I wonder what most British people do with those leftover veggies in the fridge?
Here in Japan – or at least for me – the answer is ton-jiru.
If you have even just a little bit of pork, you can mix it with all those bits of veg that are leftover, and make a fabulous pork miso soup – or ton-jiru.
In the winter here in Japan, ton-jiru is the staple for outdoor winter events. As a warm-you-up after a winter marathon, or at a New Year mochi-tsuki event, when sticky rice is pounded into “mochi” rice cakes, and so on, there will often be a huge pot of ton-jiru on offer, with everyone puffing the steaming bowls cupped in their hands to cool it. If the event has a small budget sometimes it can have hardly any pork in it but still be just the thing to bring smiles, and warm everyone up.
This time I made a ton-jiru with pork, daikon, carrots, potatoes, onions, konyaku, shiitake mushrooms and chinese cabbage, topped off with welsh onions and “shichimi” chilli pepper spice.
Ideally I would have liked to have added abura-age (deep-fried tofu) and burdock, too, but I didn’t have any in the fridge, so I did without this time.
Ton-jiru is such a well-known dish here that there’s really no need to tell Japanese people how to make it, but there are a couple of things you can do to make it taste that much better.
The first is to peel a thicker layer of skin off your daikon! The thickness of the skin on your daikon will vary depending on the season, but if you cut a thin slice you will be able to see the difference between the skin and the softer inside quite clearly.
Even if the skin is quite thick, I will peel it all off. You might think that sounds like a waste, but don’t worry, I’ll use it for something else later! (I’ll tell you that another time.) But peeling the thick skin right off means the juices of your soup will soak up into the daikon, and it will make a huge difference.
And the second thing I do is add ginger. Not only will ginger help warm you up even more, it tastes delicious!
By the way, konyaku is non-calorie and full of fibre, and getting very popular outside of Japan nowadays. You should boil it in hot water for 2 minutes before you use it, to take the bitterness out.
(You wouldn’t usually put them in ton-jiru, but the same goes for shirataki noodles, which are made of konyaku and are getting very popular all over the world now.)
To ensure your konyaku soaks up all the flavours of your soup, it is best to tear it into pieces with your fingers, or use a spoon, rather than cutting it with a knife.
Ton-jiru is a miso soup with so much stuff in it you could almost call it a miso “stew”. Perfect for a cold winter day. How about topping it with cheese?? Mmmm!
- 1000ml dashi (or vegetable stock)
- Veg – potatoes, carrots, daikon, onions, chinese cabbage, shiitake, burdock, leeks, konyaku, deep-fried tofu, fresh tofu, or whatever you have…
- 200g sliced pork
- 5 tablespoons sake
- 100g miso (depending on your miso the saltiness will vary a lot, so add small amounts at a time and check)
- juice from a chunk of grated ginger
- Top with thinly sliced welsh onions or green onions, ichimi or shichimi chilli spice, cheese etc
1. Make your dashi.
2. Thinly slice the pork, and cut into small pieces. Cut the veg and konyaku into bite-sized pieces.
3. Add root vegetables, konyaku, deep-fried tofu etc to the dashi in a large pan and when it has come to the boil add the pork, other veg and ginger, turn the heat down low and boil until the vegetables have softened, removing any scum as you go.
4. Just before you eat, add the miso, bring it up to just before it boils and take off the heat. Serve in bowls, and top with welsh onions, green onions, cheese or whatever you prefer.