Washoku Warriors Challenge #13: Tonjiru (豚汁,とん汁,とんじる)

by foodhoe on December 2, 2010

It’s been awhile since I participated in the Washoku Warriors, too many other things demanding my attention… But I so enjoy exploring Elizabeth Andoh’s amazing cookbook Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen that I decided that I really had to make time for it.  This month’s challenge focused on a selection of hearty soups and this dish Tonjiru, captured my fancy.  Tonjiru is a pork stew thickened with miso and is full of lovely fall flavors and some of my favorite vegetables such as finely sliced leeks

julienned carrots and daikon radish

and another fall favorite, burdock root or gobo, a root vegetable that has an uncanny resemblance to fingers…  They have an earthy flavor and wonderful pungent aroma.

First peel them and then chop them into diagonal slices (wear gloves and put the slices into water to prevent discoloration)

Saute the vegetables with slices of pork

then add two quarts of water and some kombu for flavor (I included some dried shiitake mushrooms too)

after simmering for a while, remove the kombu and add cubes of firm tofu and a mixture of white (shiro) and mugi (a darker type of grain) miso to the broth.  I could not find the mugi miso at Ranch 99 and so got an Awase mixture of red and white miso that was a nice balance of the two.

And there you have a delectable hearty fall soup that is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart!  I’ve posted the recipe here, which calls for Mitsuba, a type of parsley that I couldn’t find anywhere, so I used fresh parsley, although green onion is a fine substitute.  The pork really made the soup hearty and makes a very nice dish for supper, which can be augmented with other fall vegetables such as fresh bamboo shoots and satoimo (taro) and bits of jiggly konnyaku (devil’s tongue).

I could just picture my grandmother, top row 2nd from the right, enjoying this dish…   here’s a family portrait taken in the 30’s, of my mother’s (first row sitting on the far left) first visit to her matriarchal homeland.  I love the stiff awkward posing and the mixture of east and west.  My grandmother’s family got so dolled up for the occasion, even my great uncle is wearing a formal kimono (or whatever it is called for men)!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa December 3, 2010 at 1:34 am

So healthy, comforting and delicious looking!




rowena December 3, 2010 at 2:06 am

Dang foodhoe…I really, REALLY hope to find some burdock root when I go into Milan next week. Your soup has just moved into the number spot for what to serve as part of our xmas dinner! Love the family photograph!


Single Guy Ben December 3, 2010 at 2:20 am

Pork stew with miso! Sounds so comforting. I’ve never seen that root used in Japanese cooking before. Reminded me of horseradish. Nice job with the step by step photos! I know it’s hard for you to cook and photograph at the same time! 🙂


Cookie December 3, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Thanks for sharing a lil bit of your family history with us! That soup looks so comforting and perfect on a cold rainy day like today!


hungry dog December 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

This soup sounds amazing. Your vegetables are so precisely julienned–very impressive! But my favorite thing about this post is the photo of your mother & her family…that is an incredible picture.


grace December 5, 2010 at 4:58 am

burdock root, eh? fascinating. this looks like an altogether comforting dish–thanks for the informative post!


Bonnibella December 6, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Recipe looks simple enough to make on a weeknight. I love that you shared a family photo. The quality of the print is very clear.


kim December 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm

i missed doing washoku warriors on this challenge and was planning to do tonjiru also. i have made it before (and was able to get locally grown burdock root – which i love) and your pictures captured the soup beautifully!


foodhoe December 30, 2010 at 8:02 pm

rowena, hope you found the gobo, it’s such a vital ingredient for Japanese new years. I haven’t had a hearty miso with all the fixings in a long time, it’s very good in the chilly winter
single guy, thanks it was an effort! burdock doesn’t have a kick like horseradish, it has a bit of a bite, more like a turnip.
cookie, Thx, I really love digging through the family archives!
hungry dog, isn’t that photo great? I think they went to a studio and that my mom and her cousin’s dresses are handmade!
grace, burdock root definitely hasn’t gone mainstream but you can easily find it in asian markets at least around here
bonibella, it is very doable on a weeknight. I love those old black and white studio pics
kim, I’ve had a hard time keeping my warrior status too! thanks for the compliment, where were you able to find locally grown burdock? how very very cool!


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