Takikomi gohan, or “mixed rice” is a delicious way to clean out your vegetable drawer. There are many variations on this using different types of vegetables and meats including seafood. What they all have in common is that the rice is cooked in a dashi stock and soy sauce mixture to really infuse the it with flavor. Since the veggies and rice have really different cooking times I like to sauté the veggies first so that they’re still crisp, just enough to “sweat” them (yes, it’s a culinary term that you wouldn’t really want to associate with your food but hey…) softening them a little and allowing them to release their juices. Most recipes actually have you just dump everything in the rice cooker at the same time and while that’s also an option, I prefer my veggies not to be mushy, hence the extra step and cooking it on the stove. This particular version is vegan with the protein in the form of cashews. I like to use cashews as a protein source because not only do they contain less fat than most nuts but 75% of it is unsaturated, the majority of which is oleic acid (the major component of olive oil). The fact that they taste scrumptious and add a nice textural crunch is the cherry on top :). The sprinkle of shichimi togarashi, Japanese seven spice pepper, adds a nice zing with its red chili pepper, orange zest and sesame seeds. Actually takikomi gohan is so yummy you may find yourself cleaning out your refrigerator on a daily basis.
A helping hand:
1) The easiest way to make sure your veggies cook at the same time is to make sure your dice is fairly uniform in size. Lots of big and small chunks will make for mushy tidbits and crunchy chunks.
2) If you don’t have dashi stock you can easily substitute vegetable stock.
3) If you feel bad about wasting all those mushroom stems whenever you’re cooking just set them aside in the refrigerator and then when you have a cup’s worth, boil them to make mushroom stock. Stocks will last in the refrigerator for several days or freeze them to pull out as needed. I pre-measure a cup, pour it into a zip baggy, and place it in a flat tupperware container in the freezer. Once it’s frozen you can remove the tupperware and wedge it into whatever space is available in the freezer.
4) If you’re cooking gluten-free, look for tamari soy sauce but look carefully at the ingredients as not all tamari is wheat-free though if it does contain wheat it’s much less than regular soy sauce.
2 c white rice (I prefer sushi rice but any glutinous short grain rice will do like arborio)
2 c konbu (dried seaweed kelp) or shiitake mushroom dashi stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
5 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cabbage, julienned
1/2 c cashews
1 small zucchini, skin on and diced
1/2 yellow squash, skin on and diced
3 tsp canola oil
Shichimi togarashi (optional)
In a large pot, at least 3 quarts, heat 2 tsp oil on medium heat ~ 30 seconds. Sauté onions and carrots till onions are translucent ~ 1 minute. Add mushrooms, zucchini, and squash and sauté for another minute. Set aside in a small bowl. In the same pot add rice and dashi stock, decrease heat to low and cover. Cook for ~ 15 minutes till rice is almost done, tender on the outside but still chewy inside. Add vegetables, cover, and cook for another 3-5 minutes till rice is done and tender throughout.
While vegetables and rice are cooking heat remaining tsp of oil in a skillet or wok on med-hi heat. Sauté cabbage till it wilts ~ 1 minute. Add cashews and mix. Remove from heat. Mix in cabbage mixture with rice. Serve in rice bowls or other deep bowls and sprinkle with shichimi togarashi. Makes 4 servings.
**If using a rice cooker you can sauté the veggies as described above but cook them until they’re crisp-tender or simply add everything to the rice cooker all at once. With the second method you will have very soft veggies.