• Sam Burgess

Japanese-Style Chicken & Dumplings

Two dishes worlds apart find their way together for a rich and warming experience. Japanese Shio Chicken Ramen and American Chicken & Dumplings seem different, but with some adaptation and thoughtful additions, they can come together for a memorable bowl that will have you back for more!

Japanese Shio Ramen consists of an amber-tinted soup base made from salt, chicken, fish, vegetables, and seaweed. The soup base is not boiled for long, giving it a clear appearance and a clean taste with each ingredient getting a chance to shine. It is a more delicate style of ramen with a focus on the broth, light vegetable accompaniments, and wheat-based ramen noodles.

American Chicken & Dumplings is a popular comfort food made from chicken simmered in water before simple biscuit dumplings are dropped in and cooked in the broth. The dish originated in the Southern and Midwestern United States and became very popular during harsh economic times in the 19th and 20th centuries. More modern takes have it include more vegetables and aromatic herbs.

This recipe starts to come together with one ingredient-- chicken. Usually, these dishes could go either way between breast or thigh meat, but the juicy dark meat of chicken thighs is the best for this stew. Skin-on, bone-in thighs are optimal because they add flavor while the meat cooks. Patting the thighs dry before seasoning will ensure that you render the skin properly, rather than steam, and develop a beautiful fond on the bottom of the pan.

Once the chicken is seared, we decided to remove the cooked crispy skin and chop using our favorite Chef’s Knife into long pieces. This will be reserve for a rich topping-- optional but TOTALLY worth it!

Into the rendered chicken fat we add vegetables which bring depth and complexity, plus a nutritional boost. Yellow onion, carrots, celery are a classic combo, with the addition of baby shiitake mushrooms for a savory kick. Shiitake mushrooms are a mainstay in various types of ramen because of their rich and earthy flavor.

To lock in the flavor further, we added the Asian “Holy Trinity” of flavor which is comprised of sliced scallion whites, minced garlic, and minced ginger. Together they empower a rich aroma and flavor as a foundation for most stir-fry dishes but work wonders as part of our soup base.

Then we deglaze the whole pot with some sake, a fermented beverage made from rice, water, koji, and yeast. Sake has a balanced savory flavor, and like cooking with wine, helps round out other ingredients. The best sake for cooking is one that isn’t too expensive, but one that you’d want to drink!

Once the alcohol has evaporated, the chicken thighs jump back into the pot along with chicken broth, fresh thyme, and soy sauce. It is important to simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked and tender, but not quite falling off the bone.

While the base is simmering, it is prime time for putting together the dumpling dough. A combination of tangy buttermilk, nutty sesame oil, and fresh sliced scallion greens help flavor the dumplings. The baking soda helps the dumplings puff up into pillows when cooked and interestingly is an ingredient in traditional ramen noodles. Combine the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients in separate bowls, then a few folds are all it takes to come together.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the soup pot and let cool slightly on a cutting board. Take this time to skim off any excess fat from the top of the soup and discard. Remove the bones and any remaining skin from the chicken, and chop into 1” pieces. Add back to the soup and bring to a simmer.

Now it’s time to bring it all together! With a lightly greased tablespoon measure, start scooping the dumpling dough into the simmering broth, making sure they aren’t stacked on top of each other or sticking to the sides. Once all the dumplings are in, put the lid back on the pot and cook until they are doubled in size. Use this time to crisp the reserved chicken skin in a small sauté pan.

You’ll know it’s ready when the aromas of chicken, ginger, garlic, and thyme are dominating your kitchen! In one pot you have fluffy scallion dumplings alongside a rich and aromatic stew with tender bites of chicken. Add the crunch of the chicken skin and more scallions for garnish. It is something that has to be experienced-- well worth the effort. Happy cooking!

Japanese-Style Chicken & Dumplings

This Japanese-inspired stew is warming, rich, and packed with flavor alongside irresistible and fluffy scallion dumplings. Based on a tried-and-true American classic while taking heavy inspiration from Shio-style ramen. The end result is something you have to taste to believe!

Recipe by Sam Burgess

Forge To Table Knives

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients :

  • 4 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on, trimmed (~8 thighs)

  • 1-½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped fine (~1 cup)

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch coins (~1 cup)

  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine (~½ cup)

  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced (~1 cup)

  • 1 bunch scallions, separated, whites sliced thin and greens sliced on a bias, divided

  • ¼ cup garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced

  • 1 cup sake

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¾ cup buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  • 1 large egg white


  1. (PREPARE VEGETABLES) Prepare all vegetables using a favorite Forge To Table knife ahead of time. Separate the scallion whites from the greens, and divide the sliced greens into two halves.

  2. (BROWN CHICKEN THIGHS) Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and evenly season with 1-½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a dutch oven or large soup pot. Once shimmering, add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until skin is well browned and crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Depending on pot size, it may be best to brown in two batches. Transfer seared chicken to a plate. Remove skin from the chicken, and slice into long pieces, and reserve for later (optional).

  3. (COOK AROMATICS) Add onions, carrots, celery to a now-empty pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Add ALL scallion whites, garlic, and ginger, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.

  4. (BRING TO A SIMMER) Stir in sake, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth, soy sauce, and thyme, and return chicken thighs to the pot. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the meat is tender, about 45-55 minutes.

  5. (PREPARE DUMPLINGS) In the meantime, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and HALF of the reserved sliced scallion greens in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl or measuring cup, combine buttermilk, melted butter, toasted sesame oil, and egg white. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Set aside.

  6. (CHOP CHICKEN) Remove stew from heat. Use tongs to place chicken thighs onto a cutting board and let cool slightly. Skim excess fat from the top of the broth and discard. Using hands or forks, remove & discard bones and skin (if left on), and chop chicken thighs into 1” pieces. Return meat to pot.

  7. (COOK DUMPLINGS) Bring the stew to a simmer, and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Using a greased tablespoon, scoop prepared dumpling batter into the stew, making sure they aren’t on top of each other (there should be about 24 dumplings). Cover pot and simmer gently until the dumplings have doubled in size, 13 to 16 minutes.

  8. (OPTIONAL- CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN) In a small sauté pan over medium heat, cook sliced chicken skin until crispy again, about 5-7 minutes. Reserve in a small bowl for garnishing.

  9. (GARNISH & SERVE) Portion the finished stew into bowls and garnish with remaining HALF of sliced scallion greens and crispy chicken skins. Enjoy!

Chef’s Notes:

  • Try substituting shiitakes for other mushrooms like Maitake or Lions Mane.

  • Top with chili oil or fermented hot sauce if you crave something spicier.

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