Layered Chicken and Chinese Cabbage is a visually attractive dish. Chinese cabbage/Nappa cabbage, chicken mince (ground chicken) and aburaage are layered alternatively to make a stripy pattern, then simmered in flavoured broth.
When a few ingredients are layered alternatively and cooked, the dish is often called Hakata (博多)-something in Japan. If it is a steamed dish, it is called Hakata-mushi (博多蒸し), meaning Hakata-style steamed dish. If the layered ingredients are deep-fried, it is often called Hakata-age (博多揚げ), which is Hakata-style fried dish.
The name of the dish came from the kimono sash (obi) woven in the Hakata region of the Fukuoka prefecture. Hakata obi has a distinctive stripy pattern and this pattern is compared to the pattern of the layered ingredients.
The most common Hakata-style dish is Hakata-mushi, which is a steamed dish with a flavoured sauce poured over it. But today I decided to simmer it so that I can make it in one pot.
INGREDIENTS OF LAYERED CHICKEN AND CHINESE CABBAGE
There are only three ingredients needed to make the pretty layers – chicken mince/ground chicken, Chinese cabbage/Nappa cabbage and aburaage. But each ingredient needs to be prepared before layering it.
- Chinese cabbage/Nappa cabbage – blanch the leaves so that they can be shaped easily and cut into the rectangular shape.
- Chicken mince – mix with ginger, salt and sake to give it flavour.
- Aburaaage – soak in boiled water to remove excess oil.
I have not tried yet, but I saw many Hakata-style dishes using cabbage instead of Chinese cabbage. Even with cabbage, I’d recommend blanching the cabbage to remove crispness.
Layering three ingredients takes a bit of care as you need to build up a rectangular block with them. The size of the base area is identical to the size of an aburaage. The photo shows how it looks in each step described below.
- Cut the Chinese cabbage leaves to the same shape as an aburaage. You may need to trim the uneven ends to do this.
- Spread the chicken mince mixture to cover the cabbage.
- Place an aburaage on it.
- Repeat the steps 1,2, and 3 four times, then top with a layer of Chinese cabbage leaf.
To secure the shape, use butcher’s twine to tie up in 4-5 places before cooking per below.
BROTH FOR LAYERED CHICKEN AND CHINESE CABBAGE
Unlike most simmering broths in Japanese cooking, my broth for Layered Chicken and Cabbage does not use soy sauce. It only consists of dashi stock, sake, sugar and salt, so it is a clear broth.
To prevent the bottom of the layered block from getting burnt, I place sliced carrots beneath it. The carrot slices also add sweetness to the broth.
It is made of only a few simple ingredients but after 25 minutes of cooking with chicken and vegetables, the broth ends up with a condensed, flavoursome sauce with a bit of richness from the chicken and aburaage.
The broth is then thickened to make a sauce to be poured over when serving.
Many recipes serve the sliced block with the Chinese cabbage side on top. But I prefer serving it with the stripy pattern showing on top, like serving a slice of terrine.
Because of the size and the shape of the block, this is the best way to serve it in my recipe. But if you cut it into smaller sizes to serve them as an appetiser, you may want to serve it with the cabbage on the top.
Layered Chicken and Chinese Cabbage takes a bit of effort to make but you can make it the day before serving and it can certainly impress the diners.
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.
Layered Chicken and Chinese Cabbage is a visually attractive dish. Chinese cabbage, chicken mince (ground chicken) and aburaage are layered alternatively to make a stripy pattern, then simmered in flavoured broth.
- 5 large Chinese cabbage leaves (note 1)
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 aburaage (thin deep-fried tofu)
- 5 x 40cm/1ft4" butcher's twine
- 30g/1.1oz carrot , thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp corn flour/corn starch mixed in 1½ tbsp water
- A pinch of salt (note 2)
- ½ tsp ginger juice (optional)
- 200g/0.4lb chicken mince (note 3)
- 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp cornflour/corn starch
- 850ml/1.8pt dashi stock , hot (note 4)
- 2 tbsp sake
- 1 tsp sugar
- A pinch of salt
Boil Chinese leaves in a pot with 2 teaspoons of salt until the thick stems soften (about 5 minutes). When cooked, drain water and cool them down.
Soak aburaage in boiled water (you can use the boiling water in step 1) for 5 seconds to remove excess oil. Take them out of the hot water and squeeze out excess water. Leave them to cool down.
Add the Chicken Mixture ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Divide the chicken mixture into 4 equal portions.
Trim the root end of Chinese cabbage leaves to make it straight, then cut the white part of each leaf to the length of the aburaage (lengthwise). Fold the tip of the other portion of the cabbage leaf to make it the same length as the white part.
Place two pieces of one leaf on a cutting board overlapping each other to make the same rectangular shape as the aburaage.
Spread ¼ of the chicken mixture thinly and evenly over the cabbage, then place a piece of aburaage on top of it.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 four times to make layers, placing the cabbage sheet on top of the aburaage (note 5). The layer will end with an aburaage at the top.
Make the last Chinese cabbage leaf the size of an aburaage in the same way and place it at the top (note 5). Tie the layered block with butcher's twine in 5 places to secure.
Place the sliced carrots in a pot which is deeper than the height of the layered block, carefully place the block on the carrots.
Add the Broth ingredients to the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Place a drop lid (note 6), then a lid on and cook for 25 minutes. If liquid evaporates too fast, add some water.
Take out the block from the pot, remove the strings and cut it into 4 equal pieces (note 7). Place each piece on a plate or in a shallow bowl showing the cut side up.
Transfer the broth to a small pot. You should have about 150ml/5.1oz of broth left in the pot. If not enough, add water. If too much, condense.
Add corn flour with water to the sauce to make it thicker. Pour the sauce over the blocks with a couple of drops of ginger juice if using.
1. Each Chinese cabbage leaf does not have to be as wide as that of an aburaage but the length needs to be at least twice as long as the long side of the aburaage.
If some of the leaves are cut to half vertically (this happens when you buy a Chinese cabbage cut in half), use two leaves to make up for a full leaf.
2. Instead of salt, you can add 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce.
3. It can be either thigh mince or breast mince.
4. Alternatively, you can use 3 cups of hot water with 2 teaspoons of dashi powder.
5. When placing a Chinese cabbage leaf on, change the direction of the leaf alternatively so that the height of the terrine will become even on both ends. If you place the leaves in the same direction, i.e. white parts of all the leaves on one side, you will end up with this side too high and the leaf side too low.
6. A drop lid is called 'otoshibuta' (落し蓋) in Japanese. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a saucepan. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless-steel lid. It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, and the ingredients cook faster, and stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly.
If you don’t have a drop lid, you can make one with baking paper or aluminium foil. Cut a square in foil, fold the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.
7. If serving as appetiser, cut it into 8 pieces (with extra one horizontal cut).
8. You can make this the day before serving. Store the sauce separately and pour it at the time of serving. Microwave to reheat.
9. Nutrition per serving. Carrot slices are not to be eaten but included in the nutrition calculation as some nutrients come out into the broth. Accordingly, calories, weight etc are marginally overstated.
serving: 404g calories: 229kcal fat: 12g (18%) saturated fat: 2.5g (13%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 4.4g monounsaturated fat: 3.6g cholesterol: 45mg (15%) sodium: 1943mg (81%) potassium: 867mg (25%) carbohydrates: 9.8g (3%) dietary fibre: 2.5g (10%) sugar: 3.2g protein: 20g vitamin a: 104% vitamin c: 67% calcium: 16% iron: 15%