Nanakusa-gayu – Seven Herb Porridge
The Festival of Seven Herbs is a Japanese custom of eating seven-herb rice porridge (nanakusa-gayu) in January to bring longevity and health, and is also intended to ward off evil. But maybe we continued this tradition for more practical reasons, like mine. I eat nanakusa-gayu to rest my stomach after Christmas and the New Year – I always feel I ate too much good food during the holidays and need to slow down.
If you cannot find all the herbs (usually you can find a set of all the herbs in a plastic container at supermarkets around this time of year), you can just make a nice porridge without it. Once in a while, eating simple food will clear your system and will be good for you, so why not try this Japanese way.
(Serves 4 people)
• 1 package of seven herbs (water dropwort-seri, shepherd’s purse-nazuna, cudweed –gogyō, chickweed-hakobera, nipplewort-hotokenoza, turnip-suzuna and radish-suzushiro
• 6 cups of water and 1 dashi pack
• 1 ½ cups of rice
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon of soy sauce or miso if you like to add flavor
1. Pour all the water into a saucepan and add the dashi pack. Bring it to a boil and cook for 3 minutes on medium heat. Once it is done, take out the dashi pack and let the water cool down.
2. Rinse the rice in a sieve and leave it for 20 minutes.
3. Place the rice in a saucepan and pour in the dashi water. Put a lid on and bring it to boil on medium heat. (Be careful not to let the rice and water overflow when it comes to the boil.) Once it is boiled, simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Check the rice occasionally and add more water if necessary.
4. While cooking the rice, wash and chop all the herbs.
5. Once the porridge is done, add salt and the herbs. Cook for another 1 minute to lightly cook the herbs.
You can use a pressure cooker to cook much faster. With the pressure cooker, once steam starts to spout out, reduce to a low heat and cook for 10 minutes, then leave it to cool down for 10 minutes.
If you want to learn more about cooking Japanese food, don’t forget to check out my regular cooking classes! Website: andys-workshop.com/cookery.html Facebook: facebook.com/cooking.with.nao Tel: 098-955-5311 Address: 862-1 Namihira, Yomitan village, Okinawa 904-0322 Class times: Let’s Roll! – Sushi and Home Cooking: both classes take 2.5 hours Class starts: 10:00 and 13:30. Closed on Sundays, Bookings and inquiries: 10:00 to 20:00