Tsukune with renkon 蓮根つくね

japanese cake

This is a variation of Japanese chicken patty, tuskune つくね.  Generally tsukune in Japan contains chopped up “soft bone” (cartilage or “nankotsu”  軟骨).  My wife does not like this, since  it reminds of her childhood when ground meat always had some bone fragments mixed in.  Instead, I chop up lotus root (“renkon” 蓮根) to add some crunchy texture to tsukune. This time, instead of including chopped up lotus root in the patty, I used a slice of lotus root as a base and pressed tsukune on the top. The combination of ground meat and lotus root is rather common and I posted deep fried lotus root sandwich 蓮根のはさみ揚げ,  previously.  I got this idea from “Sakaba hourouki 酒場放浪記 on YouTube which we saw one evening. In one of the episodes, this dish was served to the always somewhat inebriated host.

To show how this is constructed, left is the patty side and right is lotus root side on the top, respectively. I took a shortcut and I cooked this in a frying pan. Instead of making “tare” sauce, I just made a quick pan sauce to coat the tsukune.

There are many variations on what can be included in tsukune.  The only consistent ingredient is ground chicken.  One of the reasons I had for making this dish was to use barbequed chicken left over from the previous weekend. So, I mixed finely chopped cooked breast meat with store-bought ground chicken breast. I am not sure about the amount as usual but both the cooked and ground chicken were about 1 lb each. The idea here is that the cooked chicken adds texture and the raw ground chicken binds the tsukune together.  You could add anything you like but this time, I added finely chopped scallion (5 stalks including green parts), grated garlic and ginger (about 1/2 tsp each but whatever amount you like), and 1 tbs of miso. Since the mixture was a bit stiff, I also added one whole egg beaten. I made 1/3 for this dish and 2/3 for usual tsukune. For the usual tsukune, I added coarsely chopped lotus root. I made 8 tsukune on lotus root as you can see below. I pressed the meat mixture so that some went into the holes of the lotus root.

With a small amount of vegetable oil (or dark sesame oil if you so prefer) on medium heat,

I cooked the meat side first for 1-2 minutes until the surface was nicely browned. I flipped them over and cooked for another 1-2 minutes. I then added mirin, sake and soy sauce (1tsp each) into the pan. I shook the pan, until a viscous sauce developed and flipped them over so that the sauce coated all surfaces.

I served hot with a sprinkling of powder “sansho”  山椒. Because I used only breast meat, it was a bit on the dry side especially when it was reheated later. But this is another good way to use up cooked chicken.

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