Chanko or chanko-nabe


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 
closes the match if he is knocked 
off his feet and touches the ground 
with his hands or any part of his body.

Chicken Chanko-nabe

Serves four


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 - 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)


Bone the chicken; cut meat into 
1 1/2 - to 2-inch chunks; save 
the bones for soup stock.

Slice negi (or leeks) and all 
but one of the carrots into 
bite-sized pieces.

Fill a large stew pot with water 
and place over medium-low heat.

Add the bones with the negi and 
sliced carrots and simmer, uncovered, 
about 3 hours to make soup stock.

Slice the daikon and potato and parboil 
in a separate pot, reserve it.

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.

Add all sliced ingredients and soy sauce 
to the stock pot and simmer until the 
fresh vegetables are cooked.

Then add the parboiled vegetables.

Season to taste with mirin or its 
equivalent and salt.

Simmer a few minutes more; serve hot.

After finishing the chanko, reheat 
the soup with udon noodles and serve 
in deep soup bowls.
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