April 16, 2011

Takikomi Gohan

Another rice post - but rather different from risotto!

I've always enjoyed the small bowls of mixed rice, or takikomi gohan that one can get in Japanese restaurants - they provide a wonderful, warm, savory hit of satisfaction. The kind I tend to see around Vancouver are usually made with chicken, with mushroom, or with both, and I went for the combination, since it struck me as a fine idea for a casual supper at home.

I went looking online for suggestions regarding recipes, and there certainly is a number to choose from, each with a different approach to the necessary components. After a lot of searching, I finally came back to the incredibly useful Just Hungry food blog, the sister site of Just Bento. Her recipes are for straight-up mushroom (one traditional, one vegan), but she does mention the addition of diced chicken instead of bean curd, so that's the option I took. I thought I was getting the chicken pieces small enough, but next time I will dice them more finely.

The recipe itself is simplicity, if you are using a rice cooker. Chop your mushrooms (and chicken) and allow to marinate for an hour or so in a small amount of a mixture of roughly equal proportions of soy sauce, mirin, and sake. Add this mixture on top of the rice and water mixture in your rice cooker, then turn it on as usual for plain rice. Gently mix with a paddle when it is cooked, to integrate everything. Garnish as you please.

It is not a particularly elegant dish, as you can see below. It is simple, comforting, and easy fare, and one I intend to repeat again soon. The leftovers, as you can see above, made absolutely charming onigiri for a bento lunch the next day (and froze fairly nicely, too).

You can use whatever mushrooms you like. We used a combination of shiitake, king oyster, and enoki. Next time, I plan to include shimeji (beech mushroom), since I found that HMart carries the more widely cultivated bunashimeji. But really, any mushroom that you enjoy eating will work just fine.

I'm surprised it took me so long to try making this for myself, because it is very rewarding for the small amount of prep involved. Even if you've never had the restaurant version, you might want to give this a try: it is a solid entry in the grand category of soothing rice-with-bits dishes.

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