I eat a lot of porridge especially in the winter time, as the dish is not only so gentle to your stomach, but is also a great way to keep your body warm. In Japanese tradition, on January 7, we eat Nanakusa-gayu (7-herb rice porridge), and it’s a custom to to bring health and longevity. It also has a meaning to clean your body with this simple porridge after consecutive days of feast during the New Year holidays.
Outside of Japan, including Los Angeles where I live, it’s not easy to source all the 7 kinds of Japanese herbs locally, so I actually enjoy making my own version with just kabu (Japanese turnips; its’ leaves are one of 7 herbs in Nanakusa-gayu) and use pure soymilk, in addition to kombu infused water, to cook the rice. It’s rich, creamy, really flavorful, and still light in your stomach.
It’s totally fine to cook it only with water (for more plain version), or use your choice of dashi such as kombu and bonito dashi for slightly deeper flavor. And, you can enjoy with your choice of condiments.
Vegan optionThis is a vegan dish
EquipmentKamado-san (3 rice-cup size)
Servings2 - 3
- 3 medium kabu (Japanese turnips) with leaves attached
- 3 1/2 cups (840 ml) water or your choice of dashi
- 1 (2″ x 2″/ 5 cm x 5 cm) piece dry kombu, optional
- 1 rice-cup (180 ml) short grain rice, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) pure soymilk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Your choice of condiments, such as crystalized shoyu, yuzu powder, etc.
- Cut off the leaves from the turnip bulbs. Peel the skin of the bulbs and cut into 1/2″ (1.2 cm) cubes. For the leaves and stems, cut into 1/3″ (8 mm) pieces.
- Combine the water and kombu in the donabe, and let the kombu soak for 20 – 30 minutes. (Or, you can just start with only water or your choice of dashi instead, without the addition of kombu.)
- Add the rice, cover with lid, and set over medium-high heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, stir a few times to make sure the rice is not sticking to the bottom. Remove the kombu.
- Slide the lid slightly to create more breathing space (to avoid the contents from boiling over), and continue to simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is thickened but still smooth. Meanwhile, stir a few times to make sure the rice is not sticking to the bottom.
- Add the soymilk and turnip bulbs. Turn up the heat to medium-high again. As soon as the liquid starts to simmer, turn down the heat again to a gentle simmer. Continue to cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is thickened but still smooth.
- Add the salt and turnip leaves (if there is so much leaves, use 1/2 or 2/3 of the entire amount), and stir again. Turn off the heat, and cover tightly with lid. Let it rest for 3 – 5 minutes.
- Serve into individual bowls at the table, and enjoy with your choice of condiments.
Bulbs and leaves (including stems) of the turnips are cut and standing by.
Once the porridge is thickened, add the turnip bulbs and soymilk.
Slide the lid slightly in order for the contents from boiling over.
Turnip leaves are added to finish.
Creamy porridge is ready.
When I make it just for myself, I use a small-size donabe (the photo is small Rikyu-Tokusa) and simply reduce the recipe amount by half.