Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Rice hasn't alway been a cheaply available staple in Japan. Centuries ago, rice was an expensive commodity, so much so that the Japanese used to bulk out their precious rice using other cereals or grains such as barley and millet, cooking everything together in one pot.
That was how the idea of Takikomi rice (literally, "boiled together meal" , in English) took form.
Nowadays, of course, people still add things to their rice but for health and flavour reasons not because of shortage. Rice is very good at absorbing flavours as it cooks, so along with other ingredients. Takikomi rice is often cooked in a broth rather than just water.
For this recipe, I created a broth using some instant dashi stock, mirin and soy sauce. I washed and drained the rice 4 or 5 times for this recipe - I don't usually wash rice so thoroughly, but because the flavours in this dish are quite muted, I like to get the rice prepared to absorb as much taste from the broth as it possibly can. I added carrot and bamboo shoots as vegetables but you could use most other vegetables. Iin Japan, tradition has it that takikomi rice uses vegetables that are in season. That's why I used bamboo shoots which are a late spring treat in Japan - on the other hand, takikomi rice also a good way to use up odds and ends that are in the fridge!
I rinsed the bamboo thoroughly, otherwise I find the taste can overpower the other flavours.
The last ingredient was a sheet of aburaage (fried slices of tofu - you can find this in Asian and Japanese food stores). Whatever you choose to include in your takikomi rice, you'll end up with a subtly flavoured bowl of steam rice with some nutricious, fibrous vegetables to boot - I often sprinkle a little nori over my bowl and accompany it with a bowl of miso soup, but that's entirely up to you! I
f you want to take a tilt at this dish, you can find the Youtube recipe by clicking Takikomi rice or scroll to the bottom of the page. The written recipe for Takikomi rice is below.
If you decide to pair this dish with miso soup, why not try my recipe for a classic Miso soup?
(makes 2 generous main servings)
3 cups Japanese rice (1 cup = 160ml)
1 sheet aburaage
60g carrot, peeled
1 tin (225g-net weight) bamboo shoots, rinsed 4-5 times
500ml (approx.) water
3 tsp japanese instant dashi granules
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp japanese cooking sake
some shredded nori for topping
rinse the rice under running water 4-5 times and drain in a sieve
quarter the abura-age and slice thinly
slice the carrot finely and cut into small matchsticks
add the salt, dashi granules, soy sauce & cooking sake to the water in a jug and mix well
put the rice into your rice cooker, add the dashi broth, mix, then top up with extra water if necessary
put the bamboo, carrot & abura-age on top of the rice, but don’t mix yet
cook according to your rice cooker programme
when cooked, mix well
top with some shredded nori just before serving (optional)
happy steaming! kurumi XXXX.