INGREDIENTS

1 daikon, cut into 1/2 rounds
1 carrot, cut itnto wedges
1 large bamboo shoot, sliced
6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked
1 cake of konnyaku, diced
6 sato imo, cut into rounds or large dice
1 lb boneless chicken thighs, diced

FOR SIMMERING

soy sauce
salt
sake
mirin
sugar
dashi

 

 

 

Iridori (chicken and simmered root vegetables)

This is a hearty medley of simmered chicken and root vegetables that is a required part of the traditional Oshogatsu New Years celebration. Although it isn't difficult to make, it takes time to make substantial quantities. I prefer to simmer each ingredient separately, so that each has its own flavor, but I wasn't able to write down my measurements this year, as I was making a gigantic quantity. Therefore, I'll merely state my method here, and hope the instructions are clear enough. I prefer a light taste (Kyoto style) while others may prefer more seasoning. Traditional osechi used a fair amount of sugar and salt in order to preserve the dish. I find that no matter how much I make, it's gobbled up quickly, so I go for natural flavor.

Cover carrot in a small pot with just enough water to cover. Season lightly with sugar, a touch of salt and sake. Simmer until tender to the bite, but not too soft. The color should still be bright and the texture should hold up to mixing with other ingredients without losing it's shape. Place cooked carrot on a large plate to cool, topping with a few tablespoons of simmering liquid. This flavor will be absorbed back into the carrots as they cool.

Simmer daikon in water to cover until transparent round the edges. Drain, reserving liquid, and simmer in dashi, soy sauce, sugar and sake until soft and translucent. The daikon should be a nice beige color and soft to the bite. Cool on a plate as above.

Simmer the bamboo shoots in the liquid from above, adding flavoring if necessary. When the simmering liquid gets low, add more dashi. Cool as above.

Simmer sato imo with the resulting liquid and cools as above.

Simmer shiitake mushrooms in the soaking liquid, taking care to strain off any debris. Season with dark soy sauce, sake and mirin. Cool as above, reserving simmering liquid.

Combine the simmering liquid from the vegetables and mushrooms and simmer the konnyaku until it soaks up the flavor. Cool as above. If done properly, you shouldn't have too much liquid left.

Finally, liberally salt the chicken and saute in vegetable oil, adding some of the simmering liquid if you desire.

Combine all ingredients and keep in cool location, or in the fridge. The large quentity I make doesn't fit in my fridege, so I keep it in a huge tupperware container in a cool part of the house, but the quantity at left should fit in your fridge.

Serve at room temperature in a communal bowl. The photo at left shows bout a quarter of the iridori I prepared this year, served in an antique grey shino serving hachi (bowl), garnished with kinome leaves. When arranging the bowl/platter, take care to show a good mix of color, placing the carrot wedges attractively around the dish.

Variation: The chicken can be omitted for an equally delicious dish.

Leftovers can be put into soup resembling kenchinjiru (the sato-imo is especially delicious in miso soup) or diced (without yama-imo) and cooked with any remaining simmering liquid to make takikomi gohan.

Serves 8-12