Eat like a sumo wrestler: Chankonabe recipe

Chankonabe text

This hearty, clean tasting bowl o’goodness is modelled on the sort of food that they feed to sumo wrestlers in Japan – but don’t be put off from trying it for fear of putting on weight. When it comes to food, sumo wrestlers go for quality and quantity – piling on the pounds with vast amounts of really good, healthy food.

Chankonabe is a kind of nabemono, or one pot dish, where all of the diners help themselves from a central, simmering stew. Not only does the tabletop stove the stew sits upon keep the diners warm in winter, but by sharing, friendships and familial ties are strengthened. Because sumos live together in groups in so-called stables, there is an obvious advantage to sharing meals – and although the origins of the word ‘chanko’ are unclear, many think the word comes from ‘chan’, for father and ‘ko’, for child, indicating the strong ties between a stablemaster and his trainees.

The chanko-ban, or chanko cook (that’s you, if you’re following my recipe!) is usually a junior sumo wrestler. There are no rules about what goes in chankonabe – the contents are dictated by the seasons, what’s in the kitchen, and personal taste. But generally, chicken is favoured, and beef and fish could be considered bad luck, as both represent a sumo in defeat (on all fours, or completely legless!).

Is it really chankonabe if it’s not served to or by a sumo? Well, maybe not – but eat it with a warrior spirit! This recipe will serve six adults, so it’s great for an informal dinner with friends.

Chankonabe ingredients

Ingredients text

  • Four chicken breasts or thighs, skin-on for authenticity
  • 3 litres chicken stock
  • 1 large, white potato, peeled
  • 1/3 of a daikon radish, peeled
  • 2 peeled carrots
  • 3-4 heads pak choi (depending on size)
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 12 shiitake mushrooms (approx 125g)
  • 1 block firm tofu (or packet deep fried tofu)
  • Enoki mushrooms
  • 125ml soy sauce
  • 60ml mirin
  • Salt
  • 1 package cooked udon noodles (optional)

Chankonabe method

Method text

  • If using fried tofu, place in a colander and blanch with boiling water to remove excess oil. When cutting the vegetables, try to cut them diagonally to make them look nicer.
  • Slice the radish, potato and carrot, parboil (submerge into boiling water for around five minutes), then drain and keep to one side.
  • Slice the pak choi into chunks. Wash the leeks and slice white parts only. Cut the chicken into 2-inch chunks, keeping the skin on. Prepare the shiitake mushrooms by wiping them with a damp cloth and trimming down the stalks. The enoki mushrooms should be trimmed and separated into smaller bundles.
  • Add the chicken stock, chicken, onions, shiitake mushrooms, leek and tofu to a large pan, and bring to the boil. Add your soy sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the ingredients are cooked. Keep skimming off any scum that might form.
  • Add the potato, radish, carrot and pak choi and simmer for five more minutes. Add the mirin and shimeji mushrooms, then simmer for a few more minutes and season to taste with salt.
  • Serve in a pot simmering on a tabletop stove, or alternatively, dish into bowls. Seconds are compulsory!
  • Once you have had your fill of the chankonabe, remove any remaining ingredients, then add the udon noodles to the soup, simmer for around five minutes, and serve with the broth.

Chankonabe cooking

I have a portable, tabletop stove that I like to use for this, but you can serve yourselves from the pot at the table without having heat under it, as it stays warm for a while due to the sheer volume of food inside!

Chankonabe finished

It may seem like a simple dish, but somehow, the finished product is so much greater than the sum of its parts. I made this for my cousin and mum back in 2009, and they still talk about it… Maybe it’s time to make it again!

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Meon Shore picnic

This evening, we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and go for an impromptu picnic at Meon Shore, which is about 20 minutes drive from us. First off we popped by Marks and Spencer to pick up some reduced picnic goodies, then we jumped in the car and headed off!

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Taupe Suede Plimsolls, Mint Velvet
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On the way back we stopped at a little produce stand and picked up some onions for dinner tomorrow – can’t think of a more perfect end to a lovely evening!
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Hawksmoor Air Street

For my husband’s 30th birthday, we visited Hawksmoor on Air Street, just off Regents Street. I’d heard this was one of the best places in London for steak, and I was certainly not disappointed.

The real stand out for the whole meal was actually totally unexpected and a real treat – cornflake milkshake!

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We totally ordered this by chance but I’m so glad we did – it was delicious and incredibly unique. It was super sweet with a hint of malt to it, and the cornflakes on the top added a great texture.

Plus, gotta love those classic milkshake glasses!

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At first, we just ordered one to taste, but when it came I insisted on getting my own!

