Prep 40 mins
Cook 3 hrs 30 mins
"Chanko" is the traditional soup/chowder food of Japanese Sumo wrestlers and wrestlers in training to maintain their strength and build muscle. It means "foods prepared and eaten by riskishi (a rank of sumo)" and is a popular form of "nabe" (the best known form of nabe for Americans is suki yake). There are as many recipes for chanko as there are for chili ... and each one is wonderful!! This recipe comes from a web posting via slate.com ("From Soup to Guts" by Franz Lidz, posted November 30, 2004). This is the recipe of Konishiki, an American (Honolulu) grand rikishi, who tipped the scales at 630 pounds when in fighting form!! Now retired, he runs a restaurant (he's now a svelte 580, thanks to his 112 lb wife) and is famous for ... his chanko! Chanko isn't fattening ... unless you eat it by the gallon (the record, apparently, is held by Takamisugi, who ate 65 bowls -- 29 pounds of beef -- at one sitting!!) ... it's a wonderful lunch, especially in cold weather. This version uses chicken, but others use many other ingredients -- I'll be adding other recipes. The Sumo tradition is not to use any animal that keeps all four feet on the ground ... and to a sumo, all four extremities on the ground is a sign of defeat ... so, it's rare to find a beef chanko, for example, or a purely fish chanko (no hands, no feet -- not a wrestler's ideal)!
- 1 (4 lb) whole chickens (boned) or 4 -5 lbs chicken parts, as desired
- 1 Chinese cabbage, chopped into bite size pieces
- 1⁄2 daikon radish, chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 eggplant, sliced
- 3 leeks
- 4 onions, quartered
- 5 carrots (4 sliced, 1 cut into bite-size pieces)
- 12 shiitake mushrooms, quartered
- 16 ounces fresh tofu, chopped into bite size pieces
- 1⁄2 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup sake
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 (16 ounce) packages udon noodles
- Debone the chicken and save the bones to make the stock.
- If you don't want to make chicken stock, use a commercial low sodium chicken broth (32-34 oz).
- Cut the chicken meat into 2-inch chunks.
- Fill a large stock pot (10-12 quarts) with water (see amount below) and soy sauce (use"regular" soy sauce-- what the Chinese would call"thin" sauce-- don't use the"thick" or"double" sauce).
- If you're making the stock from the chicken bones, add the chicken bones to 6-8 quarts of water and simmer for three hours, skimming the top constantly.
- If you're using chicken broth, add the broth to the soy sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Trim the leeks (cut off the green part and the roots), then either slice lengthwise about 3/4 of the way down and rinse (to get rid of any sandy soid inside the leek or soak top down in cold water to let the sand out).
- In a separate pot, with rapidly boiling water, blanch the daikon, eggplant and four sliced carrots[should take about 1-2 minutes], then drain.
- Add chicken meat and giblets to the stock base, skimming the top thouroughly.
- Add all the vegetables (cabbage, daikon, eggplant, leeks, onions, the remaining carrot, mushrooms) and tofu to the stock pot.
- Simmer until cooked (about 30-40 min).
- Season with salt and sake, to taste.
- Stir and simmer for 2-3 minutes to let seasonings mix.
- Re-taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Serve hot with steamed rice-- then add the udon noodles, continue to let the broth simmer and serve hot.
- Use the stock as a base-- continue to add chicken, vegetables, noodles indefinitely.