Takikomi Gohan is a wonderful and comforting Japanese mixed rice recipe made with seasonal ingredients. This recipe is also gluten free!
One of the easiest ways to include more vegetables in your diet is to add vegetables to your rice. When your main course is a simple dish such as grilled fish, Japanese Mixed Rice or Takikomi Gohan (炊き込みご飯) brings up more flavors and varieties to the meal.
Watch How To Make Takikomi Gohan
Click here to watch on YouTube.
What is Takikomi Gohan?
Takikomi Gohan is a Japanese rice dish in which short-grain rice is cooked with vegetables, mushrooms, seafood, or meat. It’s usually seasoned with Japanese stock (dashi) and soy sauce.
Depending on where you are/live in Japan, this dish might be called Kayaku Gohan (かやくご飯) or Gomoku Gohan (五目ご飯), 5-ingredient mixed rice, which is loosely translated because there are roughly five ingredients.
There is also a very similar dish called Maze Gohan (混ぜご飯). Unlike Takikomi Gohan where uncooked rice and other ingredients are cooked in the same pot, Maze Gohan is the cooked rice mixed with cooked and seasoned ingredients.
Do any of these names sound familiar to you?
Takikomi Gohan Ingredients
What are good ingredients to put in your Takikomi Gohan recipe? Let’s start with the most basic one, which is today’s recipe.
A simple Takikomi Gohan is made with white rice, carrots, burdock root (gobo), konnyaku (a wobbly jello-o like slab made of taro/yam), deep-fried tofu pouch (aburaage), and shiitake mushrooms. These are the most common ingredients that you expect to see in Takikomi Gohan. If you use kombu dashi, this dish is vegetarian and vegan.
Some variations include chicken thigh or breast adding more flavors to the dish, and I’ve made today’s recipe with chicken thigh.
Besides the basic ingredients I mentioned above, these are other popular and seasonal ingredients used in Takikomi Gohan.
- Bamboo shoots – spring
- Beef (thinly sliced or scraps)
- Canned tuna
- Chestnuts (recipe) – fall
- Clams or Asari (あさり)
- Hijiki seaweed
- Matsutake Mushrooms (recipe) – fall
- Mushrooms – king oyster, maitake, shimeji, etc
- Pacific saury or Sanma (秋刀魚) – fall
- Sweet potatoes
Japanese enjoy making different Takikomi Gohan depending on the season, and I’ll be sharing them on my blog in the future.
How To Make the Best Takikomi Gohan
Here are some important tips and techniques to remember when you make Takikomi Gohan.
1) Keep portion in control
I tend to add too many ingredients when I make this dish and it doesn’t feel like a rice dish anymore. So, keep in mind that the ingredients should be roughly 20-30% of cooked rice when it’s done cooking (eyeball this, it doesn’t have to be perfect). If you put too many of these ingredients, they will absorb all the liquid in the rice cooker and the rice will not be properly cooked.
2) Soak rice in water
It’s very important to soak rice after washing it. It will help the rice to absorb the flavors from the ingredients and seasonings. It will also help the rice become fluffier and tender.
After proper soaking, make sure to drain the water for at least 15 minutes. This is very important so that when you add to the rice cooker bowl, you won’t incidentally add any extra water that’s not called for in the recipe which could dilute the seasonings. Also, be sure not to drain too long because the rice will crack when it gets too dry.
You might think allowing the rice to soak in seasoning adds more flavor to the dish. However, it’s best to start cooking immediately before seasonings separate into layers.
3) Do not mix rice and other ingredients before Cooking
Rice and ingredients should be mixed together only after the rice is cooked. The rice gets cooked properly (due to the circulation of heat and water) when it’s cooked at the bottom of the rice cooker bowl (or even pot).
When you are adding ingredients on top of the rice, place hard ingredients like root vegetables first, then gradually to softer ingredients on top.
Immediately after Takikomi Gohan is done cooking, fluff up the rice with a rice paddle as if you are cutting the rice and then scoop over to gently mix the rice and ingredients all together.
Takikomi Gohan vs. Maze Gohan
Remember, Takikomi Gohan is the rice COOKED WITH ingredients. Maze Gohan is the cooked rice MIXED with cooked ingredients. Some of you might wonder which method is better, and here are my thoughts.
When you cook together, the rice absorbs more flavors from the ingredients. However, it also means that the ingredients are being cooked the same amount of time the rice is being cooked, so the ingredients can become harder and tougher.
Therefore, if you use ingredients that you want to keep tender and don’t want to lose the texture, I recommend cooking it separately and mix it with rice later. Scallops are a good example: they don’t need to be cooked for a long time. If you cook with rice, the scallops will be overcooked and dry.
