Recently I was fascinated by a few blog posts about the food that is traditionally prepared for Japanese New Year (it's a shame I can't remember the blog!), so when I saw this recipe for Chikuzenni I bookmarked it right away. Soon after we made a much needed trip to the Asian market to replenish a few ingredients, and this was the perfect recipe for trying out some exotic new veggies too.
In the post she shows lots of fancy cuts to make the food pretty for the holiday, but you can also just chop everything up for a normal dinner. I had fun cutting up the veggies though & ended up doing almost all of the special cuts. It does take some extra time, but I was kind of just playing with the ingredients throughout the day, doing a little here & there, so it came together quickly at dinner time.
This recipe uses chicken, shitake mushrooms, lotus root, bamboo shoots, taro, burdock root, carrot, konnyaku, and snow peas. Click on the picture to see where everything is in the bowl! (There are also some good pics on the recipe link)
We have cooked with burdock root and konnyaku in the past & were not super impressed then, but I enjoyed both this time. Burdock root is similar to bamboo shoots, but a little tougher. We always end up with extra since they sell this in packs of three at our store, but this time I did some research & found that it freezes well. Konnyaku has a very rubbery texture that reminds me of squid/octopus, and like the burdock root it mostly takes its flavor from the broth. This time I learned that it is much better when you slice it thin!
The taro and lotus root were new to us. The taro was like a potato but starchier, but I wasn't a fan of the texture. The lotus root was very crunchy and had a nutty flavor. We all liked that one (even the toddler), though we had so much of it that I got a bit tired of it.
The broth was delicious and we did enjoy the meal, but this recipe made a *lot* of food. After 2 dinners I still had a ton left over for lunches, so it would be best to make this one for a bigger crowd.