Stewed Turnips and Chicken Balls

Kokabu To Toriniku Dango

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves



Appears in

At Home with Japanese Cooking

At Home with Japanese Cooking

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1986

  • About

Here is a very tasty combination of seasoned ground chicken and turnips, stewed in a faintly sweet broth and garnished with lemon peel.


  • 1 dried shiitake (black Oriental mushroom)
  • 1 pound ground uncooked chicken
  • ½ beaten egg
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons saké (rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 6–8 small white turnips, with their leaves or ¼ pound fresh spinach or collard greens if turnip leaves are unavailable

Stewing liquid

  • 2⅓ cups dashi (Basic Soup Stock)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Peel from ½ lemon


Cover the dried mushroom for 15–20 minutes with warm water to which a pinch of sugar has been added. Rinse the mushroom under cold water, remove and discard the stem and squeeze out excess liquid. Chop the mushroom into very fine dice.

In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg and cornstarch. Add the diced mushroom and season the meat mixture with ginger, salt, rice wine, sugar and soy sauce. Mix all thoroughly and dampen your hands with water before making 10–12 balls from the soft meat mixture.

Peel the turnips and cut them in half. Select 12–15 of the prettiest leaves and blanch them in boiling salted water for 30 seconds. They should be bright in color and only barely wilted after blanching. Drain the blanched leaves and squeeze out any excess moisture. Cut into 1–1½-inch lengths.

Combine the stewing liquid ingredients in a deep pot and, stirring occasionally, bring it to a boil. Drop the chicken balls, one at a time, into the boiling liquid. Swirl and stir the liquid to prevent sticking. When all the balls have become firm and white, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add the turnip pieces and simmer, covered with a dropped lid (or uncovered, ladling liquid over frequently), for 10–15 minutes. Add the blanched leaves during the final minute of cooking. Cut the lemon peel into 4–6 decorative shapes (matsuba cutting) and float them on top of the stew just before removing the pot from the stove. Serve warm or at room temperature.