Simmered in a thick soy based broth, this Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni) is a comfort food that is an iconic dish in Ishikawa prefecture. Cooked together with shiitake mushrooms and carrots, and garnished with green leaves, it is a good looking, flavoursome dish.
Kanazawa is a capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, which is located on the coast of the Japan Sea. Kanazawa is one of the very popular travel destinations among not only overseas travellers but also Japanese people themselves.
It is perhaps because Kanazawa preserved Edo period (Tokugawa shōgun period, 1603-1868) districts with art museums and crafts shops, etc. There is also Kanazawa Castle and one of the three great gardens of Japan, Kenrokuen Garden, located just next to the castle.
The Japanese name of Kanazawa’s local specialty dish, jibuni (治部煮) does not imply what the dish is about, other than the last word ‘ni’ (煮), which means simmer/simmered. The word ‘jibu’ means nothing really related to the dish itself or ingredients.
There are a few theories about how the dish was named. One theory is that the broth gets thickened with flour and while simmering, it makes a sound like ‘jibu jibu’. So, they called it jibuni!
Ingredients of Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni)
Jibuni is traditionally made with duck, which is the key ingredient of this dish. But these days, there are many restaurants that serve jibuni with chicken instead. I also use chicken in my recipe.
You can use many combinations of other ingredients to make up jibuni. But commonly used ingredients are mushrooms, green leaves, baked wheat gluten called fu(麩), and small taro.
I used deep fried thick tofu called atsuage (厚揚げ) instead of baked wheat gluten and I added sliced carrot to give more colour to the dish.
For green leaves, I used choy sum, but you could use spinach or other green leaves with stems. Try to choose leaves with neutral flavour, otherwise the flavour of the leaves become overpowering.
About Fried Thick Tofu – Atsuage
Atsuage is like a thick version of aburaage. It is made by simply deep frying a block of firm tofu. It does not have any coating or batter to deep fry it. So, although I have not tried yet, you could make atsuage at home if you want.
The block of atsuage is about 2.5cm/1” thick, which is where the name of this tofu product came from, i.e. atsu (厚, thick) + age (揚げ, deep frying).
Unlike aburaage, atsuageis deep fried only to get the surface of the tofu golden brown while retaining the tofu texture inside. This is the reason why atsuage has another name, namaage(生揚げ) which is made up of nama (生, raw/fresh) + age (揚げ, deep frying).
For this reason, atsuageis not the same as a tofu puff either because the inside of tofu puffs have many air pockets and do not have the texture of original tofu.
However, if atsuage is not available where you live, tofu puffs are the best substitute.
Thick Broth is the uniqueness of jibuni
When a sauce or broths need to be thickened, you either add cornflour/corn starch to the broth or sauté flour in the beginning before adding liquid to make thick broth.
In the case of Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu, thickness is achieved by cooking flour-coated sliced meat in the broth.
Cook the vegetables in a flavoured broth that consists of dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin and sake. Then one by one add chicken pieces coated in flour.
As soon as the chicken pieces are added to the broth, the flour around the meat becomes sticky and locks the good flavour of the meat inside, while the broth becomes thicker at the same time.
Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni) is a hearty home-cooking dish and quite easy to cook. It is traditionally served with a small amount of wasabi.
I am travelling in Japan at the moment with my Aussie friends. I am taking them around to several great cities and we will be in Kanazawa tomorrow. We will definitely eat Jibuni there!
P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 200g/7.1oz chicken thigh fillets (skin on or off)
- 1 tbsp flour (or cornflour/corn starch)
- 150g/5.3oz thick fried tofu (note 1)
- 4 shiitake mushrooms (medium size), stems removed
- 50g/1.8oz carrot , thinly sliced to 5mm thick round pieces
- Few stems of Choy sum (or spinach)
- 400ml/13.5oz dashi stock
- 30ml/1oz soy sauce
- 40ml/1.4oz mirin
- 10ml/0.3oz sake
Slice chicken diagonally into thin bite size pieces – about 1cm thick (note 2). Coat each piece of chicken with flour.
Add boiling water over the thick fried tofu to remove excess oil. Cut it in half lengthwise, then slice perpendicular to the fist cut into 2cm thick blocks.
Blanch carrots for 1 minute and drain.
Blanch Choy sum stems for 30 seconds, then cool them down quickly in cold water or under running water. Squeeze water out of the stems and cut them into 4cm long.
Add the Broth ingredients to a saucepan. Add fried tofu pieces, shiitake mushrooms and carrots to the pan and bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium high and cook for 6-7 minutes until vegetables are cooked through.
Add chicken pieces one by one gently, ensuring that the whole piece submerges in the broth.
Cook for 3 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You will notice that the broth becomes thickened from the flour on the chicken.
Turn the heat off and transfer individual pieces from the pan to the serving bowls, clustering the same ingredients together.
Place Choy sum on the side and serve with a small amount of wasabi on top.
1. Thick fried tofu is called atsuage (厚揚げ) which is a deep-fried tofu of about 2.5cm/1" thick. It comes in a rectangular block (see the photo in post) and is often used in simmered dishes or stir fry.
Although tofu puffs are also deep-fried tofu, the texture is quite different from atsuage. The insides of tofu puffs are spongy but atsuage stays solid inside.
If you cannot find atsuage, you can substitute it with tofu puffs or even aburaage(deep fried thin tofu).
2. Do not slice the chicken too thick as it will take longer to cook.
3. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 257g calories: 268kcal fat: 16g (25%) saturated fat: 3.3g (16%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 6g monounsaturated fat: 5.1g cholesterol: 48mg (16%) sodium: 701mg (29%) potassium: 473mg (14%) carbohydrates: 13g (4%) dietary fibre: 2.6g (10%) sugar: 6.7g protein: 19g vitamin a: 58% vitamin c: 15% calcium: 13% iron: 14%