Chicken and Burdock Root Zouni (Rich with Walnut Sauce)
This zouni or ozouni (mochi rice cake soup usually eaten at New Year's) has a soy sauce flavored base, and is packed with chicken, burdock root and the wild flavors of mountain vegetables. The walnut sauce makes it rich. It's so good!
Cut the chicken breast into 2 mm thick slices that are about half a finger length long. Slice the burdock root into 1 mm thick diagonal slices. Slice the carrot in half, lengthwise, then slice 1 mm thick.
Cut the fiddlehead fern into 4 cm pieces. Cut the butterbur into half, lengthwise, and then cut into 4 cm pieces. Slice the bamboo shoots into 2 mm thick diagonal slices.
Slice the shiitake mushrooms 1mm thick. Cut in half lengthwise, and then slice about 1mm thick. Cut the seri into 4cm pieces.
Shell the walnuts.
Grill the mochi cakes, put into a bowl and cover with boiling water until softned. (Do this just before the soup is ready.)
Bring some water to a boil in a pan and add the dashi stock granules, sake and soy sauce to make the soup.
Add the #1 Additions, and take off any scum and oil on the surface by spreading some kitchen parchment paper on top of the soup. Add the #2. additions, and skim off the scum again.
When the kamaboko has turned beige, add the seri and it's done. If the soup is lacking salt add about a pinch.
Grind up the walnuts in a grinding bowl. Thin out the ground walnuts with about 1 ladle full of the soup, and grind up again until smooth. Thin it out with about 3 ladles of soup or more until it's your desired consistency.
To serve, put the softened mochi in bowls, then the soup additions, then finally ladle in the soup. Top with the walnut sauce and serve.
Story Behind this Recipe
I wanted to introduce people to the ozouni recipe I grew up with. The house I grew up in is in the Tsugaru region of Aomori prefecture, but I haven't seen any other recipe online for a recipe that uses walnut sauce, so it could be unique to our family. It's an ozouni soup with wild yet rich, fragrant flavors.
I ground up the walnuts in a grinding bowl, but you can do this in a food processor instead. The finish should be creamy, so chop the walnuts up very very finely. The amount of walnut sauce in the sup shown in the photo is on the generous side. Please adjust the amount to taste.