Tori-tsukune nabe (Hotpot with chicken meatballs)

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Broadcast date:February 14, 2014

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Eggs
  • Beans & Tofu
  • Flour
  • Other

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Ingredients (Serves 4 )

・300 g minced chicken
・1 knob of root ginger (about 3 cm in size)
・1 tablespoon flour
・1/3 teaspoon salt
・2 tablespoons water

・400 g hakusai cabbage (also known as napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage)
・150 g daikon or giant white radish
・80 g carrot

(For the broth)
・8 cups (1.6 litres) water
・1 tablespoon soy sauce
・1 teaspoon salt


  1. Place the minced chicken in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/3 teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Mix well with your hands until sticky. Grate and squeeze the juice from the root ginger. Add the ginger juice and 1 tablespoon of water, mixing well. The mixture should be still somewhat pliable before you add the last tablespoon of water. Lastly, add 1 tablespoon of flour and mix well.
  2. Remove the base of the cabbage, and separate the leaves. Cut the leaves into 2 portions, separating the whitish, tougher part of the leaves toward the base from the greener, softer part near the top. Cut the tough, whitish portions into strips 8 cm long and 1 cm wide, and cut the greenish portions into strips 8 cm long and 2 cm wide. Peel the giant radish and cut into rounds 5 cm thick. Cut lengthwise into strips 1 cm wide and slice them into about 2 mm thick. Cut the carrot into strips of a similar size, but try to slice them more thinly than the radish.
  3. Bring 1.6 litres of water to the boil in a wide, shallow earthenware hotpot. If an earthenware pot is unavailable, then use pots made of other material. Use a moistened spoon to scoop portions of the mixture of minced chicken into the simmering water. Keep the water on a simmer while adding the meatballs. Then simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot. Then add the whitish portions of the cabbage, the giant radish and carrot, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. When the radish becomes clear and tender add the green portions of the cabbage. Bring to the boil. Serve hot. Ladle the ingredients into small bowls with some of the broth.

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Donabe: Earthenware pots

Thick, shallow earthenware pots are indispensable for Japanese-style hotpot dishes.  They retain heat well, and are able to keep food warm for some time after being removed from the stove or flame.  Their cosy, homely appearance means they can also be taken to the table. The pots can be used both in the kitchen and at the table, saving on preparation time and washing up.

A drawback, however, was the tendency for the pots to break or crack when heated or cooled too rapidly.  However, this problem was largely eliminated by incorporating the mineral ”petalite” sourced mainly from Zimbabwe in Africa and Brazil in South America.  Petalite-treated pots first appeared in the 1950s.  Most of the earthenware pots sold in Japan contain this mineral.  This foreign-sourced material plays a useful part in Japanese cuisine.

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