Simmered Turnip and Chicken is a comforting home-cooking dish. The soft turnip and tender chicken soak up the great flavour of the simmering sauce. This is one of the very easiest turnip recipes to make. It keeps very well in the fridge, which makes it perfect for a bento box!
Turnip is a root vegetable that has soft, white flesh. Its shape is very similar to red radish but much larger and the flesh is denser. There are many species of turnip, but small and tender turnips are consumed by humans.
In Australia, turnip is in season during spring through to autumn, but in Japan turnip is in season only in spring and in autumn. The spring turnips have a softer texture, and the autumn turnips are sweeter.
It is one of the vegetables that has a long history in Japan. It is said that turnips came to Japan during the Yayoi period (300BC to 300AD). Perhaps this is the reason why there are so many turnip species – about 80.
Most turnip species in Japan, with exception of Shōgoin kabu (聖護院かぶ, Shōgoin turnip) are small (about 5cm / 2″ in diameter). But in Australia, the size of the turnips can vary between 5cm / 2″ to 10cm / 4″ or more.
Turnips sold at supermarkets in Sydney don’t come with the leaves intact, but at vegetable shops you might find turnips with the leaves attached to them.
If your turnips have leaves attached, remove the leaves from the roots and store the roots and leaves separately in cling wrap. Turnips lose moisture when the leaves remain attached as the leaves take up the water from the roots.
Turnip leaves are similar to the leaves of daikon (white radish) and contain more nutrition than the root. So, don’t throw them away – use them in miso soup, stir-fry, and salad after blanching them.
What’s in My Simmered Turnip and Chicken
The main ingredients are just turnip and chicken. They are cut into large bite-size pieces and cooked in a simple simmering sauce.
- Turnip – peeled and cut into large bite-size wedges
- Chicken thigh fillets – cut into bite-size pieces
- Dashi stock
- Soy sauce
- Julienned ginger
- Blanched turnip leaves or spinach/Asian green leaves cut into 5cm long pieces
You can use chicken breast fillets, but I think that thigh fillet gives more flavour to the sauce. It also provides a bit more oil to make the sauce richer.
My turnip was small – about 6cm / 2⅜” in diameter. So, I quartered it vertically and made 4 wedges from this one turnip. If your turnip is very large, you can halve it horizontally first, then cut each half into bite-size wedges. Make sure that the wedges are similar sizes so that they cook at the same time.
The green leaves I listed to serve with Simmered Turnip and Chicken are optional, but a small amount of green makes the dish stand out. If your turnips came with leaves intact, use them to accompany the dish. Otherwise, use any green leaves suitable for blanching, such as spinach or choy sum.
How to make Simmered Turnip and Chicken
- Bring the Simmering Sauce in a pot to a boil.
- Add chicken pieces and cook.
- Add turnip pieces and bring it to a boil.
- Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Serve with blanched greens.
When simmering, I used a otoshibuta (drop lid) so that the sauce covers all the ingredients up to the top.
For the first 10 minutes of simmering, I placed a lid on (in addition to the drop lid), then removed the lid after 10 minutes.
My turnip required about 20 minutes to become very tender, but your turnip might need less time. Using a bamboo skewer, occasionally check to see how far the skewer can get through a turnip piece easily. If your turnip cooks fast, reduce the first phase of the simmering time (with the lid on).
The oil from the fat of the chicken makes the simmering broth slightly richer, even if the ingredients are not sautéed before simmering. Simmered Turnip and Chicken is an easy but hearty side dish. If you increase the quantity, I think it can even be a main dish.
It can keep 4-5 days in the fridge and it is also great to freeze.
Simmered Turnip and Chicken is a comforting home-cooking dish. The soft turnip and the tender chicken are full of flavour. This is a very easy dish to make and keeps well. It is perfect for a bento box!
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 this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 150g / 5.2oz thigh fillet without skin, cut into 4cm / 1½“ cubes
- 200g / 7.1oz turnip (note 1)
- 300ml / 0.6pt dashi stock
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp ginger finely julienned
- Blanched turnip leaves cut into 5cm / 2" long pieces
- Blanched spinach/Chinese green leaves cut into 5cm / 2" long pieces
Peel the skin of the turnips, then quarter each turnip vertically. If using a large turnip, cut it into 6 wedges or 8 pieces by halving it horizontally first, then quartering each half.
Put all the Simmering Sauce ingredients in a shallow saucepan that can fit the chicken and turnip pieces snuggly without overlapping. Bring it to a boil.
Add the chicken and cook until the surface of the chicken becomes white, and the sauce starts boiling again. If scum rises, remove it as much as possible.
Add the turnip pieces to the pan and bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low, place an otoshibuta (drop lid) on, and cook for 10 minutes with a lid on.
Remove the lid and continue to cook with the drop lid on for a further 10 minutes until the turnip pieces are cooked through (note 2) and the sauce is reduced to a couple of tablespoons to just cover the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the turnip and chicken pieces to serving bowls, then pour the remaining sauce over it.
Place blanched green leaves on the side and serve.
1. I used 2 small turnips of 6cm/ 2⅜" in diameter, which is similar to the size of turnips you get in Japan.
In Australia, you may find that most turnips sold at vegetable shops and supermarkets are much larger. It’s OK to use a large turnip. You just have to cut it into smaller pieces when preparing.
2. If the turnip pieces are semi-transparent light brown, they should be cooked. If you are not sure, poke the middle of a turnip with a bamboo skewer to see if the skewer goes through easily.
3. This dish can keep 4-5 days in the fridge. It is also great to freeze.
4. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 339g calories: 222kcal fat: 12g (18%) saturated fat: 3.3g (16%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 2.6g monounsaturated fat: 5.1g cholesterol: 73mg (24%) sodium: 850mg (35%) potassium: 587mg (17%) carbohydrates: 10g (3%) dietary fibre: 1.9g (8%) sugar: 7.1g protein: 17g vitamin a: 1% vitamin c: 35% calcium: 3.3% iron: 4.8%