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.