Takikomi-gohan is one of those Japanese dishes that seems to be everywhere–you can get it pre-prepared in convenience stores and grocery stores, and it’s a popular side dish in traditional restaurants. Roughly translated as “stuff cooked with rice,” it makes use of what’s seasonally available and is remarkably easy to make. Inspired by an online recipe and Roger Ebert’s endless praise of rice cooker possibilities, I gave it a try this weekend.
The nice thing about takikomi-gohan is that after a few minutes of chopping and stirring you just turn on the rice cooker and walk away. You will need a rice cooker for this recipe, though I imagine that you could pull it off in a saucepan. From A Box of Kitchen, here’s a recipe for takikomi-gohan with boiled octopus and shiitake mushrooms.
You will need:
A package of boiled octopus (available in most Asian supermarkets)
A small piece of fresh ginger
Half a package of dried shiitake mushrooms
One clove garlic
rice (1/2 cup uncooked rice per person, in general)
2-3 tbsp soy sauce (depending on how salty you like it)
1-2 tbsp mirin (depending on how sweet you like it)
Dash of pepper
Mince the ginger and garlic into small pieces (you should end up with about a tablespoon of chopped ginger and half a tablespoon of garlic, adjust as you see fit). Chop the octopus into bite-sized pieces.
Rinse your rice and fill it up with water to the appropriate marker. (Note: don’t use the largest amount of rice possible or there won’t be room for everything in the pot. If you have a three-cup rice cooker, for example, use 2 cups maximum.) Add in all other ingredients and stir gently. Close the lid and turn on the cooker.
When the rice is done, give it a good stir to spread out the flavors. Serve in bowls.
As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless–next time I might try it with bamboo shoots or carrots.