Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce かぶのそぼろあんかけ

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  • Simmered in dashi broth, Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce is a winter comfort food that highlights the flavors of the season. It makes a delicious, nourishing side to complement your Japanese meal. 

    A beautiful Japanese bowl containing simmered Japanese turnips sitting on the thick minced chicken sauce.

    As the weather begins to cool, I am seeing beautiful, ivory-colored Japanese turnips appearing at my local farmers’ market. This globular seasonal vegetable lends itself to many classic presentations in Japanese home cooking, which I am really excited to cook with. Today’s recipe, Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce (かぶのそぼろあんかけ) is a homey dish that illustrates a taste of winter.

    Here, you’ll see a unique Japanese preparation where the turnips are first simmered and then served in a savory meat sauce. The dish is presented as if the turnips are rooted in the soil, reminding us of nature’s bounty. It is a delightful side that my family enjoys during this time of year. I hope you’d give it a try too!

    A beautiful Japanese bowl containing simmered Japanese turnips sitting on the thick minced chicken sauce.

    What are Japanese Turnips?

    Japanese turnips, also called Tokyo turnips, have a mild, fresh taste, with hints of nutty, sweet, earthy flavors. Named Kabu (かぶ) in Japanese, these they are a white variety of Japanese turnip (see all the varieties here).

    The golf ball-sized turnips can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. When served raw, you can feature them in cool side dishes. For example, in salads with crisp lettuce. They’re also great pickled.

    When simmered or cooked in soup or stew, they become tender, buttery, and slightly spicy and taste like a cross between a radish and turnip.

    Typically, Japanese turnips are sold with the bright leafy greens attached on top. They are edible and nutritious and can be prepared just like any other greens. I always use them to make Furikake rice seasonings (swap the daikon leaves with turnip leaves in this recipe) or simply add in miso soup. The crisp stems of turnip greens have a crisp texture and add vibrant color to the soup.

    They are becoming popular with local growers in the US, so you should be able to find Japanese turnips at your farmer’s market, co-ops or select Whole Foods markets.

    What Can I Substitute for Japanese Turnips?

    Can’t find Japanese turnips locally? No worries! You can use other turnips or daikon radishes to make this dish. However, they’re not as sweet as Japanese turnips, so the taste is slightly different.

    Chopsticks trying to pick up a simmered Japanese turnip.

    3 Easy Steps to Make This Dish

    1. Simmer turnips in a savory dashi broth

    Turnips are gently simmered in a golden dashi broth to absorb all the wonderful, umami-rich flavors.

    2. Cook ground chicken in a sweet soy sauce

    While simmering turnips, you would cook the ground chicken in a separate pan. This seasoned ground chicken dish is called Soboro in Japanese, and you may see this dish used in Soboro Donburi.

    If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can skip the chicken or swap it with firm tofu. If you skip, combine the Soboro Seasonings and Slurry together and add into the broth.

    3. Put everything together and make a thick savory sauce

    When the turnips are tender, you add the Soboro into the dashi broth. Finally, add the slurry to the broth, which makes a delicious, thicker, richer, and more luxurious sauce.

    A beautiful Japanese bowl containing simmered Japanese turnips sitting on the thick minced chicken sauce.

    3 Tips Before Cooking This Recipe

    1. Get the same size turnips

    The size of the turnips doesn’t matter. If you can find smaller ones than mine, your cooking time will be less. If you get bigger turnips, you will need to be patient and cook a little longer.

    However, it’s important to choose similar size turnips so they will be done cooking at the same time.

    2. Cut off the bottom of the turnips

    By cutting off the bottom of the turnips, they will stand up straight while being simmered. Plus, you can prevent the stalks from getting overcooked. When you serve, turnips will look great standing on its own.

    3. Simmer turnips for 5 minutes before adding seasonings

    Give the turnips a headstart by simmering them first before seasoning. This way, tender turnips will absorb the flavors faster and easier.

    A beautiful Japanese bowl containing simmered Japanese turnips sitting on the thick minced chicken sauce.

    Serve this Japanese turnip with Soboro Ankake Sauce as a side in a typical Japanese meal, with steamed rice, grilled or pan-fried fish, miso soup and 1-2 more side dishes. You’d have a simple yet elegant dinner with true Japanese flair.

    Other Delicious Japanese Turnip Recipes You Should Try

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    A beautiful Japanese bowl containing simmered Japanese turnips sitting on the thick minced chicken sauce.
    Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    45 mins
     

    Simmered in dashi broth, Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce is a winter comfort food that highlights the flavors of the season. It makes a delicious, nourishing side to complement your Japanese meal. 

    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: chicken, turnip
    Servings: 4
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    • 8 Japanese Turnips (kabu) (try to find same-size turnips so the cooking time will be the same)
    • 6 oz ground chicken (170 g ; for vegetarian/Vegan option, see Notes)
    • ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
    Broth
    • 2 cups dashi (480 ml; use Kombu dashi for vegetarian/vegan)
    • 1 Tbsp sugar
    • ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
    Soboro Seasonings
    Slurry
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce Ingredients
    To Prepare Turnips
    1. Cut off the leafy green tops from the turnips. For presentation, I left just ½ inch of the stalks attached to the turnips. Use the leafy tops for making a side dish or adding in miso soup.

      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 1
    2. Rinse the turnips well, especially the stalks.

      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 2
    3. Cut off the bottom of the turnips so they will stand upright. Then remove the turnip’s skin, peeling from the bottom to the top.

      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 3
    4. The turnips should look like this.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 4
    To Cook Turnips
    1. In a medium saucepan, add dashi and bring it to boil over medium heat.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 5
    2. Add the turnips, cover with the lid and bring it to a boil again. Simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes and add sugar.

      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 6
    3. Add a little ¼ tsp salt and cover with lid. Continue to simmer on medium-low heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 7
    To Make Soboro
    1. In the meantime, add sake, sugar, and soy sauce in a large frying pan. Combine the sauce well.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 8
    2. Add the ground chicken and start cooking on medium heat.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 9
    3. Using a pair of long cooking chopsticks or wooden spatula, break the ground chicken into small pieces. Once the chicken is no longer pink and the sauce has reduced, turn off the heat and set aside.

      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 10
    To Assemble
    1. When the wooden skewer goes into the turnip smoothly, turnips are tender and ready.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 11
    2. Add the seasoned ground chicken into the broth.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 12
    3. Mix well and taste the broth. Adjust the taste with salt if necessary.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 13
    4. To make a slurry, in a small bowl, add potato starch/cornstarch and water and whisk well to combine.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 14
    5. Reduce the heat of the broth and gradually add the slurry to the broth and mix well to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add more water. If too watery, let the liquid evaporate a bit more (or you can make more slurry and add to the broth).
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 15
    6. Serve the turnips, broth, and ground chicken on a plate/bowl.
      Japanese Turnips with Soboro Ankake Sauce 16
    Recipe Notes

    If you're vegetarian or vegan, you can skip the chicken or swap it with firm tofu. If you skip, combine the Soboro Seasonings and Slurry together and add into the broth.

     

    Kombu Dashi recipe is can be found here.

     

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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