language button

Japanese Food File 4

Kenchin Jiru

Kenchin Jiru
  • Name :Kenchin Jiru
  • Tastes like :vegetables such as Ninjin(carrots), Satoimo(aroids), Gobou(burdocks), Daikon(Japanese radish) + Tofu + chicken + broth(chicken broth seasoned with soy sauce)
  • Ingredients :boneless chicken leg, Ninjin(carrots), Satoimo(aroids), Gobou(burdocks), Daikon(Japanese radish), Tofu, Konnyaku(arum root jelly), water, Shoyu(soy sauce)
  • How it's cooked :stir-fried with sesame oil and stewed
  • How much it costs :around 400 yen

Kenchin Jiru is a light soup with stir-fried and stewed chunky vegetables such as Ninjin(carrots), Satoimo(aroids), Gobou(burdocks), Daikon(Japanese radish) and Tofu. It may be called Japanese barley soup, only it has Tofu in it instead of barley.

It's a home-style dish cooked and eaten all over Japan, either cooked as light soup simply seasoned with soy sauce, or as miso soup according to each region or home.

There are two widely held explanations about the origin of Kenchin Jiru. One of them comes from the name of a temple in Kamakura called Kenchouji, since an ascetic monk is said to have cooked soup with broken Tofu and it was called Kenchou Jiru after the temple's name. The other is that it derrived from a Chinese dish called Kenchen, which was brought into Japan as one of the many Chinese monk's dishes using only vegetables. Records are said to be left that Kenchen was a dish frying Moyashi(bean sprout) with sesame oil seasoned with salt or soy sauce back in the Edo Period(1603-1867).

Regarding that Kenchen had been introduced to Japan during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and that there are several other Kenchen dishes shown in the cook books of those days, this latter explanation seems to be more persuasive. A typical Kenchen dish in the Edo Period seemed to come wrapped in Yuba(Tofu sheet) and deep fried like Harumaki(spring rolls) with fillings of slightly fried Moyashi(bean sprout) and some other vegetables, seasoned with salt or soy sauce. However, the process of cooking seems to vary with some steamed instead of deep fried, sometimes served with broth based sauce. And because there are records of various cooking and serving styles of Kenchen, it is thought to have been a quite popular dish in those days.

In either case, Kenchin originally has been a dish not using meat at all. Though today, many of them contain chicken. The picture shown is the Kenchin Jiru that Cow's mother has cooked for us. Additionally, she is from dowtown Tokyo, and has been cooking Kenchin with chicken, as a light soup seasoned with soy sauce.