On the other hand, if the ingredients are dry (like hijiki seaweed and dried shiitake mushrooms) and it takes time for them to release the flavors, cook it together with rice. Also if the ingredients you use are flavorful, cook together with rice.
Do you have an Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker)?
No rice cooker? You can make Takikomi Gohan in your Instant Pot too! Check out the detailed recipe here: Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Takikomi Gohan.
Use Gluten-Free Soy Sauce for GF Takikomi Gohan
This Takikomi Gohan recipe can be easily converted to a gluten-free dish if you use gluten-free soy sauce.
Kikkoman offers this gluten-free tamari soy sauce. If you want to know more about this product, please click here.
If you’re gluten intolerant, check out my Gluten-Free Recipes for additional recipe ideas.
Takikomi Gohan (Japanese Mixed Rice)
- 2 rice cooker cups uncooked Japanese short-grain rice (2 rice-cooker-cups (180 ml x 2 = 360 ml) yields roughly 4 servings (3 ½ US cups))
- 3 dried shiitake mushrooms (0.5 oz, 15 g)
- ½ cup water
- ⅓ package konnyaku (konjac) (3 oz, 85 g)
- 1 piece aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch) (¾ oz, 20 g)
- 2 oz carrot (3", 7.5 cm)
- 1 oz gobo (burdock root) (4", 10 cm)
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh (4.8 oz, 135 g)
- 1 ½ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock; click to learn more)
- 1 ½ Tbsp mirin
- 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
- mitsuba (Japanese parsley) (you can substitute it with green onion/scallion)
- Prepare all the ingredients.
- Wash the rice in a large bowl. Rice absorbs water very quickly when you start washing, so don't let the rice absorb the opaque water. Gently wash the rice in a circular motion and discard the water. Repeat this process about 3-4 times.
- Let the rice soak in water for 30-60 minutes. This helps the rice absorb the seasonings later on and become more tender and moist after cooking. Transfer the rice into a sieve and drain completely for at least 15 minutes. Place the washed and drained rice in the rice cooker.
- Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. Soak 3 dried shiitake mushrooms in a ½ cup of water for 15 minutes. I place a smaller bowl on top to keep the mushrooms submerged in the water at all times.
- In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to boil. Put ⅓ konnyaku and cook for 1 minute to get rid of the smell. Transfer the konnyaku to a plate to cool. Add the aburaage to the same pot of water and cook for 1 minute. This removes excess oil from the aburaage. Transfer aburaage to a plate to cool. Discard the water.
- Shave off the gobo skin with the back of the knife. Don’t peel the gobo with a peeler to keep the earthy flavor and fragrance. Then make a “cross” slit on tip of the gobo as you see in the picture below.
- Make a lengthwise cross-shape incision about 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm) deep at one end. Shave from that end as if you were sharpening a pencil with a knife while constantly rotating with the other hand. Soak in the water to prevent it from changing color.
- Cut the carrot in half lengthwise and cut diagonally into thin slices. Then cut the slices into julienned or smaller pieces.
- Cut the aburaage and konnyaku into thin small strips.
- Cut the chicken thigh into ¾ inch (2 cm) slanted pieces. Hold your knife at 45-degree angle and slice the chicken. This “sogigiri” cutting technique gives the chicken more surface area so it will cook faster and soak up flavors quickly.
- Squeeze the liquid from dried shiitake mushrooms and save the liquid (this is called Shiitake Dashi). Remove the stem and cut the caps into thinly slices.
- Strain the Shiitake Dashi into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of dirty particles. Set aside. In a measuring cup, add all the shiitake dashi and then pour dashi so you’ll have 1 ½ cup (360 ml) of liquid. Add it to the rice cooker and mix well.
- Now your ingredients are ready!
- Add 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce and 1 ½ Tbsp mirin to the rice.
- Pour the dashi & shiitake dashi mixture into the rice and mix well.
- Add the chicken and evenly distribute over the rice. Do NOT mix the rice with ingredients. The rice won’t be able to absorb enough water to cook and it will end up with a hard texture. Continue from the hard ingredients to softer ingredients. Without mixing all up, start cooking the rice. If you have a “Mixed Rice” option, use it (See Notes below).
- Once the rice is done cooking, use a rice paddle to stir the rice and vegetables with light slicing and tossing motions to distribute the ingredients evenly. The bottom of the rice gets slightly caramelized, and this part is called Okoge and it’s especially tasty.
- Serve the rice hot or at room temperature. Sprinkle chopped mitsuba or green onion on top.
- You can keep the leftover rice in the freezer for up to a month. I don't recommend storing it in the refrigerator as the rice gets too dry and hard.
Full Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kikkoman USA. Thoughts and opinions stated are my own.