Monday, November 05, 2007

Miso Chicken Stew

In a well made movie, we often marvel at how the main actor/actress shines in his/her role. And often it's because of the supporting actor/actress role in that particular movie that makes the main character stand out. And occasionally, the main character's role pales in comparison to the the talents of the supporting character. Likewise in cooking.

In Asia, most countries have their own methods and versions of enhancing a dish. It could be dried shrimp, chilies, or the popular fermented soy beans or soya bean paste. Used in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cooking, the soya bean paste is often used as the supporting ingredient in making a dish shine. In Japan, this paste is called Miso.

Miso comes in a variety of concoctions by fermenting soy beans, barley or rice, and this thick paste is used in most Japanese cooking. There are white, red, brown, black, yellow tubs of this paste found in food stores around here. I love the different intensities of miso and it's rich flavor in soups, and as a spread on white fish before putting it under the broiler. So I was elated when I saw this recipe for miso chicken stew.

The recipe was adapted from Gourmet, and I love how the miso shines through this dish even when it's the last ingredient added. And like all stews, this dish is brighter and tastier the following day. This recipe made a big batch of stew, so I put some away in the freezer for a quick meal for later in the week. Made several changes to the original recipe and cooked it in my electric pressure cooker with a non-stick interior. It also browns the meat as well as pressure cooks it, which makes an easy clean-up for me.16 chicken thighs with bone, but skin removed(about 5 pounds)
2/3 c dried wood ear mushrooms
4-5 c homemade chicken stock
3 (6-inch) stalks burdock root (sometimes called gobo)1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbs canola oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 lb fresh shitake mushrooms, stems discarded, large caps quartered
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
3 tbs finely chopped peeled ginger
3 tbs finely chopped garlic
1 c mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1/2 cup light soy sauce
3/4 to 1 c white miso (also called shiro miso)

Accompaniment: cooked jasmine or brown rice
Garnish: chopped scallions

Soak wood ear mushrooms in 4 cups of cold water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse well, discarding any hard pieces. Drain well, squeezing out excess water.

Peel burdock root, and, if more than 1-inch-thick, halve lengthwise. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer burdock root to a bowl, then add lemon juice and 2 cups water.

Turn on electric pressure cooker to brown, add 1 tbs canola oil and brown chicken thighs in 2-3 patches. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add onions and saute onions until softened and beginning to brown. Add shitakes, ginger, and garlic and saute until garlic is golden, 2-3 minutes.

Add mirin chicken stock, celery, and carrots, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in soy sauce, then add the chicken back into the pot.

Cover pot and pressure cook for 35 mins.

Remove the lid when pressure is off, and stir in 1 cup miso mixed with 1/2 cup warm chicken stock. With the setting on brown, stir gently til miso is well mixed in the sauce. Serve immediately with rice.

Note: I love the addition of burdock root to this dish. It added a unique taste to the dish as well as fiber. This can be cooked on the stove top and braised for 1 hour if not using a pressure cooker. I had chose to add the white miso to this dish as a last ingredient to preserve the wonderful flavors of miso. A dear Japanese friend taught me to never overcook miso so as to preserve it's qualities and nutrients, so I tend to add it last and bring it to just a boil.

Because in this particular dish, Miso was my star ingredient.


Little Corner of Mine said...

Finally you cooked the Burdock Root, how does it tastes like? Miso spread on fish before broiling, good idea! Never thought of that! Lastly, you got tagged! :)

Anonymous said...

I love the fish miso dish, can you post recipe?

Anonymous said...

You do come up with some amazing dishes. Is miso like 'tau joo' (the red fermented beancurds or white ones)?

Do your girls like this dish?

I am sure you noticed by now I ask if your girls like this dish or that dish only because I wonder if my kids would like things new that I cook. Hahaha. So you see, most of my dishes are recycled over and over again!

Cris said...

Love, love this recipe! We call this root gobo here. I use mirin a lot to marinade poultry and fish!

Indonesia Eats said...

ahaaa? I was wondering what burdock roots are for. Now I know. Thank you.

daphne said...

yum! i have to try a variation of this Miso stew. As u know, I have 1/2 a packet of miso paste sitting in my fridge. Thanks for sharing!

East Meets West Kitchen said...

Hey C,
Yes, and it was interesting. And I love miso on fish! Ok, coming over next.

Hi Elaine,
Ok, will get to it before the end of the week.

Hi Judy,
It's a different process of making it. The chinese ones are cubes and have a slimy surface outside? Miso is more like a paste and the ones I used were white. I think the white miso is milder too.
Yes, they did! :)

Hi Cris,
Me too!

Hi Andaliman,
Hah! You're most welcome!

Hi Daphne,
Hehe! I know, and was thinking of you. :)

Cynthia said...

I don't know if I'll find Miso here but will definitely try and I'd like to experiement and cook with it, such as your chicken stew.

East Meets West Kitchen said...

Hi Cynthia,
If you ever had miso soup, this would be a denser version of that, and not everyone is used to the taste, but I like it. :)

Beau Lotus 涟 said...

Still caught no ball about that burdock root thing. Is it like sweet potato?

Dwiana P said...

Oh I love this chicken stew. good to eat during this winter:)

East Meets West Kitchen said...

Hi Beau Lotus,
It's a root vegetable with a slight chinese medicinal taste in this stew, and I know that my mom used it in soups before. Quite unlike sweet potatoe.

Hi Dwiana,
My thoughts exactly. :)

Beau Lotus 涟 said...

I was just thinking that I made Herbal (black) Chicken Soup 2 days ago and the root I had looked quite like yours...Only mine arrived in the packet with loads of other weird looking stuff but since I love the soup so who cares, right?

East Meets West Kitchen said...

Hi Beau Lotus,
True! As long as you like it. Burdock root has many used and is suppose to be good for ya. :)

Unknown said...


so sad, the mexican forgot to put the burdock i paid for in my cart. I forgot all about it until the next day. Ching too did not remember seeing that long things in the cart.

East Meets West Kitchen said...

Hi Lily,
Oh no! I hate when that happens!