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If there’s a meal worth getting fat for, it would surely include at least one cornflake milkshake…

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This was my husband’s starter – Doddington Caesar salad. It’s a bit of a running joke between us as the cheese also sounds a bit like his surname… It was pretty unusual to have cheddar on a Caesar salad, and it wasn’t until I tasted it myself that I appreciated the difference in texture – the waxy feel of cheddar is very different to the drier, textured feel of Parmesan.

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I had the Tamworth belly ribs – I did want the potted beef and bacon with Yorkshires, but the waiter told us the chef wasn’t happy with the quality and asked us to select something else. To be honest, they were slightly dry in places, but very rich and great with the red cabbage. As usual, when serving salad and a meat dish to a table seated with a man and a woman, the waiter tried to give me the salad – this always happens when we go out together and perhaps I should take the hint and start ordering lighter options!

We opted for the express menu, which I think is excellent value, but does limit your choice of main course steak cut to just the rib eye. No matter, that’s my favourite! Here’s the piece de resistance:

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Two gorgeous rib eyes, two sides of triple cooked chips, and a dish of Stilton hollandaise.

Without doubt, this was the best steak I have ever had. Meaty, beefy, robust – it was everything a steak should be. Tender in all the right places, cooked perfectly as a medium rare. If you ever wondered what aged beef tasted like, or why it was so much better than regular steak, I invite you to go to Hawksmoor and discover it for yourself. Absolutely phenomenal. It totally blew the steak I had at the Hind’s Head last month out of the water.

One aspect in which Hawksmoor couldn’t compete with Heston was on the triple cooked chips front. They certainly looked the part, but there was a suspicious taste about them which made me wonder whether they were yesterday’s batch… Anyone brought up with thrifty parents can recognise the taste of reheated potato, and that’s the taste I was getting from these. Unfortunate if they weren’t just reheated, unfortunate if they were – no win either way! But they were beautifully crunchy and did the job of soaking up the juices well.

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The Stilton hollandaise was delicious – but just as with bernaise sauce, I found myself feeling stuffed after a few swipes at it – there’s something about an egg based sauce with steak that sits just on the wrong side of richness for me. Next time I’ll try the bone marrow gravy, but to be honest, I’d literally only eaten this exact same dish at the Hind’s Head two weeks’ before, so I thought I should at least chance the sauce!

I definitely recommend a visit to Hawksmoor Air Street – the express menu is just £23 for two courses, available between 12-18.30 and after 22.00. As a steak-hound, I thought it couldn’t get any better… but I was wrong. The best steak in London (so far!). http://thehawksmoor.com/

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Afternoon Tea at The Rubens

At the weekend, my friends and I went to London for afternoon tea at The Rubens At The Palace!

Afternoon Tea at The Rubens

My friend had bought some vouchers so it ended up costing us £16.50 per person, which was pretty reasonable.

The room we ate in was beautiful, and although our table was pretty low, it made it easier to take photos!

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I wore my Hush leopard print scarf, and a wine coloured skater dress from ASOS (saw it on The Lilac Pages and fell in love, it’s such a great shape!).

Afternoon tea at The Rubens

Our sandwiches were delicious – the chicken bun was particularly good, with flaked almonds giving it a great texture. There wasn’t really enough cream to go around on the scones, and the jam was weirdly runny, but to be honest, we enjoyed the scones anyway. They were light inside but slightly crisp on the outside, which was tasty indeed!

Afternoon tea at The Rubens

The cakes were slightly hit or miss – I had a try of everything except the banoffee cupcake, and some of them were very good, but the layer cake was a tiny bit stale… But, hey – there was plenty of tea! I much preferred the Assam to the English blend they had, which is uncharacteristic. Usually I’m completely the opposite of a tea connoisseur.

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The great thing about The Rubens is that it’s so close to Buckingham Palace, so we popped on over when we’d had our fill (and yes, we were stuffed at the end!).

Buckingham Palace

All in all, I wouldn’t pick The Rubens over the other places I’ve been for afternoon tea in London (hey, The Ritz is pretty darn snazzy, y’hear?) but it was lovely to try somewhere new. The voucher price (through Virgin) was decent enough for four people, although the current deal isn’t too much of a saving on their listed price!

(Psst, don’t forget, UK readers can enter my competition to win 12 share bags of Popchips here!)

The 1953 Vintage Diet: Day Three

Yesterday was the third day of the vintage diet, and I was actually on the day that’s written on the sheet! I had to skip Wednesday because the lamb I bought had to be eaten, so here’s what was on the plan:

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As usual, I took this as more of a guideline, and had my usual toast and Flora in the morning (146 calories), saving the haddock for lunch. Cooking anything for breakfast is a bit of a nightmare, in my opinion, but I can just about manage toast. It did mean that lunch was pretty darn tasty, though – a bed of spinach, topped with a poached egg and some poached haddock, plus the fruit salad (only 300 calories)!

