Lazy Mama’s Kenchinjiru
Makes 8 to 10 servings
5 to 6 taro (satoimo), peeled
1/2 large daikon, peeled
1 1/2 carrots, peeled
1 burdock root, about 12 inches long (gobo)
1 (10.5-ounce, 298 grams) block konnyaku, cut into small strips
9 ounces/250 grams fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
2 aburaage, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 piece (about 6 inches x 6 inches) kombu
1 to 2 dashi sachets (optional)
1 (14-ounce/400 gram block) firm tofu, drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced (or 1 negi, if available)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 to 4 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
Additional toasted sesame oil and shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice), to garnish
1. Prepare the taro: Slice the taro into 1/2-inch slices, then cut the slices into quarters. Soak the pieces in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to remove some of the sliminess. After 30 minutes, drain the water and put the slices in a small saucepan, cover them with water, then bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, let the taro cook for approximately 5 minutes. Drain the taro and rinse several times in cool water to remove any leftover sliminess. Set aside.
2. Prepare the daikon and carrots: Cut the daikon and carrots into quarters lengthwise. Put two halves together, cut side down on a cutting board, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thin slices. You will be cutting two pieces at the same time using this method.
3. Prepare the burdock root: Fill a large bowl with cold water, then set it aside. Lightly scrub the surface of the burdock root with a vegetable brush under cold running water. Cut off both ends, then cut it in half. Make shallow, vertical cuts down the length of the root. Hold the end of one of pieces of root on a cutting board, to stabilize it, then use a sharp knife with your other hand to thinly shave strips of root at the other end (the blade should be almost horizontal to the root, so that it cuts thin strips), rotating as you go (like sharpening a pencil or whittling a stick). Place the shavings as you go in the bowl of cold water. When you have prepared all of the burdock root, set the bowl aside.
4. Prepare the soup: Heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the daikon, carrots, burdock root, konnyaku, shiitake mushrooms, and aburaage to the pot and stir-fry. When the vegetables start to glisten, add enough water to cover them, about 8 cups, though you can vary this amount based on how thick or soupy you would like your stoup to be. Add the kombu (or dashi sachet, if you have one!) to the pot and use cooking chopsticks, or a wooden spoon, to push it below the surface of the water.
5. Bring the soup to a simmer, skimming off any scum that collects on the surface as it cooks. When the vegetables are very tender, add the taro and continue cooking until they are tender.
6. Tear the tofu into large chunks and add them to the soup, along with the thinly sliced green onions. When the tofu has heated through, stir in the soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of the fine grain sea salt. Taste the broth then add additional salt if needed. At this point the soup can be cooled, covered, and stored in the refrigerator for several days, or it can be eaten immediately. When you are ready to serve it, reheat it (if needed) and serve it garnished with a few drops of toasted sesame oil and a light sprinkling of shichimi togarashi (if using).