In addition to the standard Tonjiru ingredients (even though we have mentioned you can basically put anything you want), some regions add fresh local vegetables to Tonjiru, and each region has its own unique characteristics.
In Hokkaido prefecture, potatoes and onions are used instead of satoimo taro and negi leeks. Both of these ingredients have a strong sweet flavor, so they go well with Hokkaido's dry miso. The starch dissolved from the potatoes is also perfect for thickening. Some families add butter on top to add sweetness and richness to the finish.
Tonjiru in Niigata Prefecture is characterized by the large amount of onions and tofu used in the soup, with at least one onion per serving, stewed in the water from the onion and a small amount of dashi broth. It comes out simple, but the sweetness of the ingredients is enhanced.
In Ibaraki Prefecture, which has the nation's largest harvest of renkon lotus root, it is also added to tonjiru. Slicing it thinly and boiling it quickly gives it a crunchy texture. Since renkon becomes light and flaky when cooked, thick slices are also recommended. Grate the renkon to make it thicker (the photo above), so you can arrange it according to your taste. Instead of using a knife, beat the renkon with a rolling pin to make bite-sized pieces, so that the flavor can be absorbed easily.
Root vegetables are the standard ingredients for tonjiru, but in the Kansai region, leafy greens such as Hakusai napa cabbage and cabbage are used in abundance. By simmering them thoroughly, the leafy vegetables develop a mild sweetness. Since they release water, the broth should be adjusted to a thicker consistency.
In Kyushu, especially Kagoshima, famous for its satsumaimo sweet potato, it is often used in place of potatoes. The use of mugi barley miso, which has a light, sweet, and savory flavor, makes this tonjiru different from those made in other parts of Japan. Add yuzu kosho (yuzu citrus pepper) to the finish for a fresh aroma and a tangy spiciness.
You can enjoy different kinds of tonjiru by incorporating ingredients from different regions. As a side note, not only the ingredients, but also the way it is called differs from region to region. More than 80% of the population in Kyushu, including Fukuoka and Miyazaki prefectures, calls it butajiru, while Toyama and Mie prefectures also call it butajiru. On the other hand, tonjiru is more common in the Tokyo, Tohoku, Tokai, and Kansai regions.
Which region's tonjiru do you like, or would you like to try?
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