Rice with Chicken and Bunashimeji Mushrooms

Savory Japan’s recipe section is updated with a hearty Autumn menu that’s perfect for cool days like today. Central to the meal is this very simple takikomi gohan (flavored rice) recipe with chicken and bunashimeji mushrooms. This is SO much simpler than the takikomi gohan recipe we featured last fall. It only takes 15 minutes to put together, and the rice cooker does the rest.

Takikomi means “to simmer into”, and this recipe does just that: by simmering everything together,  the rice is infused with the rich flavor of chicken. In a departure from traditional Japanese recipes, we used butter to saute the chicken and mushrooms, and chicken stock instead of dashi. The result is a rich rice dish that is a little like Spanish arroz con pollo, but soy sauce and sake give it a uniquely Japanese flavor.

We served this with roasted rakkyo, which is difficult to find in the West. Shallots or pearl onions would do nicely. Just roast them with a little oil, and then glaze with soy sauce mixed with a little sugar.

3 cups uruchi mai (white rice) or haiga mai (half-polished brown rice)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 boneless chicken thighs
1 package bunashimeji mushrooms
4″ x 4″ square of kombu (kelp)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sake

Dice the chicken thighs into 1/2″ cubes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside for a few minutes. Cut off the bottom inedible portion of the bunashimeji mushrooms and discard. Cut mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces.

Saute chicken in butter over high heat until the outsides are seared. Add mushrooms saute for 2 minutes.

Measure, wash and drain the rice, and add to a rice cooker. Add the chicken and mushroom mixture. Add chicken stock, sake and soy sauce. Mix.  If desired, place the kombu on top of the rice. Turn on rice cooker.

When the rice is finished, remove the kombu and gently mix (the mushrooms tend to float to the top). Taste to adjust seasonings. If desired, add extra butter for flavor.

Serves 6

By the way, the photo above was done to show different varieties of rice for the current issue of Kyoto Visitor’s Guide. We normally wouldn’t serve rice this way; we just wanted to show the colors of autumn against the vivid green of the Raku box.