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Dinner was an eccentric proposal to say the least – endive and watercress salad with lamb cutlets? I couldn’t face the prospect of not having anything with that, so I cheated and added some wild rice. This is a pretty big cheat in all honesty, because the idea seems to be no carbs in the evening, but I definitely didn’t have enough lamb to make up for the lack of carbs…

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This meal (including the rhubarb, which I bought in a tin) came to about 500 calories, so the day wasn’t too bad at all… Except… Well, let’s just say, I broke down slightly at about half ten, when I was still working on my deadline and feeling pretty sorry for myself, so I ate a packet of Poppets. There may have been some white mice involved too. Either way, I pretty much nixed my calories for the day. But, the only way to be successful at something if you don’t get it right first time is to try again, right? The absolute worst thing you can do on a diet is to give up after a little hiccup. So… ONWARD!

The 1953 Vintage Diet: Day Two

My second day on the 1953 diet continued in a very similar vein to the first – namely, swapping things around! Here’s what I was scheduled to eat today, and when:

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I don’t know about you, but making cauliflower and braised onions at lunch isn’t my idea of a relaxing break… I ended up dispensing with the orange for breakfast, and the sliced lamb for lunch (no idea where to get deli lamb from, in all honesty…). I then moved the cauliflower to dinner, and the cheese and biscuits to lunch. Are you keeping up? It’s getting a little bit complicated round these parts!

I very clumsily worked out the original calories of this plan as 287 for breakfast, 343 for lunch, and 421 for dinner – but that was before I worked out how to make the braised cauliflower and onions, so the end result for me ended up being higher even after I ditched the lamb and orange. (The end total was around 1050 calories.)

So, for breakfast, I had a scrambled egg on toast with tea, which was 247 calories. Lunch was three cream crackers, a slice of mature cheese, and a pear (delicious lunch, actually, I enjoyed that – shame it wasn’t all that filling), with a snack of vegetable cup-a-soup around mid afternoon. I was honestly so ravenous by then that I couldn’t give two figs whether it technically counted as ‘broth’ or not – the instructions specifically tell you not to eat thick soups, and this one had CROUTONS in it. Croutons. So that took me to a calorie count of around 318.

Dinner was about 463 calories, technically – although I did steal one of my husband’s potato croquettes which was 87 calories. Wow. (A potato waffle is only 100 or so!) I didn’t steam the fish, I fried it with some olive oil spray. Together with the peas and the braised cauliflower and onions, it was actually pretty tasty!

The braised cauliflower was awesome. I had only a vague idea about how you would go about making this dish, so I Googled it and adapted this recipe. I ended up sauteeing one small onion in a teaspoon of olive oil and 10g of butter until golden, then adding 400g of frozen cauliflower and 10g more butter, and frying until coloured in patches. Then, I added half a beef stock cube and water up to the halfway point of the veggies, and I simmered until the liquid was practically gone and the cauliflower was soft – and tasty! This serves two, by the way, but you can easily reheat it for another dinner. It ends up being around 185 calories a portion, because of the butter, which is terrible really (the cauliflower is only 50 calories for 200g!), but I imagine this is how it would have been made around the time the diet plan was created. Butter definitely plays a role in most of the diet plans I’ve seen from the ’50s. Hardship, right?

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I am aware that this looks utterly replusive, but I assure you, it tasted delicious.

All in all, with my teas and coffees, today was just under 1300 calories. Usually I’d make sure to be doing plenty of exercise along with this, but unfortunately, my work schedule is nuts this week – and to be honest, I’d rather blog. Ha. With calorie counts like these, I’d imagine that there would be a weight loss of around 1lb in a week. I haven’t dared weigh myself since Christmas, to be honest – which isn’t helpful for measuring results, but I think the alternative would actually be soul destroying at this point. Maybe I should try to fit in some of these great little retro exercises I found in The Book of The Home II (1956). Do you think I could do them and type at the same time if I cheated a little on the arm movements…?

A useful exercise for general reducing...

The 1953 diet previously posted at the Tuppence Ha’penny blog.

What to do with left over turkey at Thanksgiving

Leftovers at Thanksgiving can be so much more than a simple rehash of that Turkey Day meal (although, let’s face it, that’d be pretty darn delicious anyway!). Try these recipes for delicious leftovers – I promise you, none of them will feel like second-best meals! In fact, you might be tempted to roast another turkey (or chicken) just to make some more!

