Houtou Stew with Rice Dumplings (Shiratama)

This houtou stew contains little pumpkin-shaped rice dumplings that give a cute, festive touch to this delicious and warming stew. These dumplings are perfectly bite-sized, and it makes you feel like you're eating a soft, warm pillow every time you put one in your mouth. ...that's a good feeling, right? ^O^

Ingredients: Serves 4

For the Dumplings (Shiratama):
❤ Shiratama flour
❤ Water
❤ Cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon
For the Houtou Stew:
❤ Kabocha squash
1/4 of the squash
❤ Carrot
❤ Chinese cabbage (hakusai or wombok)
1/4 of the cabbage
❤ Shimeji mushrooms
1 package
❤ Aburaage (deep fried tofu pouches)
3 sheets
❤ Green onions
❤ Chicken thighs
❤ Water
8 cups
❤ Dashi stock
2 tablespoons
❤ Miso paste
4-6 tablespoons, to taste
❤ Taro (optional)


1. First, make the rice dumplings (shiratama). Gradually add water to a bowl containing the shiratama flour, and knead well until the dough becomes “as soft and firm as your earlobe”.
2. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Take 1 piece of dough and mix in the cocoa powder, making a brown-coloured dough. Roll the remaining white dough into small, evenly sized balls. Shape into a pumpkin shape by making 6 vertical indentations on the sides using a toothpick or skewer. Using a small amount of the brown dough, stick it onto the top of each pumpkin as the stem.
3. Boil the dumplings in boiling water. Remove once they have risen to the surface, boil for one minute then remove from the pot and place in ice water to cool completely. Place them on a plate covered with plastic wrap while you are making the stew.
4. Next, make the houtou stew. Cut the pumpkin and taro (optional) into large pieces. Separate the shimeji mushrooms from their base, and cut the remaining vegetables, aburaage and chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces.
5. Add the water, stock powder, pumpkin and taro (optional) into a pot, and boil for about 5 minutes. Once the pumpkin has cooked through, remove half of the pumpkin pieces, and set on a plate.
6. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the green onion), and boil for about 10 minutes. Then add and dissolve the miso paste, return the cooked pumpkin to the pot, and top with the green onion and dumplings.
7. Pour the stew into a bowl to serve ❤

Story Behind this Recipe

Houtou stew is from the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan, and is a miso-based stew where the ingredients are stewed together with pumpkin. This stew is usually served with flat, thick houtou noodles, but today I have switched it around a little bit to add an autumn theme. And if I'm being honest, this turned out so much tastier than even I expected. It's that good. You need to try making it!!!