Hittsumi is a dish found in the Hachinohe Area and the neighboring northern Iwate area. It is a great example of the area’s Konamon culinary culture, in which flour rather than rice is used as the staple food.
Hittsumi is a type of hand-pulled dumpling. It is a variant of a dish called suiton that is found in other places in Japan as well. To make the dish, wheat flour is kneaded, pulled thin, and torn off in strips or circles. The dumplings are then simmered and served in a vegetable-based soy sauce soup. Seasonal ingredients such as wild mushrooms are often added into the soup with the dumplings. This makes for a hearty, rich, and rustic dish that reflects the changing seasons and its produce.
Making your own hittsumi is a fun and easy cooking adventure you can try at home. The soup is usually made with chicken, but it can be easily adjusted to feature fish, shellfish (such as this local river crab variant), or even just vegetables. The key to a great hittsumi is to make good dumplings and pair them with whatever ingredients that are fresh and in season at the time.
Notes on adjustments:
- As noted above, chicken can be substituted for fish, any other meat, or even entirely omitted.
- Gobo or burdock root is a vegetable often used in Japanese cooking, and it is particularly popular in the Hachinohe Area. It can be omitted or substituted for another root vegetable, e.g. parsnip, potato, or celery.
- Naganegi or Japanese long onion can be substituted by using leek or spring onion.
- In Season Vegetables: Using seasonal vegetables is optional, but it makes hittsumi a much more versatile and dynamic dish. Some great seasonal vegetables include: asparagus, snap beans, fennel, wild mushrooms, okra, etc. Adjust when you add the vegetable into the soup based on its cooking time.
Recipe for Hittsumi
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 Cup wheat flour (bread flour preferred, but all-purpose is OK)
- 1/3 Cup water
- 4-5 Cups chicken stock
- 150-200g chicken cut into bite-size chunks (preferably thigh meat, but any will do)
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 gobo, sliced (burdock root)
- 3 dried shiitake mushrooms (fresh shiitake can be used or any other mushroom)
- 1 naganegi sliced (Japanese long onion, leek can be used or spring onion)
- Seasonal vegetables (optional)
- Cooking sake (optional)
- Soy sauce (optional)
Make the dumplings:
- Place flour into a bowl and pour in water, mix well. You may need more or less water based on the flour you use and the humidity of the kitchen, but try to use the least amount possible.
- Knead the dough well until elastic and smooth, this should take around 10 minutes.
- Rest the dough in a bowl in a warm place with a damp cloth over it for at least two to three hours.
Make the soup:
- Reconstitute the dried shiitake mushrooms by placing them in a bowl and covering with boiling water, let sit for about 20-30 mins. Remove mushrooms from water and slice. Prepare the vegetables.
- Bring around 4-5 cups of chicken stock to a simmer in a pot.
- Add in chicken, carrot, burdock root, shiitake, seasonal vegetables (if using) into the broth and let simmer.
- Adjust the seasoning of the broth with cooking sake and soy sauce (about 1 tbsp or more of each depending on the saltiness of your chicken stock).
- Take the rested dough and begin to add the dumplings by pinching a piece of the dough between four fingers and the palm of your hand and stretching it as thinly as possible.
- Once the piece of dough is nice and thin, tear it off from the main lump and add to the pot.
- Continue to do this until all of the dough is gone.
- Add the sliced long onion or leek to the pot.
- Once all of the dumplings have floated to the top, the soup is done.
- Remove from heat, serve, and enjoy.