Tonjiru

Tonjiru makes a great meal when you want something on cold day that’s hearty but not too heavy.  After preparing a pot you can leave it covered in the kitchen for the day and warm it up several times whenever you are craving a snack or a light meal.

 

In Japan, miso soup is widely popular and is almost universally served with a Japanese meal as an accompaniment to rice.  But of course, with miso soup being so popular it only makes sense that there are other types of miso soup besides the typical simple soup that comes served with every breakfast.

Tonjiru, or Butajiru, is a type of miso soup flavored with pork and vegetables.  Buta and Ton are both different pronunciations of the same kanji character, 豚, meaning “pig”.  And 汁, jiru, means “soup”.

Butajiru is a versatile dish that can be served as an accompaniment to a meal, or an entree in and of itself.  It can be found in restaurants around Japan, as a pre-packaged soup in grocery stores, or home cooked in many Japanese kitchens.  The ingredients vary, but Butajiru always contains pork, root vegetables (such as gobo, carrots, potatoes or sweet potatoes, etc) and konnyaku.  Another common ingredient in butajiru is usuage- a type of fried and dried tofu.  My recipe below features most of the ingredients that are found in a typical pot.

Tonjiru has a light taste and it is like a heavier version of miso soup.  Like all miso soups, it should never be brought to a boil after the miso is added.

Tonjiru (豚汁)

Name a healthy Japanese dish that goes great on a cold day…

Buta Jiru (豚汁) comes to mind! Buta means “pig” or “pork” and “shiru” or jiru” is the word for soup. So Buta Jiru is really pork soup.

I usually like to make a pot for breakfast on a cold day, and then leave it on the stove for later.

Buta Jiru starts with dashi in which root vegetables are boiled to infuse flavor into the broth. Daikon, carrots, and gobō are usually used which give the broth a unique umami flavor.

The pork is then added, and then other vegetables and usuage(薄揚げ) which is fried tofu that has been dried and has a spongy texture.

After boiling, the final touch is to add miso paste to the soup and heat back up without boiling.

This amazing Japanese comfort food is delicious and healthy.

PREP COOKING YIELD
15 minutes 35 minutes 8 bowls
PREP 15 minutes
COOKING 35 minutes
YIELD 8 bowls

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups dashi
  • 6 TBSP miso paste (see notes)
  • 1/2 lb thin sliced pork (200g)
  • 1/3 Daikon (200g)
  • 1 carrot (180g)
  • 1/2 gobō stalk (80g)
  • 3 sataimo potatoes (150g)
  • 3 large shiitakes (80g)
  • 1 small block of konnyaku (100g)
  • 1 pack of usuage fried and dried tofu (30g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions (50g)

Instructions:

  • Peel and chop the daikon, carrot and Gobō into squares or matchsticks about 1/2 x 1/2 inch (1 cm x 1 cm).

  • Peel and slice the sataimo and shiitake.  Chop up the pork, konnyaku and usuage.

  • Bring the dashi to a boil in a large stockpot.  Add in the daikon, carrot and gobō and boil over  medium heat for 10 minutes until the daikon is soft.

  • Add the pork and boil for another minute while stirring until the pork is no longer pink and well integrated into the stock.  Skim any foam off the top with a spoon and discard.
  • Add the sataimo, shiitake, konnyaku, and usuage.  Continue to boil on medium heat for 10 more minutes.

  • Turn the heat down so the soup is no longer boiling.  Mix in the miso paste a little at a time until it is dissolved.  Continue to keep the soup warm but do not allow it to boil.
  • Serve in a bowl and top with fresh scallions.

Notes:

  • Make sure you use very thin slices of pork that is a little fatty.  If you go to a Japanese grocery it is called Shabu Shabu pork.  The fat adds flavor to the soup.
  • There are many varieties of miso.  For this soup I recommend using a white or mixed miso and avoiding akamiso, or red miso.

 

 

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