Use of this website is subject to mandatory arbitration and other terms and conditions, select this link to read those agreements.

Sansai Gohan (Rice with Mountain Vegetables) 山菜ご飯

Jump to Recipe Discussion
  • This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for details. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Sansai Gohan is a mixed rice dish filled with fresh, tender, fragrant mountain vegetables. Welcome the arrival of spring by enjoying a bowl of lightly seasoned mountain vegetable rice!

    Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Gohan) served in a green ceramic bowl.

    Living in the mild California climate, I miss the colorful changes during the four distinct seasons in Japan, from foliage in fall to cherry blossoms in spring. I also miss the seasonal changes in ingredients. When sansai (山菜) or mountain vegetables are in grocery stores in Japan, you know that spring is just around the corner. Although we don’t get that well-defined seasonality here, I always use cooking as a way to enjoy seasonal changes. And you know when it’s spring in my kitchen; you find me preparing a bowl of Sansai Gohan (山菜ご飯).

    What’s Sansai Gohan?

    Sansai Gohan (山菜ご飯) or Rice with Mountain Vegetables is rice that is cooked with sansai – literally meaning “mountain vegetable.” The rice is slightly seasoned with kombu, soy sauce, sake, and mirin, but the flavors mostly come from the assorted mountain vegetables.

    Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Gohan) served in a green ceramic bowl.

    Sansai – Mountain Vegetables

    Sansai are the edible buds and shoots of plants that are found in the wild. These wild shrubs and herbs are foraged in early spring, before they get too tough to eat. Some even start to pop up before the snow melts! They are fresh, succulent, and tender, and have very distinctive flavors. Treasured as the gifts of spring, these wild vegetables are extremely nutritious and high in medicinal properties. You can enjoy them raw, boiled, deep-fried as tempura, pickled and many other cooking methods.

    Here are some of the popular sansai varieties:

    • fuki (butterbur stalks)
    • fuki no tou (flower buds of butterbur)
    • kogomi (ostrich fern)
    • seri (Oenanthe javanica, part of the parsley family)
    • takenoko (bamboo)
    • tara no me (young shoots of the Japanese Angelica tree pant, considered “the king of wild vegetables”)
    • warabi (bracken fiddleheads)
    • zenmai (flowering fern top, more prized than kogomi or warabi)

    Although sansai refers to wild vegetables foraged in the mountain, in recent years, some sansai varieties have been cultivated and farm-grown.

    Popular Japanese Saisai Dishes

    When you visit Japan, you will likely to see these popular sansai menus in Teishoku (pre-set meal) restaurants and noodle shops.

    • Sansai Gohan (山菜ご飯)
    • Sansai Soba/Udon (山菜そば・うどん)
    • Sansai Tempura (山菜天ぷら)

    You may also find sansai in shojin ryori (精進料理, vegetarian devotion cuisine) served at many Buddhist temples, especially in Kyoto.

    Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Gohan) served in a green ceramic bowl.

    Where to Find Sansai – Mountain Vegetables

    You can buy “sansai mix” in Japanese grocery stores. They are pre-cooked and come in a bag filled with water, so they need to be refrigerated. I haven’t really looked for the vegetable mixture in Korean or Chinese grocery stores, so I’m not sure of the availability (Let me know if you find it there). The mix includes variations of the sansai mentioned above, along with mushrooms and carrots etc.

    All the sansai in the bag are pre-cooked, so all you need to do is to drain, and they are ready to use.

    Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Gohan) served in a green ceramic bowl.

    Substitute and Tips for Sansai Gohan 

    Kombu: This umami rich seaweed/kelp is the base of the flavor component in this seasoned rice. You can use other type of dashi, but to achieve the “authentic” Japanese taste, kombu dashi is the key. I don’t recommend using chicken stock in this recipe, for example.

    Sansai: The vegetable mix is the most difficult one to find for this recipe. But it is the main ingredient, and by substituting it, it basically becomes a different dish. If you’re curious to try, I recommend trying my other mixed rice recipes like Takikomi Gohan, Ginger Rice, Sweet Onion Rice, and Gobo & Miso Takikomi Gohan.

    Aburaage: You may notice that I include aburaage in most of my mixed rice recipe and there’s a good reason for that. The oil from the deep-fried tofu pouch gives amazing savory flavor without the addition of meat. When you’re making a dish with a simple layer, especially a vegetarian dish, toss in some aburaage can help to heighten the textures. I am also aware that this ingredient is much harder to find than Inariage, which is the seasoned tofu pouch often used for Inari Sushi. If you are going to use Inariage, remember it’s very sweet, so you have to adjust the seasonings.

