Table for one / Rice packed with flavor, nutrition

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Clockwise from top left: Takikomi gohan bibimbap, takikomi gohan with tuna and broccoli, and tomato pilaf with chicken and shimeji mushroom

The Yomiuri ShimbunTakikomi gohan

When cooking for one, it’s really tiresome to prepare rice and other items separately. Cooking expert Keiko Iwasaki suggests cooking takikomi gohan (boiled rice with seasonings and various ingredients) as a way to prepare everything in one dish. Adding meat or fish as well as vegetables makes it more nutritious.

“Takikomi gohan is like a mixture of rice and another dish after meat or fish is added. It’s also easy to prepare and doesn’t take much time,” Iwasaki said.

Takikomi gohan can be prepared in a stainless steel pot, which is less time-consuming than using a rice cooker. Unlike a donabe earthenware pot, a stainless steel pot can also be used for other processes such as stir-frying.

Iwasaki recommends a mid-sized pot about 18 centimeters in diameter, because a small pot can easily boil over.

Iwasaki prepared three styles of takikomi gohan — Japanese, South Korean and Western.

The Japanese-style takikomi gohan with tuna and broccoli has a vibrant color and the pungency of ginger. The South Korean-style is similar to bibimbap. The rich flavors of sesame oil and beef make this dish appetizing.

The Western-style dish, similar to pilaf, has a good combination of the sour taste of tomatoes, the rich taste of chicken and the sweetness of onions.

Iwsasaki uses 1 go, or 150 grams, of raw polished rice for each dish, which makes a little over one portion. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge.

Once the rice and water come to a boil in the stainless steel pot, turn the heat to medium and cook for five minutes. Turn it lower and cook for another five minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the rice steam for 10 minutes. This method is used for all three dishes.

Keep to the recommended cooking times, and note that the rice will burn if the heat is kept at medium.

A good balance of ingredients among meat, fish and vegetables is recommended.

One fish that can be used in this dish is sashimi-ready sea bream. When using carrot, burdock and daikon, chop them finely. Potato, pumpkin and taro should be cut into bite-size pieces.

Iwasaki added broccoli and nira garlic chives just before steaming the dish. Other kinds of vegetables that cook quickly are also suitable for this treatment. Mizuna (potherb mustard), komatsuna (mustard spinach) and asparagus can be used as replacement vegetables.

In addition to ginger and sesame oil for flavoring, Iwasaki also offers the option of adding curry powder, consomme stock or herbs for an appetizing aroma.

“You can prepare a simple vegetable soup or cold tofu if you wish to complement it with another dish,” Iwasaki said.

Recipes for takikomi gohan dishes

Takikomi gohan with tuna and broccoli

Wash 150 grams of rice and drain the water. Soak the rice in 200cc of water in a pot for 30 minutes. Mix ⅓ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon soy sauce and ½ knob of finely chopped ginger into the rice. Drain the oil from a can of tuna (75 grams), and put it on the rice. Cover the pot with a lid and cook over high heat until boiling, then turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 5 minutes. After turning it off, add 3 large broccoli florets, broken up, and steam for 10 minutes.

Takikomi gohan bibimbap

Season 100 grams of beef strips with a dash of salt and pepper, a little over 1 teaspoon soy sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, a little finely chopped garlic, ½ teaspoon finely chopped green onion, a small amount of chili pepper and ½ teaspoon sesame oil. Wash the rice and soak it in water in a pot. Add 1 teaspoon soy sauce, ⅓ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, finely chopped garlic and green onion to the rice and mix. Place 50 grams of bean sprouts and 30 grams of carrot strips on top of the rice. Place seasoned beef strips evenly over the rice. Apply heat in the same manner as mentioned above. After turning off the heat, add 8 nira chive leaves cut into small pieces and steam. Finally, sprinkle with a little ground white sesame.

Tomato pilaf with chicken and shimeji mushroom

Wash rice briefly and drain the water. Put 1½ teaspoons olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add 20 grams of finely cut onions and a little finely chopped garlic, and stir-fry until the onion becomes soft. Sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper on 100 grams of bite-sized pieces of dark chicken meat. Add the chicken to the pot and cook until the color of the chicken changes. Add the rice, fry briefly and turn off the heat. Pour in 200cc of water, add a dash of pepper and a little less than ½ teaspoon salt, and mix briefly. Add five cherry tomatoes and 60 grams of shimeji mushrooms cut into small bunches. Apply heat in the same manner as described above. Before serving, coarsely crush the tomatoes and mix them into other ingredients.

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