Ingredients for 4 Servings
Chicken thigh (鶏もも肉 / Tori-no-momoniku) 1
Dried shīhtake (干ししいたけ / Hoshi shīhtake) 4
Kon-nyaku (こんにゃく / Kon-nyaku) 1/2 block
Burdock root (ごぼう / Gobōh) 1/2 (about 75 g)
Lotus root (れんこん / Renkon) 1 nodule (about 150 g)
Carrot (にんじん / Ninjin) 1/2 (100 g)
Snow peas (絹さや / Kinu saya) 6
Ginger (しょうが / Shōga) 1 tbsp
How to Make
1. Rehydrate the dried shīhtake by placing it in 200 ml of water, together with the konbu. Once the shīhtake softens, remove it from the water, and save the water. Holding a knife with the blade leaning at a 45° angle, cut the shīhtake into quarters. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.
2. Use the carrot to make plum shapes (See the directions below.) Scrape the skin off of the burdock root. Cut the root into 1-cm wide diagonals and put these into a bowl of water. Skin the lotus root and cut it into half-rounds or quarter-rounds and place these into a bowl of water with a teaspoon or so of vinegar. This will preserve the color of the lotus root and remove off flavors.
3. Cut the kon-nyaku into 1-cm slabs. Make a slit down the center of each slab, but do not cut completely through the kon-nyaku on either end of the slit. Make tazuna kon-nyaku by opening the slit and then pulling one end of the kon-nyaku through the slit. This should form the two long sides of each kon-nyaku slab into a spiral. (You can see a video of how to do this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeOTxD4Bi-I.
Diagrams are available at http://www.daiei.co.jp/food/dictionary/sonota_tadunakonnyaku.html.)
4. Parboil the snow peas and remove them to a bowl of cold water. Cut each in half diagonally.
5. Add the sesame oil to a medium-to-large-size pot and place the pot on medium heat. Add the chicken. Once the chicken whitens, add the burdock root, lotus root, kon-nyaku, and dried shīhtake, and continue to cook until everything softens.
6. Add the water (and konbu) used to rehydrate the shīhtake, together with the amazake and carrots. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes, skimming off any foam that develops. Next, add the soy sauce, cover the pot again and continue simmering until the liquid is reduced to a depth of about 1 cm then turn off the heat.
7. Let the pot sit covered for at least 10 minutes. Serve with the snow peas as a garnish.
How to Make Carrot Plum Blossoms
Cut the carrot into rounds about 1.5 cm thick. Use a plum-shaped punch to cut out the basic blossom shapes.
Now give each petal a more three-dimensional appearance. Do this by using the knife to cut from the surface of the blossom diagonally downward to a radial cut. Start about a quarter of the way into each petal width and cut diagonally downward through the remaining three quarters of the petal width to the next radial cut. Do this for each petal. Round off the edges of the petals to give them a smoother appearance.
Notes on Iridori
Iridori (いり鶏 or炒り鶏) is a type of simmered dish. Simmered dishes are typically made by simply simmering vegetables and other ingredients in a stock with soy sauce, mirin, sake, and other seasonings. Iridori, though, is different because chicken is first fried and then simmered together with other ingredients. Iridori is also called chikuzen-ni (筑前煮) owing to its roots as a local dish from Chikuzen, the ancient name for the area now comprised of the northern and western parts of Fukuoka Prefecture. Iridori is now not only an everyday dish but also a common element in traditional New Year’s Day meals. Unlike many other dishes prepared for osechi ryōri, however, it does not bear any particular symbolism for the occasion.
Recipe Developed by Machiko Tateno