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Rice & Rice Dishes
 

Basic Rice
Follow these instructions for making perfect rice. You can use a heavy steel or aluminum pot with a heavy lid, but a rice cooker makes life considerably easier. I've used one ever since my student days, and have upgraded as the technology has improved. I currently use a Zojirushi 5-1/2-Cup Rice Cooker that is capable of feeding a large family, though I normally make 3 or 4 cups at a time. The main advantage is convenience and reliability. It is how I start the preparation for every meal. By the time the other dishes are done, so is the rice. It's a no-brainer. RECIPE
For information on the different types of rice, go to the rice page in the ingredients section:

Takikomi Gohan (flavored rice)
There are many ways to mix ingredients into rice. Two of the most common forms are Takikomi-gohan, where the ingredients are cooked in the rice, and Maze-gohan, where the ingredients are added after the rice is cooked. This traditional recipe can be used with either plain rice or mochi (often labeled sweet) rice. RECIPE

I often us a ceramic donabe for this, as it seems to taste better, and the bottom gets a nice, intensely flavored and somewhat crispy layer of okoge (toasted rice). You can purchase these at Toiro (see their ad to the left.)

 

Onigiri
Onigiri (rice balls) are Japan’s answer to the sandwich. The term, literally meaning “to squeeze with hands” describes the technique used to make them; by pressing hot rice with your hands and forming balls (or triangles), which are then cooled and eaten cold, for lunch or on the go.
It is said that the onigiri dates back to the Heian era, when court nobles handed out rice to the peasants. It was also a common way to bring food when traveling, and soldiers during battles relied on onigiri filled with umeboshi (pickled plum), which is salty and preserves the rice, for sustenance.
A variety of fillings can be used to add variety to onigiri. It is often a way to use leftovers, such as salt grilled salmon. These days, a variety of onigiri are available at convenience stores for only 100 yen or so, making a very convenient snack or meal for people on the run. RECIPE
Omusubi (to tie with hands) denotes plain rice formed into shapes, which is usually not salted nor flavored.

Asparagus Rice
Asparagus is not an original Japanese vegetable, but is widely used for western cuisine, as well as for modern recipes such as this. If you have a donabe, use it rather than a rice cooker, as the flavor will be better, and you can bring the donabe to the table. A small quantity of butter added at the end gives an added richness and goes well with the asparagus. RECIPE

Takenoko Gohan (bamboo shoot rice)
Fresh bamboo shoots are available in April and May, so this is considered a spring dish. In the west, look for shoots packages in water, not the type in a can. One shoot should be enough for rice and another bamboo dish. Takenoko Gohan is particularly fragrant. If you have a donabe, use it rather than a rice cooker, as the flavor will be better, and you can bring the donabe to the table. RECIPE

Rice with Chicken and Bunashimeji Mushrooms
This very easy and simple recipe uses non-Japanese ingredients such as butter, and chicken stock instead of dashi, resulting in a richly flavored rice dish that is a little like Spanish arroz con pollo. However, sake and soy sauce give it a uniquely Japanese flavor. This literally takes only 15 minutes to put together, and teh rice cooker does the rest. RECIPE

Chicken and Bunashimeji Rice
 
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