Thick Rice Soup with Chicken, Chives, and Ginger

Ojiya

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

The word ojiya, in Japanese, has motherly overtones; being served it means you’re being well cared for. In the wintertime in Japan, this porridgelike dish is made by many a woman for her husband and children, since the soothing soup is thought to relieve all manner of symptoms from overindulgence at an office party to the loss of appetite that often comes with the common cold. In that respect, I guess this thick rice soup is the Japanese equivalent of Western chicken soup, which is thought to have similar restorative powers. I personally crave ojiya soup most when I’m physically fit, and serve it with a large green salad or assorted pickled vegetables. I highly recommend Thick Rice Soup to you on any chilly evening; it’s Japanese homey, cozy cooking with a universal appeal. The fact that it provides you with a fine use for cooked rice that might be left over from another meal is an extra bonus.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart tori-gara dashi (basic chicken stock)
  • 2–2 ½ cups cooked rice; leftovers are perfect
  • 1½–2 chicken breasts, ¾ pound in all with skin and bones removed
  • 2 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger juice (extracted from freshly grated ginger)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Method

Heat the chicken stock in a large pot. Place the cooked rice in a strainer and rinse under cold water to separate the grains and remove excess starch. Drain the rice thoroughly before adding it to the chicken stock. Simmer the rice in the stock over low heat for 10 minutes, or until each grain of rice swells to at least twice its original size. Prepare the chicken, ginger juice, and chives while the soup is simmering.

Preheat your broiler. Marinate the chicken breasts in the rice wine for 1–2 minutes. Remove them and sprinkle salt on both sides. Under a hot broiler, cook the salted chicken 3–4 inches from the source of heat for 6–7 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for another 2–3 minutes. The chicken is done when the surface is very slightly charred in some places and only lightly colored in others. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers into thin strips about ¼ inch wide and 1 ½ inches long. The irregular surface has more taste this way than cut with a knife. Add the chicken strips to the simmering rice soup. Cook for 1 minute.

Grate fresh ginger and squeeze the gratings to release 1 teaspoon of juice. Add it to the pot and stir. Serve immediately in deep bowls and sprinkle with chopped chives.