    Usukuchi Soy Sauce: This light-colored soy sauce is actually saltier than regular soy sauce. In Kansai region of Japan (Osaka and Kyoto area), light-colored soy sauce is used to preserve the original color of the foods. You can use regular soy sauce for this recipe, but remember it’s slightly less saltier than usukuchi soy sauce.

    Sake & Mirin: If you want to learn more about these two essential Japanese condiments, please click here.

    Kosher salt: I often receive questions why I add salt when soy sauce is already included. Well, both salt and soy sauce actually play different roles. Soy sauce is used to lend a savory profile, while salt is to enhance the overall flavor of the dish. When you are doing the final tasting of the dish, you can just adjust the amount of salt to boost the flavor without adding more soy sauce.

    With a hint of woodsy and earthy flavor, Sansai Gohan is a rustic dish that reminds me what a special time of year spring is. To enjoy, serve this mixed rice with a bowl of miso soup.

    Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Gohan) served in a green ceramic bowl.

    Don’t want to miss a recipe? Sign up for the FREE Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch with me on FacebookGoogle+Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates.

    5 from 4 votes
    Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Gohan) served in a green ceramic bowl.
    Sansai Gohan (Rice with Mountain Vegetables)
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    45 mins
    Resting Time
    20 mins
    Total Time
    1 hr 20 mins

    Sansai Gohan is a mixed rice dish filled with fresh, tender, fragrant mountain vegetables. Welcome the arrival of spring by enjoying a bowl of lightly seasoned mountain vegetable rice!

    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: mixed rice, rice
    Servings: 4
    Author: Namiko Chen
    • 3 Tbsp soy sauce (Preferably light-colored (usukuchi) soy sauce. Use GF soy sauce for gluten free)
    • 2 Tbsp sake
    • 2 ½ Tbsp mirin
    • ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Sansai Gohan Ingredients
    2. To make kombu dashi - Add kombu in 2 ½ cup water. Let the kombu steep in water until ready to use.

      Sansai Gohan 1
    3. Rinse rice and soak in water for 20 minutes. If you’re using short grain rice, ALWAYS soak the rice before you cook. Then drain excess water well, making sure there is NO MOISTURE left in the rice. We do not want to dilute the seasonings. 

      Sansai Gohan 2
    4. To remove the oil from aburaage, you can either pour boiling water over the tofu pouch in a sieve over the sink, or have a quick blanch over the boiling water in a small pot for 15 seconds (flipping 1-2 times).

      Sansai Gohan 3
    5. Cut the aburaage thinly.
      Sansai Gohan 4
    6. Drain the sansai mizuni in a sieve and quickly rinse with running water.
      Sansai Gohan 5
    7. In a rice cooker bowl, add the rice and seasonings (3 Tbsp soy sauce (usukuchi or GF), 2 Tbsp sake, 2 ½ Tbsp mirin, and ½ tsp salt).

      Sansai Gohan 6
    8. Then add in kombu dashi (remove kombu first) and mix well.

      Sansai Gohan 7
    9. Add the sansai mix and aburaage on top. Place in the rice cooker and start cooking. If you have a “Mixed Rice” option, use it (See Notes below).
      Sansai Gohan 8
    10. Once the rice is cooked, using a rice scooper, fluff the rice and combine well with ingredients. Serve in a rice bowl and enjoy!
      Sansai Gohan 9
    To Store
    1. You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month.

    Recipe Notes

    Regular or Mixed Rice setting on rice cooker: The main difference is that the Mixed Rice setting will create burnt rice called “Okoge” on the bottom of the rice cooker. Takikomi Gohan (mixed rice) always have the burnt rice from soy sauce in the seasoning, and many people enjoy the burnt charred rice. If your rice cooker doesn’t have the mixed rice option, steam an extra 5 min longer at the end before opening the rice cooker.

    Make It Into A Meal

    Leave A Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating

    What type of comment do you have?


  • Kristin wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Kristin wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Jenn wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
    • Patrick Thompson wrote:
      • Nami wrote:
  • Kailing Koh wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Su wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Rob Masuda wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Rob wrote:
        • Nami wrote:
  • Gyoza served on a plate.
    Just One Cookbook logo
    Just One Cookbook logo

    free email series

    5 Secrets to Japanese Cooking

    Making flavorful Japanese food is

    EASIER than you think.

    You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.

    For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

    No thanks, I am not interested