Chicken Loaf “Wind in the Pines” (Toriniku Matsukaze-yaki (鶏肉松風焼き)


I am always drawn to poetic dish names, so rare in European cuisines. Doesn’t Wind in the Pines (Toriniku Matsukaze-yaki, 鶏肉松風焼き) sound incomparably better than Chicken Loaf? One might wonder how a baked chicken loaf can bear such a beautiful name? According to Shizuo Tsuji, the author of the magnificent “The Japanese Cooking. A Simple Art”, where I found this recipe, the grains sprinkled over the top evoke the sand on a pine-bordered beach, while the boiling kettle in tea ceremony is like wind blowing through the seaside pines. To be precise, toriniku means chicken, matsukaze “wind in the pines” and yaki describes the grilling/pan-frying cooking method (even though this is supposed to be baked in a hot water bath, not grilled, but I suppose this is due to the fact that baking is not really popular in Japan…).

Apart from the magical name, the final original step of this recipe was what has captured my attention. The beautiful yellow colour is obtained by brushing raw egg yolk over the freshly baked loaf; the yolk cooks instantly and forms a sunny layer over the otherwise pale, unappetising dish. Even though my first Chicken Loaf looked and tasted wonderful, I have allowed myself several modifications, hoping they do not destroy the original idea. My way to prepare this dish gives a very similar result: a filling and warming, but surprisingly light meal. It has certainly brought a ray of sunshine to the cloudy, snowy weather we have been having.

My first Chicken Loaf seemed too dry, which is often the case with cooked minced lean meat. Therefore, I have added some silken tofu, the trick which I have been practising with dumplings for quite a long time. Since I always try to simplify the cooking steps, I have switched from hot water bath in the oven to steaming (but both methods are described below). Not only is it easier this way, but much quicker. Moreover, if you serve rice too, both can cook in the rice cooker at the same time. Last but not least, I have decided to serve this loaf in individual baking dishes rather than preparing a traditional big flat loaf. If you want to know the original recipe, I advise consulting Shizuo Tsuji’s book.

This dish would be equally good served with rice and Japanese pickles and, in a more European way, with a green salad and bread. I would advise also serving it with a sauce of your choice.

TIP: If you wonder what to do with the two leftover egg whites, you need exactly this amount to prepare the Easy Chewy Coconut Cookies:


Special equipment: individual baking dishes (not obligatory)

Preparation: 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 small chicken breasts, minced (you can mix them in a food processor) or 2 medium chicken breasts, if you skip tofu

4 heaped tablespoons drained silken tofu 

2 tablespoons sake

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon sugar (or syrup)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more if you use low-sodium soy sauce)

1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice (squeezed from freshly grated ginger, about 2,5 cm/1 inch)

white poppy seeds or toasted white sesame seeds

If you decide to bake the dishes in the hot water bath, preheat the oven to 230°C.

If you decide to steam them, wash the rice and prepare it to cook in the rice cooker.

Put half of the ground chicken in a pot with saké. Cook over high heat, stirring until the meat changes the colour.

Drain it.

In a big bowl combine the raw meat, 1 egg and 1 yolk, salt, sugar, soy sauce, tofu and mix well with a spoon or your hand.

At the end add the cooked meat and the ginger, mix again.

Spread the meat mixture in the individual dishes and bake them in bain-marie (hot water bath) for 30 minutes or put them on the steaming tray in your rice cooker and leave there until the rice is cooked.

Remove the dishes from the oven and brush quickly with the remaining egg yolk and sprinkle with the seeds (the yolk will cook on the hot surface and give a beautiful colour).

If you have steamed the dishes, the yolk might not set (your loaf might not be as hot), so either brush it with yolk and put back to the steamer for a minute (and sprinkle with sesame afterwards) or brush it with yolk, sprinkle with seeds and put under the broiler for one minute.

Serve with a sauce of your choice, rice, bread, salad, pickles…

44 Replies to “Chicken Loaf “Wind in the Pines” (Toriniku Matsukaze-yaki (鶏肉松風焼き)”

  1. What an interesting recipe! I really like that the top is golden in color and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I have all the ingredients on hand except the silken tofu… I’ll get that this afternoon. Thank you Sissi!

