Chikuzenni (筑前煮) or Nishime (煮しめ) is a classic Japanese dish often served on New Year’s Day, but my mom used to make it quite regularly because it was my family’s favorite Nimono (it means “simmered dish” like Nikujaga). This is also a popular side dish for bento because it can be made in advance and still tastes great at room temperature.
Chikuzenni was named after the old Chikuzen Province in Northern Kyushu (it’s part of today’s Fukuoka Prefecture); but this dish is now enjoyed throughout Japan.
Typically chicken and root vegetables are first sautéd in oil, and then they are simmered in dashi stock and seasonings until vegetables are tender and the flavors are absorbed.
For New Year’s dish, the vegetables and konnyaku are cut into fancy shapes to celebrate the occasion but for daily use or bento, you can simply cut them into small pieces using Japanese cutting technique called “Rangiri“.
Rangiri style cutting is to roll the vegetable a quarter (1/4) turn, cut on an angle, and then roll again another quarter (1/4) turn, cut on an angle and continue. This cutting technique is useful for Japanese Nimono dishes.
Hope you enjoy this dish with your family!
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- ¾ lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
- ½ Tbsp. sake
- ½ Tbsp. soy sauce
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 large lotus root
- ½ boiled bamboo shoot
- 5 Japanese taro (satoimo)
- ½ burdock root (gobo)
- 1 carrot (I use top half of 2 carrots)
- ½ – 1 block konnyaku
- 10 snow peas
- Rice vinegar for soaking
- 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 cups dashi stock
- 3 Tbsp. sake
- 3 Tbsp. mirin
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. Usukuchi (light colored) soy sauce (or use 2 Tbsp. soy sauce + ⅛ tsp. salt)
- ½ tsp. salt
- Remove extra fat of the chicken and cut into 1½ inch pieces. Marinade in ½ Tbps. sake and ½ Tbsp. soy sauce and set aside.
- In a small bowl, put dried shiitake mushrooms and pour just enough lukewarm water to cover them. Soak for 20 minutes, or until soft. Squeeze the liquid out from the shiitake mushrooms and keep this liquid.
- Cut the shiitake mushrooms into hexagon, which represent turtle shape for longevity.
- Cut the lotus root into Hana Renkon. Soak them in vinegar water (2 cups water + 1 tsp. vinegar).
- Cut the bamboo shoot in half and thinly slice.
- Peel the taro and cut in half and sprinkle some salt.
- Rub the taro with hands and wash them in running water.
- Scrape the skin off the burdock root with the back of knife. After rinsing, cut it into thin slices. Quickly soak them in vinegar water (2 cups water + 1 tsp. vinegar).
- Cut the carrot into Nejiri Ume. Blanch half of them for 2 minutes and reserve for decoration.
- Cut the konnyaku into Tazuna Konnyaku.
- Pull the strings at the seams of the snow peas and discard them. These are tough and not edible. Boil water in a saucepan over high heat. Add pinch of salt and blanch the snow pea pods for 30-60 seconds, until crisp but tender enough to eat.
- Instead of draining, scoop the snow peas with a sieve, then shock in cold running water and set aside. In the same boiling water, add konnyaku. After boiling again, cook for 2-3 minutes to remove the smell.
- Cut the blanched snow peas in half and set aside.
- In the large pot, heat 1 Tbsp. of sesame oil over medium high heat. When it’s hot, cook the chicken until it turns white. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Add 1 Tbsp. of sesame oil and cook all the ingredients except the blanched snow peas and carrots that are reserved for decoration.
- Add dashi stock and shiitake mushroom liquid.
- Bring it to a boil. Skim off the fat and scum that accumulates on the surface.
- Add sake, mirin, sugar, soy sauce, and salt.
- Add the chicken back into the pot.
- Bring it to a boil. As you see, the stock should cover about 80% of the ingredients.
- Make Otoshibuta and cover the ingredients. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove Otoshibuta and cook for another 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings (with soy sauce, sugar, or salt) to your liking.
- Add the snow peas and remove from the heat. Cover, and let cool. Serve Chikuzenni in a dish or traditional Japanese lacquer container, “Ju-bako”. Top with the snow peas and blanched carrots.