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Week One: Feel Good Chicken Broth - Broth before stock

Sweet treats for your Royal buffet

Victoria sponge cake

Image via Wikipedia

CLASSIC BRITISH TREATS

Victoria sponge

A beautifully simple, light cake – classically British, of course – dusted with icing sugar and filled with jam would make the perfect addition to your table. Add whipped cream and fresh fruit to make it even more indulgent!

Gin and Tonic jelly

A great Nigella Lawson recipe – a grown up version of a party staple, and what better way to toast in the newly weds than with some gin and tonic!

Sweet vanilla cream and dulce de leche butterfly cakes

My own recipe for ridiculously delicious caramel and cream butterfly cakes. Forget cupcakes!

Scones with clotted cream and jam

You could make your own scones with this excellent recipe, but, equally, I’m sure no one will mind if you buy it in…

Lemongrass and raspberry trifle

Another Nigella recipe – and if you fancy a classic version, there are tonnes out there for sherry trifle!

Eton Mess

Legend has it this was invented at at Eton College – which is where Prince William was educated, of course, making this the perfect dish to serve on the big day. Just remember to mix it just before serving, because the meringues will melt otherwise! This is Delia’s recipe, but you can also add a splash of Pimm’s at the last minute to transform it into an ever more celebrationary dish!

What drinks to serve at a royal wedding watching party

Pimms anyone

Image by Walt Jabsco via Flickr

You’ve got a host of people over to watch Will and Kate tie the knot – but what the heck do you give them to drink, apart from good, old fashioned tea, of course? Check out this handy list of the best British tipples for your thirsty guests!

DRINKS

Fruit Cup

Pimms isn’t the only fruit cup you can make – check out this awesome blog for reviews of some other great fruit cup liquers! What could be better than a long glass of a fruit-studded cocktail on such a great day?

Buck’s Fizz / Mimosa

In the UK, we mostly have Buck’s Fizz, but whether you call it that or a Mimosa, there’s no denying this classic glass of bubbly and fruit juice is a right Royal winner!

Ginger Beer

You can buy your own, but you could try this great recipe for lashings of the stuff – the appropriate quantity for such a feast…

Lemonade

For your drivers and sober types, you need something without alcohol, lest you fall asleep before the vows are over… Making your own lemonade is easy, just combine lemon juice, water and sugar to taste.

Rhubarb, ginger and apple cocktail

Make use of some very British ingredients for this cool cocktail.

Royal Wedding Cocktail

Gin, Dubonnet, lemonade and pomegranate juice make this symbolic cocktail, especially formulated for Wills and Kate.

Make your own almond milk

Making Fresh Almond Milk

Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr

I’m no health nut, and I’m definitely not a vegan, but I love soya, almond, coconut and rice milk. I recently bought Jillian Michaels’ excellent Master Your Metabolism Cookbook, and she asks you to replace your diary with other products – specifically not soy, for various reasons. So, I purchased a litre of coconut milk and one of almond milk (and then had to carry them home four miles from the shop, but that’s a whole other story!) and discovered how delicious almond milk was in porridge and banana smoothies. I’d never had it before, and realised precisely why this was when I got to the health food shop – firstly, it’s quite hard to find (only in health food shops and Waitrose, it seems!) and secondly, it’s a whopping £3.00 a litre… Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s quite a lot for me, so I was pretty pleased to discover that it’s really easy to make your own almond milk at home! I’m not saying it tastes better than shop bought – I think the shop bought stuff is sweeter, but at home it gets a bit worrying to continually add honey to your mix, so I stopped after three teaspoons! However, it’s definitely cheaper, as once you’ve bought yourself a nut milk bag, you end up paying about £1.60 or so for every litre – basically, the cost of your almonds.

So, the recipe!

EQUIPMENT

  • Blender
  • Nut milk bag (buy these on eBay if you find them hard to track down)
  • Bowl
  • Jug

INGREDIENTS

  • 220g almonds
  • Water, to cover
  • 1 litre water, to make milk (4 cups)
  • Vanilla extract, optional
  • Honey or other natural sweetner, optional

METHOD

  • Cover your almonds with water (I like to rinse mine first as well) and leave to stand overnight, for at least 8 hours, and up to 12.
  • Drain away the soaking water (I rinse here again) and add the nuts to a blender.
  • Pour in your four cups / 1 litre water, then blend well. Add in the vanilla extract and sweetner to taste, if using.
  • Pour the mixture into a nut bag over a bowl or wide jug, and strain. You’ll have to help the process along by squeezing the bag to get the excess moisture out.
  • Your nut milk is ready! Keep in the fridge, covered, for up to four days.

The leftover almond meal is great for adding fibre to porridge, cereal, etc!