Just like ochazuke, upon which this soup is probably based, keihan is made up of a bowl of rice, topped with all manner of tasty things and then doused in a delicious, warming broth. A dish as simple as this relies on the quality of its ingredients to shine through, so a well flavoured, properly seasoned, rich chicken stock is imperative. The first time we tasted keihan was in a yakitoriya in the sake producing district of Fushimi, where they took a holistic approach to their chicken cooking, using every last scrap of chicken on the grill, and then the bones and any other remnants to make this wonderful soup. The stock had a hint of sake in it, which may not be completely authentic, but we’ve decided to keep it in our recreation of the dish.
This is a great recipe for using up leftover scraps of meat from your Christmas bird, and the roast carcass makes for a fantastic stock too.
Soup broth ingredients.
- 1.5 litres strongly flavoured chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 5 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a small bowl, and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them. Leave for 15 minutes to rehydrate.
- Meanwhile, put the chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Add the salt, sake, mirin and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce to the stock, then drain the soaking liquid off the dried mushrooms- being careful to avoid any grit that may have come from them-and add this into the stock too. This enhances the savouriness of the soup rather than adding a mushroomy flavour. Now is the time to check your stock for seasoning, adding more salt, sugar or sake to taste.
- Rinse the soaked mushrooms, then put in a small pan with the remaining 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and the sugar. Cook the mushrooms over a gentle heat until the liquid has all been absorbed. Allow the mushrooms to cool, then slice lengthways, and set aside to use as a topping for the keihan.
Usuyaki tamago (thin omelette) ingredients.
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon dashi stock
- 1/2 teaspoon cornflour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of salt
- vegetable oil for cooking
- Blend the cornflour and dashi into a slurry, then add to your egg and beat well. Stir in the sugar and salt before passing the beaten egg mixture through a fine sieve or tea strainer to remove any lumps and ensure you have a completely smooth batter.
- Wipe the oil around a frying pan with a piece of kitchen roll or a brush, you don’t want too much excess oil, just enough to prevent your omelette from sticking. Allow the pan to warm slightly on your hob before adding the egg mixture.
- Swirl the egg around quickly to completely cover the bottom of the pan and create a thin omelette. Cook over a medium-low heat until it is set enough to flip over (about a minute) and then cook for a further minute on the other side. You don’t want the eggs to brown at all, when it’s fully set, remove from the pan and allow to cool.
- Roll your Usuyaki tamago into a tight cigar, then finely slice it into long noodle-like strands which are known as kinshi tamago.
- 1 quantity of soup broth, see above
- 4 cups cooked Japanese rice (see here for a how-to)
- 1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 1 usuyaki tamago, sliced into kinshi tamago
- Seasoned shiitake mushrooms (left over from broth recipe above)
- 2 tablespoons pickled ginger, shredded
- 2 tablespoons spring onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 sheet of nori, cut into fine strips
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Arrange the topping ingredients on a platter, share the rice between four deep soup bowls and pour the hot broth into a jug for serving.
- Each guest can now top the rice to their own liking from the selection, pour as much or as little broth over as they like and season with lemon juice before tucking in.
Serves 4 people.