Chanko or chanko-nabe, the staple dish of sumo wrestlers, is a nutritious, hearty one-pot meal consisting of broth, vegetables, meat or seafood. Chanko served during sumo tournaments features chicken rather
than beef because a chicken is considered good luck in sumo. A chicken
walks on two legs, not four; similarly, a sumo wrestler loses the
match if he is knocked off his feet and touches the ground with his
hands or any part of his body.
1 medium chicken
2 medium onions
3 or 4 carrots (optional)
2 or 3 negi onions (substitute large leeks)
1 daikon radish (optional)
1 medium or large potato
10 to 12 shiitake mushrooms (dried shiitake may be used; reconstitute in tepid water and drain)
1 medium cabbage
1 or 2 cakes aburage (deep-fried tofu)
1 cake koyadofu (dried tofu) or fresh tofu
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin (sweet sake) or 1/2 cup sake with 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 or 2 packs udon (wheat noodles; substitute egg noodles)
1. Bone the chicken; cut meat into 1 1/2 - to 2-inch chunks; save the bones for soup stock.
2. Slice negi (or leeks) and all but one of the carrots into bite-sized pieces.
3. Fill a large stew pot with water and place over medium-low heat.
4. Add the bones with the negi and sliced carrots and simmer, uncovered, about 3 hours to make soup stock.
5. Slice the daikon and potato and parboil in a separate pot, reserve it.
6. Cut the onion and shiitake into quarters, chop the cabbage into small pieces, cut the cakes of tofu and remaining carrot into bit-sized chunks.
7. Add all sliced ingredients and soy sauce to the stock pot and simmer until the fresh vegetables are cooked.
8. Then add the parboiled vegetables.
9. Season to taste with mirin or its equivalent and salt.
10. Simmer a few minutes more; serve hot.
11. After finishing the chanko, reheat the soup with udon noodles and serve in deep soup bowls.