  2. This does look very interesting Sissi and the name is truly beautiful and magical; it really makes me aware of how we are so unimaginative in North America in naming our dishes. I like that you served it in individual ramekins, I have some beautiful Le Creuset pots that would work perfectly. I shall have to give this a try. I can always count on you for unusual recipes and ideas, thank you.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. European dishes have also most of the time practical, boring names… I hope you will like this dish. It’s very filling and so surprisingly light!

    1. Thank you so much, Karen. A romantic name changes instantly the way we perceive a dish, doesn’t it?

  3. Sissi, this recipe not only looks and sounds delicious, its depiction is downright poetic. I’ll take Wind in the Pines any day over Loaf and how about ‘the grains sprinkled on top to depict the sand pine-bordered beach, while the boiling kettle … is like wind blowing through the seaside pines.’ I don’t need a recipe here – you’ve already transported me to a different place of harmony and peace. Mission accomplished. Seriously, I love when I come across something different and refreshing in this way… you always treat us to the unexpected and allow us to explore new and interesting ways of seeing things Sissi. Thank you for that.

    1. Thank you so much for the compliments and kind words, Kelly. I’m glad you like this discovery I wanted to share with you and other visitors (I have certainly enjoyed it!).

  4. Yes, Wind in the Pines is definitely nicer than chicken loaf. It seems that egg yolks are used effectively for decoration and colour in Asian cooking, as I just brushed my almond cookies with egg yolks this weekend and it made such a nice difference.

    Sissi, it felt like you were in the kitchen with me this weekend as I made your wonton chips, Chinese Sticky Ribs and adopted your suggestion of using a ravioli gadget/press for making by dumplings. I must say that the ribs were the best I’ve ever had — I will be making them again for sure. My guests loved them too! Thank you for all of the inspiration, as I was quick to turn to your blog when planning for my Chinese New Years feast.

    1. Thank you so much, Barb, for telling me about your adventures with wonton chips and soy sauce ribs! I cannot believe you have prepared both recipes! I am really proud and thrilled to learn you have enjoyed them. Thank you once more for the feedback. Such messages always make me happy 🙂

  5. What an interesting dish! I have never seen anything like it before, and am glad you shared it with everyone! The golden color of the yolk really made the dish pop, for some reason I don’t think the yellow of the yolk here in the state is as vibrant…

    1. Thank you very much, Jeno. Here it depends on what the chickens are fed and also the season. This one wasn’t particularly bright though; some yolks are almost orange if the hens are given carrots to eat!

  6. The name of this dish is very poetic and takes a simple chicken loaf to another level of elegance. I did a quick read of the recipe and noted the 2 different methods of cooking the chicken meat (poaching half and then adding it to the unbaked half and the rest of the ingredients) and was really curious about the basis for the process. Is it something done in other Japanese dishes? Cooking the raw yolk with the residual heat from the dish is similar to other dishes where a raw egg is added to a soup etc and certainly gives the finished dish a beautiful golden colour. All very different from western cooking.

    1. Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. I was wondering myself why a part of the chicken is cooked with sake (but I have always done it); I think it’s beacuse if everything was cooked in sake, the loaf would have a dry consistency; if the sake was just mixed with raw minced chicken, it might become too watery I think. It’s the first time I saw such a method though.
      I like the yolk brushing stage a lot because it’s a bit magical to observe its thin layer cook…

  7. Will try this soon, definitely with the silky tofu! And since I steam much of my food, the method also suits! Individual ramekins definitely 🙂 !

    1. Individual dishes always look better, don’t they? The first time I prepared it I baked a thin loaf according to the original recipe. It didn’t look so well when I cut it into pieces afterwards…

  8. Such a unique recipe… I have never seen anything like this before..
    I can say it can be called like a meatloaf buut without the heaviness of flour… Or may be not This is far better!

  9. Oh my! This is truly beautiful. Both the name and the look. 🙂 I love dreamy name like this. Make my mind wonder off into some beautiful scenery…better with this dish on hand too. 😛 Very interesting way to finish off a dish by brushing egg yolks onto just baked loaf! Genius creation.

