Japanese Treasure Rice

Takikomi Gohan Japanese treasure rice
If you have a rice cooker, this is the easiest made-from-scratch meal ever. All you have to do is measure the dry rice into the cooker, then toss in the raw veggies and cooking broth (plus the raw marinated chicken pieces, if you want to make a meal of it). Turn it on, and the rice cooker does the rest! If you don’t have a rice cooker, read on for cooking instructions that will deliver a dish that’s just as delicious, and nearly as easy.

This dish elevates plain old white rice to star level, with “treasures” of vegetables and a deep down savory flavor that will have everyone asking for seconds. Add marinated chicken pieces to the pot, and you’ve got the easiest one-dish meal ever!

Serves: 4

1 ½ c. (350ml) dashi (Japanese soup broth)*

1 ½ T. (22ml) soy sauce

1 ½ T. (22ml) mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine for cooking)

1 ½ T. (22ml) sake

1 ½ c. (300g) medium grain rice (not long grain or basmati)


4-6 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced thin

2 carrots, peeled

1 sheet agedashi tofu (thin sheet of deep-fried tofu)

1 burdock root, scrubbed

½ yellow onion (I like to brown mine in a little cooking oil before adding it, but you don’t have to)

*Dashi is Japanese soup broth, and you can make it with ½ t. instant Hon Dashi granules for every cup of boiling water.

Here are the ingredients I usually put in mine: Burdock root (gobo), agedashi tofu (fried tofu), carrots, mushrooms, onions. You can, of course, make it with more veggies or fewer if you like!
To cut carrots and burdock, whittle it with a sharp knife, as if you were sharpening a pencil. (If you make shallow cuts, the end won’t break off)
Your takikomi gohan will taste more authentic if you put some deep-fried tofu strips like these in it, but agedashi tofu one of those things you can’t really make yourself, you just have to buy a packet (either online or at an Asian grocery store). You can freeze what you don’t use, and it defrosts just grand. And if you can’t get it, don’t worry—it’ll still be delish!

If you don’t have a rice cooker, stir together the sauce ingredients in a large pan, add the chopped veggies and tofu (and chicken pieces, if desired), and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until liquid is nearly gone. Let cool.

Meanwhile, cook the rice in another pot, according to the instructions on the bag.

Put rice in a large bowl. Add spoonfuls of the cooked vegetable mixture, with a little of the liquid (not all) and mix with a wooden spoon or rice paddle, adding liquid as needed. 

Japanese-style Marinated Chicken

12 oz. (340g) chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup (60ml) mirin

1/4 cup (60ml) sake

2 T. (30ml) soy sauce

1 t. (10g) sugar

Mix marinade ingredients together in a measuring cup and microwave it for a minute, so the sugar will dissolve. Pour it into a big baggie with the chicken. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours.

Marinated chicken in a baggie
If you close the baggie halfway, then slowly submerse it in a big pot of water to force out the air, sealing the last bit at the very end, your marinade will give the chicken maximum flavor.

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Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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