of water (20~30 mins). Lightly squeeze out excess water and cut off stems, then slice thinly. Save soaking water for later use. Cut daikon radish and carrots into 3~4cm hyoushigi-giri pieces. Cut satoimo (taro) potatoes into round or semi-circular 5~6mm slices (hangetsu-giri).

2. Dice chicken thigh meat into 2cm pieces.

3. Gently wrap momen tofu in clean kitchen towel to drain any excess water.

4. Heat sesame oil in pan, then on high, stir-fry vegetables prepared in (1). Add diced chicken and cook. Add tofu and cook until the oil blends thoroughly with the other ingredients.

5. Add broth (A). Scrape the lightly burnt residue from the sides of the pot into the broth to add fragrance. Bring to a boil and remove the scum. Lower heat to medium, partially cover and then let cook for 12~13 minutes. Once the vegetables are soft, flavor with the broth (B).

6. To serve, first thinly slice the Japanese leeks. Then pour soup into a bowl and sprinkle the sliced leeks, along with the 7-flavor chili peppers over top.


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