Recipe : Umeboshi Chicken

I know, I know.  I haven't posted in a while.  I don't have any good excuses except that I haven't been anywhere or done anything of any interest to me or anyone else in the world, really.  

Also, I've been packing.  Because I'm moving...

...back to the US.  (In two days!) 

Honestly I wasn't sure this day would ever come.  I've loved being able to tell people I live in a foreign country.  I love that my family gets to say, "Oh, Liz is living in Japan/the UAE." (Even if they don't love it so much!) That's just so exotic and interesting.  But, the time has come.  The UAE and I are just about as opposite as they come, and in this case opposites certainly do not attract.  If you'll remember I did this exact same thing about a year ago and moved to Japan.  I came back to the UAE to give it one more chance, but things just aren't working out.  So, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, we are NEVER, ever, ever, getting back together.

But that's not what I'm writing about today!  I've got a recipe to share!  This is one Bryn and I discovered in our Japan days.  Some of the ingredients might be a little tricky to find, but it's definitely worth it if you can get your hands on them!

Back when we lived in Japan, we used to watch a tv program called Kyo no Ryori (Today's Cooking) every night.  Mostly it was a good laugh for us to watch the reaction of the cooks and tasters, but we also picked up a few Japanese cooking tips and recipes along the way.  This one's real name is something like "Carrots, Onions, Chicken and Umeboshi Stew" or something super-original like that. Not being huge fans of that name, we've dubbed it something equally original, "Umeboshi Chicken".

As I requires a couple of ingredients that aren't so common in kitchens outside of Japan.

Umeboshi are pickled plums.  You pretty much either love them or hate them (Bryn and I love them).  Supposedly they are good for digestion and will settle an upset stomach, at least that's what my Japanese "family" swore by!  

Konnyaku will probably be the trickiest ingredient to find.  I don't even know how to go about explaining it!  It's kinda like a stiff jell-o.  It's usually a greyish white color and comes in either blocks or noodle form.  Even though it smells like fish when it comes out of the package, it's completely meat-free and made from the root of the Devil's Tongue plant.  Konnyaku is pretty much flavorless, and just picks up the flavor of whatever it's cooked with, so it's a good thing to bulk up a stew or something. (I did a great job selling that, didn't I...greyish, smelly me, it really is good!)

Anyways, let's get on to the recipe.  To feed two hungry people you'll need:

-A couple of skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces (the chicken breasts we get here are super tiny, so one may be enough.  Just use your best judgement!)
-1 onion, roughly chopped
-1 carrot, roughly chopped
-1/2 a block of konnyaku, scored (as you would squid) and cut into bite size pieces
-2 cups prepared dashi (chicken stock will do in a pinch)
-5 umeboshi, pits removed (use less if you're not a fan of the flavor)
-oil for the pan
-2 Tbs miso
-2 Tbs mirin

Boil a small pot of water to blanch the konnyaku in.  Just pop it in the water for a few minutes, then remove it and set aside. 

Heat oil in a large wok or fry pan.  Add the chicken and cook til brown.  Add the konnyaku, carrot and onion to the pan and cook for a few minutes.   Add the dashi, miso, mirin and umeboshi.  Bring to a boil and stir well.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve with rice.

Seriously, get shopping online or at a local Asian or fancy grocery store and give this a go, especially if it's cold and wintery where you are!

The next time I post I'll be state-side again!  Please be patient if I'm absent for a few more days while I get settled in.  Oh, and don't worry, Bryn will come to the States too, one day ;)

^^Good, Japanese miso sent to us from one of my former student's family!!  We're putting it to good use!^^

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