I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. Why? There isn’t one thing, it is a mixture of the culture, the food and the dramatic scenery. I’ve been obsessed with Japanese culture forever. I don’t know where I got this obsession, was it from watching Japanese films? Was it from being taken out to Japanese restaurants by friends? Was is from my cousin’s obsession with manga comics? Was it just looking endlessly at pictures of the country as I plan my perfect getaway? I don’t know. But whatever it was, I want to go there.
But I can’t. Not yet. I’ve had my holiday this year, and that was back home because my sister was getting married. So, my plan of getting heading off to Tokyo; to sample the food and drink; to catch a bullet train; to see mount Fuji and all the rest of this list has to be put on hold for a year.
However, in the meantime I will just have to eat Japanese food. A lot of it. And now it is winter I’m particularly keen on Tori Chanko Nabe; the traditional stew that Sumo wrestlers eat. I don’t eat the ten bowls a day that they do, but I have been having it about once a week. And it really is good. Wholesome, healthy, filling and sustaining. Go on, try some. Oh and check out this video to find out more about it. It’s one of a whole series about Japanese food culture – they’re really interesting. Plus they focus on the concept of Ichigo Ichie, which apparantly literally means “one opportunity, one encounter” so is something like our carpe diem or “sieze the day”. Something that as a mother, I really believe in, because time passes so very fast, and you can never catch those golden moments again.
And my plans… Well I start with the flight. If I am going to Japan I had better fly Japanese and get onto an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight. Why? Well because they are proudly Japanese – they offer Japanese hospitality and you get Japanese food on board (and I see they focus on different prefectures every three months, so I had better plan to fly there and back at a time they change over, to really get the variety they offer).
ANA also have their “meal election every year” during which they invite their Facebook and Twitter followers to vote for their favourite dish, which they then provide – Guess who is going to be voting early and voting often.
Then where to go? What to do? I really don’t know. Everyone I talk to has their own idea of what I should see – and that idea seems great. But I will have a limit – I can’t see everything. Any comments folks? Any help? Any plans for an itinerary for me?
Here is how to make on Tori Chanko Nabe, Chicken Sumo Stew, I hope you try it and if you do please share your images with me on Instagram. I would love to see them.
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Chicken Sumo Stew – Tori Chanko nabe
- 300 g chicken thighs
- ¼ Chinese cabbage
- 1 medium carrot
- 6 spring onions
- 4 shiitake mushrooms
- 125 g fried tofu
- 75 g tofu
- To prepare the chicken meatballs cut the spring onion and mix all ingredients together until the mixture becomes sticky
- To prepare the rest of stew cut the chicken thighs and half the fried tofu into bite-sized chunks
- Cut the Chinese cabbage (removing the leaves as these take less time to cook)
- Cut the spring onion diagonally into 4cm pieces
- Remove the stalks of the shiitake mushrooms
- Boil the fried tofu for a few seconds to remove oil and then cut into 8 pieces
- Cut the carrot diagonally into 3mm slices
- Add the diced chicken thighs, the water, cooking Sake, salt and soy sauce into a pot an bring to boil.
- Then using a spoon, drop in the mixed minced chicken to make the meat balls – and cook for 2-3 mins
- Add in the stalks of the Chinese cabbage and carrot and simmer for 5 mins. After 2 mins add in the Chinese cabbage leaves, spring onions, shiitake mushrooms, tofu and fried tofu, bring back to a simmer and simmer for 2-3 mins.
- Serve the stew and enjoy
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