homecooking: Chicken Tsukune Nikomi Udon, Hobo Nizakana and Nanohana (鶏つくね煮込みほうとううどん、ほうぼう煮魚、花菜)
Chicken Tsukune Nikomi Udon: Udon, Japanese-style chicken meatballs and vegetables simmered in chicken stock-miso soup
Hobo Nizakana: Red Gurnard Simmered in Sweet Shoyu-sake Broth
Nanohana: Lightly Steamed Rape Blossoms with Sesame Sauce
This is a wonderful, late winter dinner that starts with a rich, bone warming hearty soup. Second an slightly uncommon little red fish simmered in sweetened shoyu broth. And ends with fresh, lightly steamed greens announcing the coming of Spring. We enjoyed this seasonal dinner with a high powered, unfiltered, unpasteurized, undiluted sake from Kitagawa Honke Sake Brewery.
The Ingredients for Udon
Broth, nama-udon (fresh udon noodles for simmering), chicken meatballs, veggies (carrots, daikon radish and negi – scallions) and some miso for final flavoring.
Chicken Soup Stock
Peko bought some 50 yen chicken carcasses and broiled and boiled them for our soup stock. Yummy!
‘Nama’ Udon Being Added to the Soup
After the veggies have cooked for about 15 minutes Paku added the nama, or fresh udon. It is not dried, just like ‘fresh pasta’. This very wide udon is for simmering, nikomi (煮込み) in soup. It has not been boiled prior to adding to the soup. Usually, for Japanese noodle dishes the noodles are boiled separately and added to the soup just before being eaten. This is the case for soba, ramen and most udon noodles, the exception being nikomi udon. The miso has not yet been added.
Last Step: Add the Miso and Negi (scallions)
Finally, add the miso and scallions. At this point about half of the soup stock of the had been absorbed by the udon. Yummy!
Chicken Tsukune Nikomi Udon
Healthy and hearty.
Hobo (Red Gurnard)
We hadn’t heard of this fish, the hobo (ほうぼう、魴) before but apparently it is not uncommon. The Red Gurnard is a tasty fish. We affectionately named this one ‘The Dude’. Paku thought that the dude was really cute, even cuter than Peko! In Japan, large ones (40cm+) are especially sought after for sashimi and command high prices. Smaller ones (20-30cm) are used for nizakana, (fish simmered in broth).
Place in a sauce pan, then add the broth ingredients.
Nizakana: Simmering the Fish
Water, cooking sake, mirin, shoyu and sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Super delicious.
Hobo Nizakana Served
Serve in the broth.
Nanohana, or in Kyoto, Hanana – Rape Blossoms
This late winter green is a very well loved veggie in Japan and Kyoto. Claimed by some as a Kyo-yasai (Kyoto vegetable). A little later in the spring nanohana will have dainty yellow blossoms. We love it steamed or blanched and served with sesame based sauce. Nanohana-zuke (lightly pickled in salt Nanohana) is a popular spring pickle.
A Fine Dinner Served with Fine Sake
We enjoyed this dinner with Muroka Nama-genshu (無濾過生原酒) from Kitagawa Honke Sake Brewery (Part 1) that I picked up on a recent visit. This unfiltered (muroka) sake is both namazake and genshu, unpasteurized and undiluted with water. This uncontrived, high-powered sake is straight out of the vat — this is my kind of brew!! (Peko)
How to Prepare?
We think that it would be difficult to prepare the udon dish outside of Japan. So we did not detail the ingredients. If you are reading this blog, you can probably figure it out just from the photos.
If you can get dried, nikomi udon in your county, you can probably pull this one off. The chicken meatballs are just ground chicken, often flavored with some onion, scallion and a little garlic. Sometimes katakuriko is added, even finely cubed konyaku or nagaimo. (Peko says NO katakuriko, as it makes the meatballs too rubbery.)
Paku decided to do a nizakana series and will detail how to make various nizakana dishes — Peko can’t wait!!
Any questions? Let us know!