Chicken Broccoli

Cooking in Japan for noobs by a noob

I've been living in Japan for 5 months now, but up until recently my I've either eaten out at restaurants, picked up convenience store meals or cook Japanese food with my girlfriend who can read all the instructions. But since I recently moved into a new apartment, I've started trying to cook. Mainly I've just been cooking omelettes but I'm on a mission to cook better meals now.

So I got some ideas from my mom of some of my favourite meals from back home, and I'll try to make them here and document the process! This blog post will focus on how to cook Chicken Broccoli with a white sauce. In future posts I might do Japanese food or other western foods.

NOTE: I am new to cooking, so this will be easy!

I must note that 'broccoli' is a very difficult word to type. Anyways, please leave any complaints, questions, failures, successes in the comments below

Key points about this meal:

  • Takes like 20 minutes or less.
  • Easy to find ingredients
  • Big margin for error
  • Feeds: 1 person (with a big stomach)

This Broccoli Chicken

Equipment

It almost seems silly listing this, but as a foreigner in this country, I know it's possibly to get by without all the usual household equipment. So I'll list the equipment that I used below.

  • Spatula or mixing tool
  • Frying pan/skillet (フライパン)
  • Pyrex (or microwaveable) bowl or pie dish for broccoli
  • Gas Stove (コンロ) for cooking on
  • Microwave (レンジ/電子レンジ/チン) for the broccoli - if you don't have, you can blanch in a pot.
  • Cling film/wrap (サロンラップ/クレラップ)

Ingredients

Let's start by laying out all the ingredients that we need, and what they are called in Japan. I live in 溝の口 (Mizo-no-kuchi), and bought these ingredients in the grocery part of the local イトーヨーカドー (Ito-Yokado) store, although I already had onion and cheese in my apartment.

  • Chicken Breast (鶏むね肉 = tori-mune-niku - 300g)
    Chicken

    Here I bought a 312g chicken breast, which is more than enough for one person. The words for chicken, breast and meat are 鶏 (tori), むね (mune) and 肉 (niku) respectively. Together they form chicken breast meat as 鶏むね肉 (tori-mune-niku).

  • Broccoli (ブロッコリー = burokkorii)
    Broccoli

    At the shop they only sold broccoli in heads like this, as well as half-heads. I didn't weigh this, but it felt like it matched the chicken well. Try to judge for your self how much you want relative to the chicken.

  • Milk (牛乳 = gyuunyuu - 250ml)
    Milk

    This carton is about 250ml, but you won't need that much. The amount of sauce completely depends on how much you want and you can control that with the milk and flour amounts. The word comes from the word for cow 牛, which is pronounced うし (ushi) when it stands alone and means cow, but pronounced ぎゅう (gyuu) when in a compound word - and the word 乳 which doesn't usually stand alone, has a milk-related meaning and is pronounced にゅう (nyuu) in this case.

  • Wheat Flour (小麦粉 = komugiko)
    Flour

    This flour will be used in making the sauce, giving it thickness/substance. I believe you can also find it called フラワー (like my name), but you should be sure that it's not rice flour. Although I don't actually know that it would be a problem.

  • Butter (バター = bataa)
    Butter

    This is for frying in and for give the white (bechamel) sauce some flavour. At the shop there seemed to be a mix of margerine and butter. And although this is called "Corn soft", on the back there was a circle (maru/まる) next to 牛 (cow). So I knew it was dairy. But just have check when you're buying. Also note that I got the 22% Calorie Cut type, because I'm good and want to lost weight.

  • Chicken Consommé (チキンコンソメ = chikin-konsome) - 1 cube
    Stock

    In South Africa we had chicken stock in cubes. I did some research before shopping. You can get stock in many forms here: liquid, cubed, tea-bag type, etc. In general stock is called 出汁 (dashi), but I only saw that in liquid or tea-bag form. If you're looking for stock cubes, look for コンスメ (konsume) or ブイヨン (bouillon).

  • Salt & Pepper (塩,胡椒 = shio,koshou)
    Salt pepper

    I really don't need to explain this, these are part of every meal and I'm sure can figure them out. See salt/pepper mix in the image.

  • [optional] Soy Sauce (醤油 = shouyu)
    Soy sauce

    You don't really need this in the recipe, but I added a dash of it. Feel free to omit it. But if you're living in Japan, you have to have a bottle of soy sauce, and you have to call it shouyu. Also a very easy thing to find. This is a picture of my bottle.

  • [optional] Onion (玉ねぎ = tamanegi) - half
    Onion

    I used half of a leftover small onion I had in the fridge so that it wouldn't go to waste. Onion is always delicious, so add half an onion in if you feel like the extra flavour.

Method

Okay now that we've seen the required ingredients. That's the hardest part in my opinion. I find grocery shopping very challenging and time-consuming. For now. I'll try to keep the steps brief but clear. Note that we won't be making the sauce separately, but we'll do it together with everything else.

ChoppingBroccoli microwave

First wash the broccoli and break into small florets. Then put the florets in a pyrex pie dish, covering it with cling film/wrap (サロンラップ/クレラップ). Microwave at 800W for 4.5 minutes. Alternatively, you can boil/blanch them in a pot of water on the stove until they seem softer, but not too soft.

If you're using an onion, slice it into thin pieces.

Unpackage the chicken breasts onto a chopping board, sprinkle a decent amount of salt & pepper on them on either side. Then chop them up into cube-like pieces.

Frying

Put a very little bit of boiling water in a cup and add 1 chicken stock cube. Just enough water so that we can dissolve the cube a bit. We don't want to create too much liquid.

Turn the frying pan onto low-medium heat. Put a piece of butter into the pan - enough to fry the food, and a bit more to be soaked up. Add the chicken (and onion if you have), and chicken stock from the cup. Stir it all about, to mix in the stock and butter. Place the lid (if you have one) onto the pan, and mix about every now and then.

When it's mostly cooked — the chicken has just become white-ish — Add some more butter for the start of our sauce. The same amount of butter as before should be fine.

Add the broccoli, that we pre-cooked earlier, into the mix at this point too.

Now add some flour which will immediately thicken up the mixture, so have the milk ready for the next step. The amount of flour you add will determine the amount of sauce you end up with. It's easier to add all the flour at this point rather than adding more later.

Finished meal

Immediately add in the milk, bit by bit. Mixing it in and watching it dissolve. Keep adding and mixing until it is the thickness/consistency that you want. Take the pan off the heat when it looks ready.

So that's it. The instructions seem long, but I tried to explain all the details to make it as accurate as I could. It's really just mixing a bunch of ingredients. I hope you enjoy the meal. It was a great success, and I enjoyed sitting down under my こたつ (kotatsu), to eat and watch Dan Mohler on YouTube. haha.

Please let me know how it goes in the comments! Questions, complaints, clarification... anything. I'll just delete the bad comments so I look good though. ;) hahahaha.

Cheat Card - Short and Sweet:
  1. Blanch broccoli on stove or pre-cook in microwave for 4.5 minutes
  2. Chop up a half onion into slivers. Chop 300g chicken breast into cubes
  3. Fry onion and chicken with butter in frying pan on medium heat. Salt & Pepper. Cook until chicken is white.
  4. Add broccoli to the pan.
  5. Add a bit more butter and then some flour for the sauce.
  6. Add milk to the floury-thick mix to make the sauce liquidy. Add and mix until it looks good.
  7. DONE
  8. Add cheese if you want.