Simmered Chicken and Vegetables (Chikuzen-ni/Game-ni) がめ煮

Simmered Chicken and Vegetables or Chikuzenni is a type of Nimono that widely popular in Japanese households, especially in the New Year. This originated in the Fukoaka Prefecture and was formerly known as game-ni (がめ煮) from the phrase “Game kuri komu”, which means “to collect”, because of how the ingredients were gathered and cooked together. (Wikipedia, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chikuzenni)

I first encountered this dish because of a Japanese TV series called Otomen (http://asianwiki.com/Otomen). In one of the episodes, Ryo, the main female character wanted to cook for her father’s birthday. This was a dish that her late mother made which her father really liked. Asuka (the main male character who liked her) then taught the dish to her. He used chicken with bones still on them, as opposed to the more popular version where they used chicken fillets. Thus it is the original way of preparing it in the Fukuoka prefecture, where Ryo’s father came from. It was such a lovely, light episode that the dish stuck with me. 5 years later, I attempted to make this dish twice.

This dish is simple, clean tasting but satisfying, and is great for cold or rainy weather–but can be eaten as a summer dish, if served in a bento box or a side dish at room temperature. Altho a good number of ingredients may not be available if an asian/Japanese market isn’t accessible, I will share substitutes that can be used for the dish.

Chikuzenni/Game-ni (がめ煮)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients (when all ingredients are available)

  • 350g of chicken thigh fillets. If you want the bone in version, use about 600g of chicken legs and thighs, cut thighs into smaller halves.
  • 1 burdock root, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 japanese taro cut into small round pieces
  • 6-8 shitake mushrooms (rehydrate in hot water for 20 minutes if dried)
  • 1 pack konyaku yam cake (optional)
  • 1 lotus root, peeled and sliced
  • 1 carrot cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 boiled bamboo shoot (optional)
  • A handful of snow peas (blanched)
  • 3 cups Dashi soup stock (from 2 dashi teabags, or powdered dashi)
  • 3 tbsp sake (use rice wine if not available)
  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil

Substitutes:

  • Burdock root, – parsnips, or jerusalem artichokes/sunroot
  • Lotus root – water chestnuts
  • Japanese taro – regular taro
  • Bamboo shoots are optional as not everyone likes this taste. I left it out in mine because most of my family don’t like it.
  • Dashi – none, best would be fish sauce and dark soy sauce.

Instructions for prep and cooking:

1. Trim the excess skin and fat from the chicken and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. If you’re using chicken with bones, cut the thigh pieces in halves and trim excess fat and skin.

2. Cut all the vegetables into 1 inch pieces. Alternatively, you may choose to prepare it in a fancier way (will only work for chicken fillets). Justonecookbook has detailed instructions on prepping it for New Year (https://www.justonecookbook.com/chikuzenni-simmered-chicken-and-vegetables/)

3. In a large pot, heat vegetable oil and 1 tbsp sesame oil. Once hot, cook the chicken until it is white. Set aside.

4. Keep the same pot hot and add the remaining sesame oil, and saute all the vegetables in except the blanched snowpeas.

5. Add the dashi soup stock, (or 2 cups water, 1/8 cup dashi powder, or 2 cups water, 2 dashi teabags). Bring to a boil. Make sure to skim any scum that comes to the top of the surface.

6. Add sake, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and salt. Adjust the salt taste accordingly.

7. Add chicken back and cook for another 25-30 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

8. Turn off the heat and top with snow peas and serve. You may also choose to serve this out of the pot. Enjoy!

Sources:

Wikipedia – origin of Game-ni/Chikuzenni https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chikuzenni

Recipe and preparation: based heavily on Just One cookbook, however, I’ve read a lot more recipes and adjusted this according to how I would like it.(https://www.justonecookbook.com/chikuzenni-simmered-chicken-and-vegetables/)

Otomen (Drama series, 2013) http://asianwiki.com/Otomen

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