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Kenchinjiru (Japanese Vegetable Soup)

Kenchinjiru (Japanese Vegetable Soup)

Originally created as a Buddhist temple cuisine, Kenchinjiru is a clear soup cooked with root vegetables, tofu, shiitake and kombu stock.

Ready in: 50 minutes

Serves: 4

Complexity: very-easy

kcal: 138

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1 piece kombu, (dried kelp)
5 cups water, (for kombu)
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup water, (for shiitake)
200 g firm tofu
½ packet konnyaku, (konjac)
200 g daikon radish, (5 cm)
1 medium carrot
3 pieces taro
100 g gobo, (burdock root)
2 spring onions
shichimi togarashi, (Japanese seven spice) (optional)
1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
3 tbsp saké
2 tbsp soy sauce


Previous Night: Gently clean kombu with a damp towel. NEVER wash kombu and do not remove the white powder. (that’s where the umami flavour comes from!) These days kombu is pretty clean. Soak kombu in 5 cups of water overnight.
Slowly bring the kombu water to a boil. Right before the water boils, remove and discard the kombu. Turn off the heat and set it aside.
Put dried shiitake mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with water. Place a smaller bowl on top to make sure mushrooms are submerged.
Wrap the tofu with a paper towel and place it on a plate. Put another plate on top to press the tofu, drain for 30 minutes.
Cut konnyaku into bite-size pieces. You can use a spoon to cut konnyaku. By giving konnyaku uneven texture, the surface will absorb more flavour. Boil for 2-3 minutes to get rid of the odour. Drain the water and set it aside.
Peel and cut daikon, carrot, and taro (satoimo) into slices. For daikon and carrot, slice them thinly so it will take less time to cook. For satoimo, cut into about 6 mm slices and soak in water to get rid of the slimy texture.
Scrape the gobo skin with the back of a knife under running water. Cut in half lengthwise and slice thinly. Soak in water for 5 minutes and drain.
When shiitake mushrooms are soft and hydrated, squeeze the liquid out and set the mushrooms aside. Strain the shiitake dashi into a finely meshed sieve to get rid of particles and set aside.
Remove and discard the stem of shiitake mushrooms and cut into quarters.
To Cook Kenchinjiru
Heat a large pot and add sesame oil. Sauté daikon, carrot, taro (satoimo), gobo, (burdock root) and konnyaku until the oil coats the ingredients.
Add shiitake mushrooms. Tear tofu with your fingers and add into the pot. (If you are using silken tofu, use a knife to cut and add it right before serving) Tofu will absorb more flavour when it is torn by hands. Sauté until all the ingredients are coated with the oil.
Add the shiitake dashi and kombu dashi and bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat to simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, skimming occasionally. Use a fine-mesh skimmer, skim off the foam and scum on the surface. Tip: Fill up a 1-cup measuring cup with water and clean the strainer in it. Exchange the water when it gets too dirty.
After 10 minutes, add saké and SIDS SALT & PEPPER and continue to cook until the vegetables are all tender. Finally add the soy sauce.
To Serve
Right before serving, cut the spring onion. Serve the soup and garnish with spring onion. Sprinkle Shichimi Togarashi and Sansho Pepper, if you like it spicy.
To Store
You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container or the pot and store in the refrigerator.