Kamo no Jibuni: Duck Prepared in Kaga-style

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Jibuni is an unusual nabe (hot pot) dish among the many versions favored during winter in Japan. Ms. Shimbo’s family lived in Kanazawa city for a time. It’s where her mother learned to cook this dish. Kanazawa is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, which is located on the coast of the Sea of Japan in the Chuba Region. Ms. Shimbo notes that the city is sometimes called Little Kyoto because it is one of the most culturally refined cities in Japan. Its proximity to the Korean Pennisula and China enriched the city’s cuisine and led to the creation of many new dishes.

“朱の椀の両手に温きじぶ煮かな
shu no wan no ryoote ni atataki jibuni kana

a red laquer bowl
keeps both my hands warm …
aaa, this jibuni

Sakura Toshiko 桜敏子


One of Kanazawa’s signature dishes, Jibuni has been a traditional meal in Ishikawa for generations. In Japan, Jibuni is often prepared at the table while guests drink beer or sake and talk before serving themselves from the communal pot. This is somewhat similar to other hot-pot (nabe) style dishes, but the cooking method is somewhat unconventional even within Japan. Jibuni begins with a starch-battered duck that is chopped, bound, and steamed. This is then added to the seasoned bonito broth along with several regional vegetables and brought to a boil. As with most of Kaga cuisine’s specialty dishes, Jibuni is known for more than its savory and layered flavors and is meant to appeal to the nose and the eyes as well as to the taste buds.”
from this lovely blog

Ms. Shimbo adds the extra step of searing the skin then draining the skillet to reduce some of the extra fat and to add color and flavor to the dish.
Duck Prepared in Kaga-style
Kamo no Jibuni
serves 4

page 403

  • 2 cups dashi
  • 1 cup saké
  • 1 cup mirin
  • ½ soy sauce
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 duck breast halves with skin
  • ½ cup bread flour
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 naganegi (Japanese long onions)
  • wasabi
  • 16 to 20 carrot slices cut into flower shapes (or daikon see note below)

In a saucepan, combine the dashi, saké, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Cut off excess skin and fat from the duck. Reserve. Dry the breasts with paper towels.
Now, I must note that with the duck breasts I had the skin was barely attached to the meat so I just took all of it off. Heat a skillet very hot, and melt a little of the duck fat, and add some skin to the pan—allow it to brown a little. Quickly sear only one side of the duck breasts. I deglazed the pan after removing the duck with a little water, and added the liquid to the prepared stock.
If your duck has skin, then you don’t have to add fat. Sear only the skin side of the breasts.
Remove the meat from the skillet and plunge it into cold water. Remove and dry well.
Cut each breast in half diagonally and slice each half into ¼ inch thick slices. If your duck still has skin, make shallow cuts on the edges of each slice: as the duck cooks the skin will shrink and make the slices curl unattractively.
In a bowl, combine the bread flour with the buckwheat flour. Coat the duck slices with the flour, pat gently to remove excess, and let them stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, or refrigerate (covered) for several hours. Reserve the remaining flour mixture.
Parboil the carrot flowers, about 1 minute. All I had were those small fake baby carrots, so I julienned some and cut slices of daikon into flower shapes.
Cut the white part of the onions into 1 ½ inch lengths. Reserve the green parts to flavor the soup.
Coat the duck slices again in the flour mixture.
Add some of the duck skin, and the onion greens to the prepared stock. Bring the stock to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for a minute or two. Remove the onion greens and duck skin. Add the white parts of the onion to the stock. Simmer for a minute. Add the duck slices and cook for about two minutes. Do not overcook unless you like tough meat.
Serve the duck in individual shallow soup bowls with the onions and carrots alongside. Pour a little broth over the duck and top with a dab of prepared wasabi.

Cook’s Note
When I followed the recipe above, the sauce was soupy, and there was quite a lot left. I couldn’t bring myself to waste all that lovely mixture, nor could I stand to buy another expensive duck breast. Chicken thighs were a reasonable stand-in.
In the meantime I did some internet exploration and found pictures of this dish. In many of them, the “sauce” looked like a thicker stick-to-the-duck potion. My experiment with the chicken turned out a bit thicker than I’d intended.
I have had difficulty with getting the proper thickness of a sauce or dressing in the past. In all cases it’s an approach to authenticity only by approximation.
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One thought on “Kamo no Jibuni: Duck Prepared in Kaga-style

  1. Pingback: Duck for Rosh Hashanah « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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