Japanese Cooking 101

My husband has been making different Japanese recipes. We found an Asian Market that has a good selection and great prices. His first dish was tsukune. They are chicken dumplings which he stewed. At first I wasn’t if I liked them. They were very different from anything that I have had before but I ended up really liking them. The best way to describe them is like eating sausage but it’s not quite the same. Here is the recipe and the link as well.

Basic chicken tsukune recipe

Where I live, I can’t normally get ground chicken, which is a standard item in Japanese supermarkets. But that’s ok, since I’d rather grind my own chicken anyway. I use skinned and boneless chicken thighs, which have enough fat to keep the tsukune moist. If you have a food processor, this is a breeze to make; if not, you will have to buy ground chicken or get a butcher to grind it up for you.
This amount will make about 24 small dumplings, 10 mini-burgers, or a combination. (I usually make 6 mini-burgers and make the rest into dumplings.)

  • 450g / 1 lb boned and skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 4 Tbs. grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)
  • 1/2 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg yolk + half an egg white (strain off a bit of the egg white)
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch or potato starch

Put the chicken thighs in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to ground coarsely. Add the rest of the ingredients, and process until a smooth paste is formed. You may need to scrape down the bowl a couple of times.

Stewed tsukune dumplings with carrots

For the broth:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. sake
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. mirin (or use 3 Tbs. sweet sherry and a pinch of sugar)
  • 2 Tbs. dark soy sauce
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into small pieces

Put everything in a small pan and bring to a boil. Using two teaspoons, form the tsukune mixture into small balls (they’ll be sort of rugby ball (American football) shaped, like quenelles) and drop them into the broth. Wetting or oiling the spoons will make the tsukune mixture less sticky. As you can see, the dough is a bright orange-pink color from the carrot and dark meat.

Just let it boil away until the carrots are cooked through, about 15 minutes, stirring carefully a few times. To pack in a bento box, strain off the broth, then drizzle just a bit of it on top.
Stewed tsukune keeps, well covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. They also freeze nicely, with a bit of the broth. Just defrost them in the microwave.

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