Heirloom Recipes 04. Kenchinjiru by Akiko Kurematsu


Sustenance

05 - 10 - 21

Inspired by recipes that women in her lineage used to cook from, Akiko Kurematsu has created her own cookbook titled The Mother Tongue, in which she adapts each heirloom recipe to better suit how our current generation prefers to eat – more local, sustainable, and aware. Below, Akiko guides us through the preparation of Kenchinjiru: a warming, nourishing winter soup that is at the heart of Japanese home cooking.

Ingredients

Dashi
Konbu, 1 piece 10x10cm
Water, 5 cups
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, 3 pieces
Water, 3 cups


Alternative Dashi
8 cups shiitake mushroom or konbu dashi stock from pre-made powder or liquid sold at Japan Mart or your local Asian supermarket, follow directions on the packet.


Soup
Daikon radish, half
Carrot, 2 medium
Green Onions, 2 for soup + 1 for garnish
Tofu, 1
Fried tofu skin, handful
Sesame Oil, 1 tbsp for sauté
Tamari, 2 tbsp (adjust for taste)
Miso, 5 tbsp (optional, adjust for taste)


"Kenchinjiru is said to have originated at the Kenchōji Temple in Kamakura, as part of shōjin ryōri, a sophisticated vegan cuisine followed by Buddhist monks. I grew up eating tonjiru, a very similar dish that uses pork to give the soup a rich and hearty flavor. This kenchinjiru recipe follows the same steps as tonjiru, but using warming root vegetables like daikon, carrot, and if available in your region, gobo (burdock root) and satoimo (taro). From the konbu and shiitake mushroom dashi to the use of tamari, this recipe is the ultimate self-care - gentle on the palate, kind to the body."

METHOD

The konbu and shiitake mushrooms benefit from a slow soak in water. The night before, gently wipe the konbu with a clean cloth, without rubbing off the white powder on the surface of the konbu. Make a few incisions on the konbu, which will help it release flavor, and soak in a pot of water. Lightly brush the dried shiitake mushrooms and soak in a pot of water. The two pots should stay in the fridge overnight.

Chop the vegetables, tofu, and mushrooms so that they are all approximately the same size. The daikon and carrots should be cut in fan or half-moon shape. The green onions should be cut in bite-sized lengths. Using your hands, tear the tofu and tofu skin so they are also bite-sized. Remove the mushrooms from the dashi, cut off the tip of the stem, then slice.

Heat the pot with konbu on medium low heat for about 5-10 minutes, and remove the konbu just before the water boils when you see small bubbles rising from the bottom of the pot. Set aside. Strain the mushroom dashi through a paper towel so the dashi is free of particles, set aside.

Sauté the vegetables in sesame oil for 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms, tofu and tofu skin until all ingredients are coated in the oil. Add the konbu dashi and the shiitake dashi and bring the soup to a boil. Turn down to simmer the pot until the vegetables are cooked through but not falling apart. Add the tamari.

Before serving, add in the miso and taste. Every miso is different, so use your judgement here to adjust with tamari and miso to finish the dish – you are looking for a gentle but rich, savory flavor. Garnish with chopped green onions. To make it a meal, add brown rice and a few pickled veg on the side.

Sans Journal

Ingredients

Dashi
Konbu, 1 piece 10x10cm
Water, 5 cups
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, 3 pieces
Water, 3 cups


Alternative Dashi
8 cups shiitake mushroom or konbu dashi stock from pre-made powder or liquid sold at Japan Mart or your local Asian supermarket, follow directions on the packet.


Soup
Daikon radish, half
Carrot, 2 medium
Green Onions, 2 for soup + 1 for garnish
Tofu, 1
Fried tofu skin, handful
Sesame Oil, 1 tbsp for sauté
Tamari, 2 tbsp (adjust for taste)
Miso, 5 tbsp (optional, adjust for taste)


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