Eaten and drunk too much over the past couple of weeks? Feeling a bit lardy, lethargic and lumpy? Have a bowl of Nanakusa-gayu (seven herb porridge)…
After indulging too much over ohshogatsu (new year), a long standing tradition in Japan is to eat nanakusa-gayu on 7th January. Not only is it a simple low-calorie food after all that richness over the previous few days, but importantly it is believed to bring longevity and health, and also intended to ward off evil for the coming year.
The tricky bit if you’re not in Japan (where you can actually special packs at this time of year in the supermarket) is how to get the 7 herbs, traditionally (but with local variations):
- seri – Japanese parsley
- nazuna – Shepherd’s purse
- gogyo – Jersey Cudweed
- hakobera – Common chickweed
- hotokenoza – nipplewort
- suzuna – turnip
- suzushiro - daikon
Your best bet is to therefore replace these greens with whatever locally available green leaf vegetables you can easily get hold of, and more importantly like. So, armed with some lovely fresh greens how do you make this porridge?
Well, first things first, its not porridge in the western rolled oats sense of the world, this is an Asian rice porridge (in Japan referred to as okayu – but not much different from what you would find in China as congee or similar dishes elsewhere throughout SE Asia).
In a rice cooker its an absolute breeze to make…
…wash the rice thoroughly, then put 1 cup of rice into the rice cooker with 7 cups of water, press “Congee” and leave the rice to cook. Probably takes about 40-minutes or so and then it will have a nice porridge consistency (see top photo). At this point ,add your chopped greens and leave it on “Keep Warm” for a few minutes – but not too long as you don’t want everything to wilt too much. Add a little bit of salt and serve…how easy is that!