The last week here on the Minnesota Prairie was beautiful. Then a snowstorm hit us last night and we woke up to the winter wonderland landscape again. So Tokyo Boy says “i want to eat tonjiru” because that’s a winter food and we have leftover pork chops in the fridge.

The special ingredients here are pretty easy if you have ever cooked Japanese food before. This recipe is Midwesternized and doesn’t require a trip to an Asian Grocery store, however….if you DO have such a grocery store nearby, please go to it and buy either daikon radish or lotus root (or both) and chop them like the potatoes in the recipe below and add them in there. So delicious.

The two special ingredients are the same two you would need to make Miso Soup. Because tonjiru is basically miso soup with like meat added. Miso and Dashi.

I’m not particular to any kind of Miso. Just choose one. Dashi i tend to buy at Asian grocery stores, but I’m lazy, so I use instant powdered dashi instead of making it from konbu etc.

Ajinomoto - Hon Dashi (Soup Stock) 4.23 Oz.

This recipe also uses cooking sake…which you could easily substitute a dry sherry for if you have that instead.

Okay, here we go:

2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1/2 pound thinly sliced, fresh Pork Belly, cut into bite-size pieces (i just sliced a pork chop, so size of piece really doesn’t matter)
1 medium carrot, cut into half moons
1 small potato peeled, sliced into 1-inch rounds, then quarter the slices
3 or 4 shiitake mushrooms, roots cut off & sliced thin (feel free to omit this is your people don’t like mushrooms. Also feel free to use dried shiitake mushrooms instead of fresh)
1/2 pack of firm or extra firm tofu chopped into small cubes of your own desired size
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
1 knob of fresh Ginger
1/4 cup Sake
6 cups Dashi
1/2 onion sliced thinly
1/4 cup miso (tokyo boy likes red miso, but whatever color is fine. Also, when I make tonjiru I actually only use about two heaping tablespoons, but it’s more or less to your own taste)

Add the sesame oil to a medium sized saucepan and place over medium  heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onions.  Stir fry the onions for about 2 minutes until wilted. Add the pork and saute for another 2-4 minutes until cooked through.  Add the potato, carrot, mushrooms, knob of ginger and the garlic and continue to stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes so the oil coats all of the ingredients.  Add the sake and let the alcohol cook off for a minute then add the Dashi.

When the Dashi begins boiling, skim any scum that appears on the surface.  Reduce the heat to low, cover loosely, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through but not too soft.  Remove the knob of ginger.

Now it’s time to add the miso. Tokyo boy and his mom basically take a big ladle, press it into the top of the soup so that just the broth fills the ladle. Then, they take a regular old spoonful of miso and swish it around the ladle broth until the miso melts.  You could also use a small strainer or ladle with a fork or small whisk to dissolve the miso. Gently stir in tofu. Serve with finely chopped scallions on top and a bowl of rice if desired.