Steamed Chicken with Cucumber and Wakame

Steamed Chicken with Cucumber and Wakame


My new favorite cookbook is a Japanese-English paperback called (at least in English) Traditional Japanese Recipe Book with English Translation. Not the most evocative title, for sure, but the book's packed with great recipes, techniques and useful information. A chef friend in Tokyo gave it to me as a gift this past spring and I've been cooking with it since. Unfortunately, you can't buy it here in America (at least I haven't found it -- if you see it, please let me know!). So I want to cook a few dishes from the book and share it with you.

First up, this terrific steamed chicken dish, which is really simple and delicious. First, chicken is marinated in salt and sake to tenderize it, then steamed. Once the chicken cools, you toss it with wakeme seaweed, thinly sliced cucumbers and serve. That's it. Enjoy.

Here's the method:

2 chicken legs and thighs with skin, boned
2 tablespoons dried wakame seaweed
1 Japanese cucumber
Salt for salting
1/3 cup sake
1/2 cup ponzu
Wasabi paste to taste

A couple of notes, first:

  • If you don't want to bone the chicken yourself, you can use any boned dark meat chicken you find in the market (you can use white meat, if you prefer). Skinless is fine.
  • To reconstitute wakame, pour boiling water over it and let it soak for 4 minutes before straining.
  • If you can't find a Japanese cucumber you can substitute with a Persian cucumber (also dry like Japanese cukes)or a good ole' standard American one (more moisture) -- but seed the American variety.
  • Use real sake, not that "cooking sake" fake crap. Any inexpensive sake will be fine.
  • Ponzu you can buy prepared at Japanese markets. Buy the variety prepared with soy sauce. Or follow the recipe in my hot pot book, page 34.
  • The original recipe calls for fresh wasabi julienned and tossed with the other ingredients. Since fresh wasabi is very difficult to find here (not to mention super expensive), just add wasabi paste from a tube to taste.
  • Here's how I set up the steamer: I unscrewed the post from a standard veggie basket-style steamer and placed an ovenproof dish on top of it. I stuck the contraption in a pot filled with water up to the steamer level and got it steaming before I added the chicken, which goes on the plate. Close the lid and you're ready to steam.

Okay, here's how we cook it:

  1. Pierce the skin of the chicken with a fork, and score the flesh lightly. Salt the chicken on both sides and place on a plate. Pour the sake over the chicken and work in with your fingers. Let the chicken marinate 10 minutes for each side. The sake and salt will tenderize the chicken.
  2. Preheat the steaming contraption.
  3. Rub the cucumber with salt, rinse off and thinly slice on a diagonal. The salt lightly cures the cucumber. Reconstitute the wakame as I describe above. Set both aside.
  4. When the chicken is ready, steam the chicken for 15 minutes or until a skewer goes through the meat easily.
  5. Remove the chicken, cover with plastic wrap so it doesn't dry and cool for 1 hour.
  6. Slice chicken in half lengthwise, then slice the halves into bite-size pieces. Toss with the cucumber, wakame, and ponzu. Add wasabi to taste and serve.

Posted by Harris Salat in Chicken | Permalink | Comments (7) | Email | Print

Comments (7)

As much as I love Thanksgiving foods, I have to admit that all I've been craving this week are recipes like this one. So fresh and delicious-looking. But I think if I gave in to my cravings and applied them to tomorrow's menu, my family would riot. :)
The book is easily obtained from your Amazon link. The problem is the book is reasonable at $16.42, but the only shipping option is international express and that costs $35.20. The total coming to $51.62. I did find the book available, locally for me in the SF Bay Area, at Kinokuniya by using their website ( and then enter 和食の事典 in the search term input box). The total cost this way is $24.47 including sales tax. Those living outside California or NY will skip the sales tax but incur a shipping charge.
Thanks for this, Peter! -- Harris
Hi, Harris. This cookbook has been my bedtime reading for several nights here in Kyoto. The book was 1400 yen at a bookstore on Shijo-dori downtown. You weren't kidding when you said in one of your posts that the English was kind of wonky. You should offer to re-write it for them; it is screaming for your deftness! One of the more frustrating aspects I've found is when they list soup stock in some of the recipes. As you know, pages 196-197 deal with making the different stocks, but no where in the English recipes do they tell you *which* soup stock to use. Is it kombu dashi? Iri boshi dashi? Katsuo boshi dashi? It doesn't appear that the Japanese text differentiates much either, but I'm going to ask the friend with whom we're staying for some assistance. By the way, do you have any other recommendations for cookbooks that can be purchased here and include English? Thanks as always.
Hi Mora, thanks for your comment. Hey, it's not just a cookbook, it's an adventure! I think there's great stuff to be gleaned from this book, but it's challenging. I should have reemphasized the language wonkiness in this post, good point. Pull what you can out of this book. I'm going to cook more recipes from it for the JFR and try to explain things in greater detail. Regarding other cookbooks you can buy in Japan, I wish I had suggestions for you, but I wasn't crazy about the other billingual ones I've seen so far. Any readers have suggestions?
I've been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here: Cheers, Melissa Editor and Community Developer -- The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit
I finally ordered this cookbook from Kinokuniya Bookstore. Total cost, including shipping and handling (Feb 2010) was $31.50. This is a very nice book. So far, my favorite recipe is for an unusual and famous Japanese ingredient. Simmered Spicy Konnyaku will make clear why this ingredient is loved in Japan. I've tried konnyaku many ways in many dishes, but I never understood until this dish how good it could be.

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