Takikomi gohan is a wonderful and comforting Japanese mixed rice recipe made with seasonal ingredients. It’s a savory bowl of flavorful rice that’s perfect to serve with simple meals. 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.
What is Takikomi Gohan?
Takikomi gohan is a Japanese rice dish in which we cook short-grain rice with vegetables, mushrooms, seafood or meat. We usually season it 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), five-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 we cook the uncooked rice and other ingredients in the same pot, maze gohan is 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.
You can make a simple takikomi gohan with white rice, carrots, burdock root (gobo), konnyaku (a wobbly jello-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 konbu dashi, this dish is vegetarian and vegan.
Some variations include chicken thigh or breast, adding more flavors to the dish; I’ve made today’s recipe with chicken thigh.
Popular Takikomi Gohan Ingredients
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)
Chestnuts (recipe) — fall
Clams or asari (あさり)
Matsutake mushrooms (recipe) — fall
Mushrooms — king oyster, maitake, shimeji, etc
Pacific saury or sanma (秋刀魚) — fall
Japanese enjoy making different takikomi gohan depending on the season.
3 Tips to Make the Best Takikomi Gohan
Here are some important tips and techniques to remember when you make takikomi gohan.
- Be mindful of portion 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 percent 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 cook properly.
- Soak rice in water
It’s very important to soak the 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 a 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 that could dilute the seasonings. Also, be sure not to drain it for too long because the rice will crack when it gets too dry.
You might think soaking the rice in the seasoning adds more flavor to the rice. But that’s not true. Soy sauce and other seasonings prevent the rice from absorbing water. Plus, the seasoning will separate into layers if you leave it too long. Therefore, it’s best to start cooking immediately after you add the seasonings and toppings.
- Do not mix rice and other ingredients before cooking
Make sure to mix the rice and ingredients 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 put the softer ingredients on top.
Immediately after the 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 it together, the rice absorbs more flavors from the ingredients. However, it also means that the ingredients are cooking for the same amount of time as the rice, 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 mixing it with the rice later.
Scallops are a good example: they don’t need to be cooked for a long time. If you cook them with the rice, the scallops will overcook and become 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 them with the 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: https://www.justonecookbook.com/instant-pot-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.
If you’re gluten intolerant, check out my Gluten-Free Recipes at https://www.justonecookbook.com/tags/gluten-free/ for additional recipe ideas.
Takikomi Gohan (Japanese Mixed Rice)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
11/2 cups uncooked Japanese short-grain white rice (or 2 rice cooker cups)
3 dried shiitake mushrooms (0.5 oz, 15 g)
1/2 cup water (for soaking the shiitake and making shiitake dashi)
1/3 package konnyaku (konjac) (three oz, 85 g)
1 piece aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch) (3/4 oz, 20 g)
1 oz gobo (burdock root) (four inches, 10 cm)
2 oz carrot (3 inches, 7.5 cm)
1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh (4.8 oz, 135 g)
1½ cups dashi (Japanese soup stock) (use the shiitake dashi you made from soaking the mushrooms plus standard awase dashi, dashi packet or powder, or vegan dashi)
11/2 Tbsp mirin
11/2 Tbsp soy sauce
For the Garnish
mitsuba (Japanese parsley) (or substitute green onion/scallion)
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/ingredient-substitution-for-japanese-cooking/.
To read the full recipe, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/takikomi-gohan/.