七草がゆ (7 herb porridge)

in japan, we celebrate new years day just like christmas in the west. families get together, eat the new year’s feast called “おせち (osechi)”, preserved type of food such as beans, egg cakes, fish cakes, vegetable pickles, etc. which are prepared a few days in advance and nicely decorated in layered boxes. we also eat this soup called “お雑煮 (ozouni)”, which in the area where i’m from is usually bonito fish based soup with chicken, raddish and carrots, always served with “お餅 (omochi)”, sticky rice cake.

this year we were in japan over the new year’s period, so we had my parents over at our place and had the new year’s feast with them. to my dismay however, due to all the preparation & excitement for the new year’s day, i totally forgot to take photos of this great feast – dah!!!

so here i present what we eat 7 days after the new year’s day (so 7th of january), which is called “七草がゆ (rice porridge with 7 different kinds of herbs)”.

traditionally we eat this porridge to let your stomach rest after the continuous big feasts over the new year’s holiday. it’s completely vegetarian (vegan actually) with natural ingredients and the taste so soft for your stomach (just used salt to taste). it is good for digestion as well.

after a bowl, the taste gets a bit blunt, so we can put some topping over it, and this time i had raddish pickles with yuzu citrus, bonito fish flakes with soy sauce, and some mitsuba (trefoil) leaves.

ingredients (for 2 – 3 people)

1 cup of rice
7 japanese herbs – chopped (3/4 cup or so)
(which can be replaced with raddish, raddish leaves, turnip, turnip leaves, italian parsley, etc.)
4+ cups of water
salt to taste

in a big deep pot (preferably earthen pot), pour the rice and rinse it a few times with cold water. after draining, put 4 cups of water in the pot, put the lid on, and bring it to boil in medium heat. when the water starts to boil, lower the heat to the tiny heat and let it cook for 30 minutes or so until the water is almost absorbed into the rice. remember to gently stir the rice from time to time so that the rice would not stick into the bottom of the pot.

while the rice is being cooked, boil the water in another pot, sprinkle a pinch of salt and quickly boil the chopped herbs (a minute is enough).

add the chopped herb to the rice when the rice is almost ready. cook them jointly for 5 minutes or so, add 2 – 3 pinches of salt to taste.

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