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Don’t go! Seriously, if you’re not into hot and spicy food hang in there, because this isn’t. Terms like ‘atomic’ and ‘Hiroshima’ have become (rather distastefully in my opinion) pretty clichéd with food, conjuring up images of having your head blown off with fiery chilli and spices and stocking up the freezer with toilet roll, but the truth of why this dish is called Hiroshima chicken is much more exciting than that.

Actually I lied about that – I called it Hiroshima chicken because that’s where we had it for lunch. That’s exciting in its own way, because eating Italian in one of the better known cities of the world is a cool thing. And while it sounds pretty weird eating Italian in Japan on holidays, it turns out that Italian is a bit of a hot culinary trend in Japan and there is no shortage of Italian restaurants or Italian dishes on café menus in Japan.

hirochicken5 Can’t beat the colour of a freshly made pesto.

In fairness I didn’t seek out Italian food but rather we would have been hunting for somewhere for lunch where it was possible to get a decent cup of coffee to go with it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but as a general rule the coffee in Japan is loosely based on dishwater. In my quest for a half decent coffee the best I found was in a coffee shop in Nagoya, coincidentally my favourite city of the ones we visited. Nagoya has a slightly different, more cosmopolitan feel about it than other cities in Japan, possible because there is large industry there such as the Toyota factory for one. And from memory the coffee at Tully’s, where we ate this dish in Hiroshima was pretty good too.

hirochicken4 One of my best photos yet – I knew you’d like it. If you can be bothered give the spuds a bit of a shake now and then while they’re cooking.

I’m in the habit of keeping a diary when we travel, recording the events of the day, and I typically make a note of the places we have eaten and what we had, sketching out the bones of a recipe for the particularly good ones if I think it might be possible to reproduce, or even worthwhile doing so. A veritable Rick Stein if you will, tripping around with my little notebook and recording recipes, except the BBC is not paying my bills.

hirochicken3 Take off the lid and voila!.

Hiroshima chicken is one such recipe and very simple to make now that I’ve run my estimate of ingredients and method through my test kitchen a few times. Ms Onion enjoys it but has perhaps gotten a little sick of it in the past few weeks as I tried to perfect the recipe. I had it all ready to go last week and all was going to plan with the photos and cooking when my son and daughter-in-law popped in and stayed for dinner unexpectedly. Things went awry at that point and despite taking photos I realised belatedly that I had cooked the potatoes but forgotten to put them in, and also left out the broccoli, so probably not worthy of my fine readership.

hirochicken2 Combine the potato, chicken, capsicum and broccoli together in a bowl and season to taste.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Hiroshima Basil Chicken and Pasta

Cooking: About 25 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 350g pasta (penné or similar)
  • 2 cups broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 2 chicken breasts, halved and cut thinly into pieces
  • 12 capsicum, cut into thin strips
Basil pesto
  • 45g (14 cup) walnuts or pinenuts
  • 1 12 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 60g (34 cup) grated parmesan
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the pesto, place the walnuts, basil, garlic and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin steady stream until well combined.
  • Steam or microwave the broccoli until just tender.
  • Heat the oil in a frypan over high heat, add the potato cubes and fry for 1-2 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. Check if done (give them a little longer if necessary), then when they are nearly ready remove the lid, turn the heat up and stir-fry gently to remove any excess moisture. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the pan and fry gently. When nearly done add the capsicum strips and fry until the capsicum is just softened and the chicken is done.
  • Add the chicken, capsicum and broccoli to the bowl with the potatoes.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions and add to the chicken mixture. Add the pesto and stir gently to combine.
  • Garnish with basil leaves and serve.