Veal Soup ~ Chikuzen-Style

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I made Chikuzen-ni in July, and we were so impressed by the way the taro added a lovely smoothness and slight thickening to the soup that J. was inspired to make a beef stew in August with with the vegetable. The stew was my usual chuck in red wine and a bit of tomato sauce with potatoes, onions, and carrots, flavored with garlic, bay leaf, oregono, rosemary. The other day I saw some veal shoulder chops on sale, and it occurred to me that I could make the Japanese recipe but substitute the veal for the traditional chicken. I wish that I’d been able to find lotus root, which would have made this dish divine.

I’d encourage my readers to give taro a try! Taro is called sato-imo in Japan. It is the root of a perennial plant that is found all over tropical Asia. There are many varietyies of taro; the shape varies from small and round to long and sticklike. Peeled and cut, it has snow white flesh. It doesn’t have a distinctive flavor, but it has a pleasant, soft texture, something like a potato. Uncooked taro is much harder and hairyier than a potato so it is difficult to peel. Rinse the taro roots to remove dirt and some of the looser hairs and dry well with paper towels. Peel with a knife. When the flesh contacts water it becomes slippery so resist the urge to rinse the bits of peel and hairs that adhere to the root as you peel it! Cooking taro in water makes it more slimy. To reduce the sliminess, cook the taro briefly once or twice in new water and discard the water before proceeding with further preparations. In this recipe, the taro is coated with hot oil before cooking it in water, but I think it is the sliminess that contributes to the slick smooth mouthfeel of the soup.

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Veal Soup ala Chikuzen Style>
veal soup with taro and root vegetables

serves 3 to 4

adapted from page 420
The Chicken

  • 1 pound veal shoulder chops, with bones
  • 1 teaspoon shoyu
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpost flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
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Cut the meat from the bones. In a large bowl, toss the vealwith 1 teaspoon shoyu and let it stand for 10 minutes. Note: cook the bones in the sauce for flavor.
Drain the veal and wipe it dry with a paper towel. In a large baggie, toss the meat with the flour. Pat the chicken to remove excess flour, and let it stand for 3 minutes.
In a medium pot, heat the sesame and vegetable oils over medium heat. Add the veal, and cook until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the veal from the pot, and reserve.
The Vegetables

  • ¾ pound mushrooms
  • ¾ pound small potatoes
  • 4 medium sato-imo (taro)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • hand-ful of green beans
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons saké
  • 2½ Tablespoons shoyu
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Slice the mushrooms. Cut the small potatoes in half. Peel and cut the taro in 1 ½-inch chunks. Peel and cut the carrot into 1 ½-inch pieces. Trim the green beans and cut in half. Blanch them in salted boiling water, 1 to 2 minutes; chill immediately.
Brown the mushrooms, then add the potatoes, taro, and carrot to coat with oil. Return the veal (and the bones) to the pot and stir with the vegetables. Add enough water to barely submerge all the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Gently simmer the mixture, covered with a drop lid for 20 minutes.
Add the green beans, the sugar, saké, and shoyu. Cook the mixture uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring so the food does not stick to the bottom.
Serving

  • Tamari, to taste
  • Shichimi togarashi
    (seven spice powder)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 medium carrot
  • hand-ful of green beans
  • Plain cooked brown or white rice
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Season the soup with tamari and shichimi togarashi. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve accompanied by plain white or brown rice.

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