After quite a bit of gluttony in the past few weeks, I was craving something both soothing yet healthy for dinner. I had toyed around with the idea of a hotpot or a nabe but was feeling a bit lazy to drag out the tabletop burner and big clay pot. I wanted something that could be put together on my stovetop and could be eaten in front of the telly – a bad habit, I know, but there’s lots of stuff on our dining table and I was too lazy to clear that too! Then I remembered a particular dish Blai had at Ten Ten Tei ages ago – it was a hearty soup with lots of ingredients in it, served with white rice. This tonjiru, a pork and miso soupy stew, was exactly what I craved: lots of comforting rice and something hot and soupy to slurp up. Tonjiru I would make.

A Pot of Tonjiru

After swinging by a Japanese shop not too far away, I came home with lots of Japanese vegetables, some tofu, and some red miso paste. You can see the ingredients I used below but again, feel free to mix and match as you please. Mushrooms wouldn’t be amiss here either – use some fresh shitake or enoki. The recipe is very easy and dinner was on the table (ok, coffee table) in about half an hour. It’s ridiculously comforting with the pork giving a rich flavour to the soup. It’s also very healthy what with all the vegetables in there!

Tonjiru and Rice for Dinner

serves 3-4

200g pork, not too lean – I used a pork chop
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 small potato, cleaned and cut into bite-sized chunks
3-4 inch length of daikon, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
half a leek, sliced
3-4 inch chunk of lotus root, sliced and cut in half if too large
3-4 inch piece of burdock (gobo), sliced thinly
a medium sized chunk of firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tbsps sunflower oil
dashi (I used water and dashi powder)
red miso
2 spring onions, finely sliced

Soak the sliced burdock in water for 5 minutes. Slice the pork into thin strips and cut up all the vegetables.

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the oil. Saute the pork until just cooked and then add all the vegetables, except the spring onions. Saute for another minute or two and add enough water to cover (or more if you like soup!). I used 4 cups of water. Bring it all to a boil and then turn down the heat and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

For each cup of water that was added, you’ll want to use about 1 tbsp of miso paste – so, 4 tbsps was how much I used. Dissolve the miso paste into the hot soup – take care not to boil the soup after adding the miso. Sprinkle with the spring onions and serve with white rice.