Chikuzenni is a classic Japanese dish often served on New Year’s Day, but I also find it in bentos from the Japanese market. This recipe is leaps and bounds better than what you find pre-made and it’s one of my favorite everyday dishes.
This particular chizukenni recipe came from my mom and is a homey braise of carrots, gobo, satoimo (Japanese taro), konnyaku, shiitake, and chicken. It’s cooked in dashi, sugar, sake, mirin, and shoyu and reduced until the liquid is concentrated and absorbed into all the ingredients. I know it sounds like a winter’s dish, but it’s actually great in warm weather, too. That’s because it can be made it advance (actually, it’s better after a day) and is great served at room temperature. Pack it on a picnic with some musubi and tsukemono! Yum!
Japanese taro is hairy on the outside and has a firm white flesh on the inside. I’ve grown to appreciate and love the texture—it has a slightly sliminess, like okra. I know the ingredients on this one are a little more difficult to find, but if you happen to have access, I highly recommend this recipe.
I recommend making this a day in advance so the flavors have a chance to develop and penetrate the ingredients. The day of, simmer until heated through and eat, or let sit until room temperature before eating.
2–3 large satoimo (about 9 oz or 250 g), peeled and halved
1/4 large gobo (about 2.5 oz. or 75 g), peeled and cut on the diagonal
1 carrot (about 3.5 oz. or 100 g), peeled and cut into rangiri
3 shiitake mushrooms, stems pulled off and halved
1/2 chicken thigh (about 5.25 oz. or 150 g), cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 konnyaku, massaged w/ salt, rinsed, & cut into small pieces w/ the edge of a glass
1/4 Tbsp. oil
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. sake
1 1/2 Tbsp. mirin
1 1/2 Tbsp. shoyu
3/4 cups (200ml) dashi
Cut a piece of parchment to the size of the pan you’ll be using.
Place the gobo in a pot and fill with water until just covered. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 2 mins. Drain and set aside.
In a pan, heat oil over medium. Add the chicken and cook on both sides until no longer pink. Add the gobo, carrots, satoimo, and konnyaku and toss to coat with oil. Next, add the sugar and stir to combine. Turn the heat to high and add the sake, mirin, shoyu, and dashi. Tilt the pan around to mix the liquids together.
When it comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cover with the parchment paper. Cook for 20 mins., stirring once or twice. Remove the parchment paper and increase to high heat and jostle the pan to coat ingredients and cook for another 3–4 mins.