Although the weather has been unusually warm and sunny here in the Bay area for the past few weeks, I was craving Tonjiru (豚汁,とんじる), a classic hearty umami-flavored miso-based soul-satisfying pork soup, usually made in the winter. Ton is defined as pork, and jiru meaning soup. Depending on the region, this can also be called Butajiru (豚汁,ぶたじる).
Although my updated and more modern (or even California) version is so dense with a variety of yummies, that perhaps I should call it a rustic stew? Instead of using the more traditional pork and or pork belly, I replaced it with fresh salmon chunks and added in uncured bacon for an extra layer of flavor and to stay true to the original recipe of Tonjiru. But, you can delete the bacon, although technically it can’t then be called Tonjiru anymore! I even added in kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), a favorite of mine, along with lots of other root vegetables and tofu. You can play around with the ingredients and add in others that you may prefer, such as potatoes. That’s the fun, versatility and flexibility of making Tonjiru. I also used a milder white miso in this dish, which also helped to keep it light, so that it can be enjoyed year-round if you like. This is an easy and quick main course and or substantial soup that is a great addition to your Japanese cooking repertoire.
I have been asked by many of my Facebook readers recently to post the recipe, so here it is! Be sure to check out the basic miso soup recipe first!
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Salmon and Vegetable Tonjiru Soup
- 6 cups dashi stock
- 1 tbsp Japanese sesame oil
- 3/4 pound salmon fillets*, cut into thick slices, skinned and deboned
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger, or to taste, optional
- 3 slices uncured bacon*, cut thickly, optional
- 1-2 tbsps cooking oil
- 1 white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup peeled, seeded and cubed Japanese pumpkin (kabocha)
- 3/4 cup peeled daikon radish, cut into half moon slices
- 1/2 cup peeled and thinly sliced or shredded gobo (burdock root)
- 3 satoimo (Japanese taro), peeled and cut into half moon slices
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thick circles
- 1/2 block konnyaku (konjac), cut in half and thinly sliced
- 5-6 tbsps white miso**, to taste
- shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced, optional
- 1 block firm tofu, drained and cut into medium-sized cubes
- 1/4 cup minced green onions
- Shichimitogarashi (7 spice pepper) optional
- Prep all of your ingredients. The goal is to cut all of your ingredients into uniform and similar sizes.
- Make your dashi and set aside.
- In a deep pot, saute the ginger and bacon (if using) in sesame oil until slightly browned. Remove the bacon from pot, leaving the ginger, and add in oil. Cook onion and other ingredients such as gobo, kabocha, daikon, taro, and carrot until slightly softened. Add in konnyaku, and mushrooms (if using).
- Pour in hot dashi stock. Add in salmon and bacon, if using. Bring to a high simmer. If needed, skim off any scum from top of the soup. Cook until all the vegetables are tender.
- Turn off heat and add in miso using a strainer. Taste. You may want to add in more miso at this point. Add in tofu and gently stir to heat up thoroughly. If you need to reheat do so gently but never boil as you will lessen the flavor of the miso.
- To serve, ladle into deep soup bowls and top with green onions. Pass shichimitogarashi separately. Eat immediately.
- *Replace the salmon with the more traditional thinly sliced pork and or pork belly (use up to 1/2 lb). If doing so, then saute with the ginger. Delete the bacon if doing this version.
- **Don’t use Kyoto white miso in this dish. It would make it too sweet. Just use plain white miso.
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