Happy Donabe Life

Classic Chicken and Root Vegetable Stew


This is a traditional stew called Chikzen-ni, and is often served in a Japanese New Year meal, and one of my favorite New Year dishes since I was a child. The root vegetables such as burdock, lotus, carrot and sato-imo (taro) are cooked with konnyaku (yam jelly), dry shiitake, and chicken in dashi, and seasoned with soy sauce and black sugar. The flavor is so rich and you can really enjoy the nice earthy flavors.

When I serve this dish in the New Year, I cut the lotus and carrot into decorative shapes, but for any regular occasion, that’s not necessary.

Although I love the flavor of the chicken in Chikuzen-ni, this dish can easily be converted into a vegan dish by simply omit the chicken and use vegan dashi (i.e. kombu and dry shiitake dashi). You can also make it gluten-free by substituting the soy sauce and white tamari with tamari soy sauce.

Vegan option

Use Kombu & Shiitake Dashi instead of Kombu & Bonito Dashi. Omit Chicken.


Classic-style Donabe (2.5-qt/ 2,500 ml or larger)


4 - 6


  • 14 oz (400 g) boneless chicken thighs, cut into large bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon liquid shio-koji or 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 10 oz (300 g) lotus root, peeled and cut 1/3″ (8 mm) thick crosswise
  • 6 oz (180 g) burdock root, cut into oblique
  • 5 medium sato-imo (taro), peeled and cut into half
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 8 oz (240g) konnyaku (yam jelly), rinsed and cut 1/4″ (6 mm) thick crosswise, and make twists
  • 6 medium-small to medium dry shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, destemmed, and cut into half (reserve about 1/2 cup or 120 ml of the soaking water)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) sake
  • about 2 cups (480 ml) combination of the reserved soaking water for dry shiitake mushrooms and kombu and bonito dashi
  • 3 tablespoons Okinawa black sugar or raw brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white tamari (can substitute with soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz (120 g) carrot, peeled and cut 1/3″ (8 mm) thick crosswise
  • 4 oz (120 g) cooked bamboo shoots, cut into bite-size pieces (optional)
  • 2 oz (60 g) snow peas, blanched
  • Shichimi togarashi, for serving


  1. Combine the chicken with the liquid shio-koji in a resealable bag. Let the chicken marinade for a few hours (or at least 30 minutes).
  2. Soak the lotus, burdock root, and sato-imo in cold water in separate bowls for 3 – 5 minutes as soon as they are cut. Drain.
  3. Heat the sesame oil in donabe and sauté the lotus root, burdock root, konnyaku, and rehydrated dry shiitake mushrooms over medium-heat.
  4. Add the sake, reserved soaking water for  the shiitake mushrooms, and enough dashi to barely cover the ingredients. Add the sugar and mirin.
  5. Cover with lid and bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the soy sauce and white tamari. Line the surface of the contents with a otoshibuta (drop-lid) or a piece of aluminum foil. Cover with lid again, and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, or until all the ingredients are just tender.
  7. Meanwhile, combine the sato-imo and enough water to cover in a pot. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse.
  8. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook both sides until golden brown (2 – 3 minutes each side).
  9. Add the sato-imo (gently push them to the bottom so that they will absorb the broth nicely), chicken (without the pan juice), carrot, and bamboo shoots to the donabe. Cover with lid again and continue to simmer for 7 – 10 minutes or until everything is cooked through.
  10. Garnish with blanched snow peas and present at the dining table. Serve into individual bowls and sprinkle some shichimi togarashi, if you like.

Served with other Japanese New Year dishes.


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