Takikomi Gohan: Autumn “Rice Cooker” Meal

takikomi

Takikomi gohan (炊き込みご飯) is a Japanese mixed rice dish, made by cooking rice with any number of different fillings. It’s usually made using seasonal veggies, but can be made with anything that you have on hand. This dish is very popular in fall, the multitude of vegetables being harvested means many varieties can be made, and the meal itself is warm and filling, just what’s needed when the whether starts to get chilly.

Takikomi gohan is a very labor free dish, comparable to cooking with a slow cooker, with the most time-consuming step being getting together the ingredients. Unlike using a slow cooker, however, takikomi gohan doesn’t need all day to cook; just prepare the ingredients, put everything in a rice cooker and cook it for as long as you would cook rice.

There are so many different variations of takikomi gohan that it’s almost impossible to talk about them all. In addition to the common takikomi gohan mixtures, most people have their own favorite way to prepare takikomi gohan. Some people even take their takikomi gohan and shape them into onigiri, Japanese rice balls, for easy storing and eating!

lighter takikomi

To make a general bowl of takikomi gohan you need rice, soy sauce, mirin (rice wine vinegar), and dashi stock. You also need vegetables to cook in with your rice and any kind of cooked meat you wish to add in. Common vegetables cooked into takikomi gohan include gobou (ごぼう), or burdock root, shiitaki mushrooms, konnyaku, and bamboo shoots. You’re not limited to these vegetable choices, of course; add in whatever veggies you feel like eating.

Start your takikomi gohan the same way you would start plain rice; rinse and “polish” two cups of rice until the water runs clear, then go ahead and put the rinsed rice in the cooker to free room to prepare your ingredients. If you plan on using gobou, cut it into thin slices and soak the slices in water, along with the shiitaki mushrooms or any other dried vegetables for about five minutes. You can also use this time to cute the other vegetables into more manageable sizes. Mix together about a tablespoon of soy sauce, a tablespoon of mirin, 1/3 tablespoon of salt and 1/3 tablespoon of the dashi stock; you can also add a tablespoon of cooking sake to add more depth to the flavor. Some people boil their vegetables in this mixture before adding everything to the rice cooker, but the mixture and vegetables can also go straight into the cooker, too.

To get started cooking, add the vegetables and whatever cooked meat you may be using to the rice cooker. Add enough water to your liquid mixture to meet the requirements for two cups of rice (the general rule of thumb for white rice is one cup water to one cup rice, but many rice cookers will have measurement lines on the inside of the pot.) If your cooker has settings for different types of rice, cook your takikomi mixture on the white or mixed setting. All that’s left is waiting for the rice to cook, and then stirring everything together once your takikomi gohan is finished. Remember, a big part of making takikomi gohan is experimenting to find something that you love!

If you want to make takikomi gohan on your own, you can buy your rice as well as many different kinds of vegetables at Asahi Imports! We also sell everything needed to make your dashi base. You can even buy takikomi mixes for a quick, easy meal; just add into your rice cooker and cook! Want to make takikomi gohan but don’t have a rice cooker? We have many great, long lasting, and easy to use rice cookers for sell; our staff can help you decide the perfect rice cooker for you! Are you going to make a delicious, traditional takikomi gohan or will you experiment until you find something perfectly suited to your tastes? It’s hard to go wrong with takikomi gohan!

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