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Simmered Chicken and Vegetables

Simmered Chicken and Vegetables

Discover the art of Nimono, a traditional Japanese simmering technique used to prepare savory and sweet dishes. Learn the simple steps to create a flavorful chicken dish with lotus root, burdock, and other ingredients, paired with detailed explanations for a straightforward cooking process.

First, a little theory: Nimono, or simmering, is a primary Japanese cooking technique, and a vast one. Nimono dishes are considered one of the classic kaiseki courses, as well as a mainstay of home cooking. There are numerous simmering methods for fish, veggies, meat (see pages 218-224 of Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art to see what I mean), but they all involve cooking ingredients in a flavorful, balanced and deeply umami-laden cooking liquid that contains one or more of the following: dashi, soy sauce, mirin and/or sugar.

Okay, that's it for theory. Now, what about dinner? Let me explain how I cooked this chicken dish:

Simmered Chicken and Vegetables with Shiitake Dashi


  • 1 small lotus root
  • 6 inches of burdock root
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 cup snap peas
  • 1 package konnyaku
  • 2 boned chicken legs
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked for 4 hours in a quart of water
  • Sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Optional: potatoes, taro roots, turnips, daikon, or kabocha pumpkin


  1. Prepare the Dashi:

    • Soak dried shiitake overnight in water to create shiitake dashi.
  2. Precook Hard Roots:

    • Peel lotus and scrape burdock with the back of a knife. Cut into pieces using rangiri style, then simmer in shiitake dashi for 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare Additional Ingredients:

    • Cut konnyaku by scoring and tearing into pieces. Blanch snap peas, then shock in cold water. Cut carrots rangiri-style and slice chicken and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Cook Chicken and Carrots:

    • In a saucepan with a little oil over medium heat, cook chicken and carrots until chicken turns white.
  5. Combine Ingredients for Simmering:

    • Add lotus, burdock, mushrooms, and enough liquid to cover ingredients. Bring to a simmer, skimming off scum and fat.
  6. Season the Dish:

    • Five minutes into simmering, add 1 tablespoon of sugar. After 5 more minutes, add 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce. Adjust to taste, aiming for a balance of savory and sweet.
  7. Simmer Until Ready:

    • Let ingredients simmer until about 1/3 of the liquid evaporates. Use an otoshibuta to ensure even cooking.
  8. Finish and Serve:

    • Check for tenderness. Serve with cooking liquid, topped with snap peas and optional shichimi togarashi.

Techniques and Their Purposes:

  • Rangiri Cutting: Ensures even-sized pieces for uniform cooking.
  • Precooking Hard Roots: Softens them before adding to the main dish.
  • Skimming: Removes impurities for a clearer, more refined taste.
  • Balancing Flavors: Achieves a harmonious blend of sweet and savory.
  • Using Otoshibuta: Ensures flavors are absorbed evenly without direct exposure to air, enhancing the dish's overall taste.