It’s hayfever season in Japan, and with it comes an all manner of old wive’s tales about how to beat the pesky pollen invaders. One that seems to genuinely work, though, is the eating of ‘renkon’.
Renkon is the root of the lotus plant, and in look and texture is fairly similar to a raw potato – until you cut it open to reveal the fetching pattern of holes hidden within. And it has been proven to help hayfever sufferers to alleviate their symptoms. Like potatoes, renkon can be sliced thin and fried or baked to make crisps – it’s also delicious when boiled and added to a salad (don’t eat it raw!) – but today we’re going to be doing something else: chicken renkon.
For this recipe, you’ll need: (serves 1)
- 1 chicken breast (チキン胸肉)
- Renkon (about 200g, usually 2 ‘pieces’ of renkon)(レンコン)
- 3 tbsps of soy sauce (醤油)
- 1 tbsp of mirin (みりん)
- 1 tsp of sugar (砂糖)
- 1 tbsp of konbu dashi (昆布だし)
- 1 tbsp of cooking sake (料理酒)
- A dash of Worcester sauce (optional)
- Peel and slice the renkon into thin-ish slices (not wafer thin, but thick enough to have a bite to them.
- Cut up the chicken into bitesize chunks and fry in a pan with some olive oil until cooked through.
- When cooked through, add the cooking sake and the renkon on a low heat.
- While that’s cooking, mix the soy sauce, mirin, konbu dashi and sugar (and Worcester Sauce) in a bowl.
- When the renkon starts to brown, add the sauce mix to the frying pan. Stir thoroughly, ensuring all pieces of chicken and renkon get covered in the sauce.
- Cook it all on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Put a lid on it to keep that tasty sauce from evaporating!
- Serve and enjoy!
If done right the renkon should still have a bit of bite in it and compliment the juicy chicken perfectly. Serve with a side of rice and a salad.
So not only do you get a delicious meal, you also get a bit of relief from that pesky hayfever and can head out to enjoy the spring weather and the sakura.