Kinchaku is the word for a cloth pouch used to carry small items. It was traditionally used when wearing a kimono or yukata (summer kimono), and was sometimes hung from the obi (kimono’s “belt”). Nowadays people also put kinchaku in their purse to carry items such as their cellphone, some cosmetics, or even their lunch.In this Japanese recipe, deep-fried tofu called aburaage (pronounced “aburah ahgeh”) is used as a pouch containing a small block of mochi (rice cake). Aburaage, meaning oil-fried, also known as usuage meaning thin fried (as opposed to atsuage, a thick block of firm fried tofu), is fried on the outside, but soft on the inside. When cut in half, it’s easy to separate the two outer faces, leaving the inside empty and waiting to be stuffed!Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice. It can be moulded into different shapes, and is used both in desserts and savoury recipes.Another common kinchaku filling is raw egg – just make sure the pouch doesn’t tear! Other popular and easy fillings are kiriboshi daikon, konnyaku noodles, tofu or minced meat and veggies like carrot, hijiki or green peas.Kinchaku is a commonly eaten in oden, and is also popular in bentos and as a side dish.
- 2 pieces aburaage
- 2 blocks mochi about 4cm×6.5cm
- 200 mL dashi
- 1½ tbsp mirin
- 1½ tbsp soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp sugar
- 4 toothpicks
- Pour boiling water over the aburaage to remove excess oil. Cut both pieces in half and use a rolling pin or hit with the back of a knife to soften them (this will make them easier to open).Cut the mochi blocks in half.
- Slowly pull apart the two faces of each piece of aburaage, taking care not to break them.
- Put a mochi cube inside an aburaage pouch, then fold the top closed in a zigzag pattern, like a fan. Thread a toothpick through the folds to hold the pack closed. Repeat for the other 3 pieces.
- Put the broth ingredients into a pot, add the tofu pouches and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover with a drop lid and simmer for 20 minutes.