  10. I knew the day would come, and today is it! I don’t know this Japanese dish!!! LOL. Told you you are more knowledgeable than you think about Japanese or any cuisine. I even Google to see the images of others who make this dish… but they all look knew to me! My gosh, my mom never made this and I’ve never seen this at a restaurant. Maybe ryokan or ryotei might serve this kind of dish…or totally homey dish. Chicken and tofu are often combined together because they go well together. I’ll have to open my eyes more when I go back. I might find it easily and I just never paid attention before… but really doubt it. Thanks for educating me! Looks good, Sissi!

    1. Thank you, Nami, for the compliments. It’s so funny! It was not on purpose; I swear! When you are a stranger and cook from a Japanese cookery book, you have no idea which dishes are more or less famous and which are hardly known… Ok, there are such dishes as korokke which are well known (haha! what an accidental mention of korokke here 😉 ), but I sometimes cook something which seems very unusual and then I see it’s on all the Japanese blogs I know! I’m really glad that for once I didn’t bore you with copies of your dishes 😉 I love this book even more now!

  11. What a very interesting dish. At first I thought it was more like a casserole with lots of meat and veggies, but oh how wrong was I. It’s just a simple dish of chicken, tofu and egg. This is so different that anything I’ve ever had. So you only cook half of the chicken in the sake. Why not all of it? Is it so the egg doesn’t cook when you toss it? Just wondering. This dish definitely has me curious. I guess I’m going to have to pin that beautiful picture so I can remember to make!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I really go through strange cooking stages… I have never had or made the classical meatloaf and here I am posting the strange Japanese chicken version 😉 A_Boleyn has already asked me about the partial cooking stage. I have no idea, but I think it’s because he wanted the sake to aromatise the meat, but if it was added to raw meat, it might become watery; on the other hand, if all the meat was pre-cooked it would be even dried at the end… (Just my idea though! I did as the master instructed).

  12. Such a pretty name for this dish Sissi…and I love the idea of adding tofu to the minced chicken…I will keep in mind when needed.
    Hope you are having a fun week!

    1. Thank you very much, Juliana. I always add tofu when I prepare anything with minced lean meat: it makes the whole mixture less dry (and if you don’t add too much of tofu, no one will notice 😉 ).

  13. Ah, would you recommend the cookbook? I drink a lot of Japanese tea, and as a result, I’m really interested in learning about Japanese cuisine.
    The loaf’s name is indeed beautiful, and the loaf sounds pretty tasty. The cookies look delicious too.

    1. Thanks a lot, Joyti. For the beginners I would rather recommend Harumi Kurihara’s books. They have a more simple and homely approach and lots of photos. Here there are hardly any photos (they are together in one place, the old way) and if you have never cooked Japanese, you might be lost or bored. Or feel overwhelmed. Afterwards, once you have cooked some Japanese dishes, I would strongly recommend Tsuji’s book. It’s an incredible source of recipes and of knowledge about Japanese cuisine and also about products. I cannot even imagine how much effort and time was put into this book… It’s rare to find such accurate, “polished” cookery books.
      You can also learn a lot from Nami’s Just One Cookbook blog! She is an excellent teacher.

  14. So true, you won’t find many poetic names in European cuisines, though I think that in some regions certain dish names do standout. This one is surely lovely 🙂

  15. What a beautiful name – it reminds me of something… maybe a book I read once or something, I can’t remember. I love the brushing of the egg on top too. A truly great way to, as you say, make a sunny layer :D. You’re right – we don’t really have such whimsical names in European cookery… I’m sure some exist, but all I can think of off the top of my head right now is “toad in the hole” and “spotted dick”, sigh 😀

    1. Excellent! Toad in the Hole or Spotted Dick are at least as poetic as Wind in the Pines 😉 Thanks a lot, Charles. You are right. All I can think of is Tiramisù…

    1. Thanks a lot, Elisabeth. The cookies are ridiculously easy, so if one day you have two leftover egg whites and need something quick and sweet, do try them!

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