I absolutely love this way of cooking rice, where you simply put all the ingredients into the one pot together, so the rice absorbs all the flavours and the chicken comes out incredibly tender. It is my ideal comfort food, both to prepare and to eat, as it so easy to do both!
Literally meaning ‘cooked with rice’, you can actually put anything you like in this – it is usually a dish where you might find many autumnal (fall) vegetables like mushrooms and chestnuts, as it’s a favourite to make with shinmai (new season rice), which is harvested in the autumn. Although I find it hard to go past this classic shiitake and chicken combination, you could use aburaage or fried beancurd, bamboo shoots, clams or gobo (burdock root – although it can be hard to find outside of Japan). For a bit of richness, add a knob of butter before mixing it all together. To make this vegetarian/vegan, simply omit the chicken and perhaps add a few more different mushrooms or another favourite vegetable. Any leftovers are great turned into Onigiri.
Takikomigohan Shiitake and Chicken Rice
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 250 ml 1 cup water
- 1 5 cm (2 in) square piece of kombu
- 2 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh root ginger
- 230 g (generous 1 cup) Japanese short-grain rice
- ½ carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 spring onion, scallion, green parts finely chopped
- Soak the mushrooms for at least 1 hour in the water with the kombu. This will make a delicious shiitake dashi that the rice is going to be cooked in. Remove and discard the stem of the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms and finely slice the rest. Set aside. Marinate the chicken in the soy sauce, mirin, sake and ginger for the same time.
- Wash and drain the rice two or three times. Drain it very well the last time, then place the rice in a medium heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
- The key to this dish is in the layering. Add the carrot (or any root vegetables you might be adding) first on top of the rice, followed by the chicken pieces, all their marinade, and the mushrooms. Add the shiitake dashi (remove the kombu). Cover with the lid, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to very low and cook for 15–17 minutes, or until the liquid has all been absorbed (never touching the rice or ingredients). Let it rest, lid on, for a further 15 minutes to finish steaming.
- To serve, toss everything together in the pot and sprinkle over the chopped spring onion.
GOHAN: Everyday Japanese Cooking by Emiko Davies (Smith Street Books, £26) Photography: Yuki Sugiura