Dashi, an enhanced kelp stock with rich umami flavor, is a staple component of Japanese cooking; it has the remarkable effect of accentuating the flavors of anything cooked in it. At the Los Angeles restaurant n/naka, chef Niki Nakayama uses it to braise chicken thighs and root vegetables for a hearty, comforting dish. This recipe first appeared in our October 2014 issue with the story Spectacular Seaweed.
- 4 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1⁄4 cup sake
- 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
- 1⁄4 cup canola oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1" pieces
- 8 medium shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded
- 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 carrot, cut into 1" pieces
- 4 scallions, 2 minced, 2 thinly sliced on an angle
- 1 (1") piece ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 cups ichiban dashi
- 2 tbsp. mirin
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 tsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted, for garnish (optional)
Rub chicken with half each of the sake and soy sauce in a bowl; cover with plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.
Heat oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high. Cook chicken, flipping once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a bowl; set aside. Add onion to pan; cook until soft, 6–8 minutes. Add mushrooms, turnips, potatoes, and carrot; cook until vegetables are just tender, 15–18 minutes. Stir in remaining sake, the minced scallions, and the ginger; cook 2 minutes. Add dashi; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; add reserved chicken and its juices, the mirin, and salt. Cook, slightly covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Divide chicken between 4 shallow bowls and ladle soup over top; garnish with sliced scallions and, if you like, toasted sesame seeds.