Japanese – Chicken Rice (とり ごはん)

Tori Gohan 001 edited re-sized

I would like to introduce my readers to some recipes of home- style quick and easy Japanese cooking. This post is about one of them. Chicken Rice or Tori Gohan (とり ごはん) is nutritious and appetite stimulating. Its mild taste but intense flavour is suitable for both toddlers and the octogenarian. Another attractive feature of this recipe is the use of several basic ingredients which are found in most Asian homes or they can be easily purchased from local supermarkets and Asian groceries.

Hainanese Chicken Rice is as good as one of Singapore’s national dishes. Click here for my recipe. Anyone who has lived in Singapore or just visited us would have been introduced to this delectable dish. Tori Gohan (とり ごはん) is really another animal and one should not compare these 2 dishes even if they are both called “chicken rice”.

Let’s get started.

Some Comments About Ingredients

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  • Short Grain Japanese Rice. Use ordinary rice (uruchimai). Don’t use glutinous rice (mochigome). To ensure fluffy rice; always soak the rice, after washing, in water for 30 minutes and drain the rice completely (for 5 minutes).
  • Shitake Mushrooms. I prefer using dried ones and re-hydrating them in water. They are more intense in flavour than fresh shitake. Use what is at hand.
  • Winter Bamboo Shoot. These are much more tender than the ordinary bamboo shoots. In Singapore, for convenience, I buy canned winter bamboo shoots. There are several brands.
  • Cooking Sake. I would leave this out if it is not available. Chinese rice wines or medium dry sherry are not good substitutes.
  • Japanese Soy Sauce. Kikkoman brand is the most readily available internationally. Chinese soy sauce is NOT a substitute.

Preparation

Tori Gohan 004 edited re-sized

STEP 1. Request butcher to chop whole chicken into two halves and remove skin. De-bone the half chicken but keep the meaty bones to make a chicken stock. Cut boneless chicken into medium bite size pieces.

HINT: for convenience, you can easily use 300 gm of skinless and boneless chicken leg. The result will still be delicious but there is a slight sacrifice in flavour unless you use the bones to make a quick stock.

STEP 2. Place meaty chicken bones into a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Bring to boil and then lower heat to simmer for about 1 hour. Drain and ensure there is about 2.5 rice cooker cups of stock (450 ml).

STEP 3. Use a rice cooker measuring cup (One such cup is 150 gm rice, 180 ml). Measure 2.5 cups of Japanese rice. Wash rice by rubbing rice grains gently in your hands. Make 2 to 3 changes of water. Let rice soak in the water from the last rinse. Soak for 30 mins. Drain rice for about 5 mins.

HINTS: my father’s cook used the rice rinsing water to water the plants. A gentle fertilizer. If you are cooking rice over the stove or using a very basic rice cooker don’t skip the soaking step to ensure plump rice grains.

STEP 4. Rinse and re-hydrate the shitake mushrooms. One they have fully softened, cut them into cubes.

STEP 5. Take one piece of Winter bamboo shoot from the can. Cut into small bite size pieces.

STEP 6. Peel some skin away from the fresh ginger root, grate 1 tsp of ginger.

Tori Gohan 003 edited re-sized

STEP 7. Prepare the seasoning ingredients and season boneless chicken pieces. Mix well and set aside for about 30 mins.

Cooking

Into a medium size electric rice cooker, add ingredients in this order

  1. soaked and drained rice,
  2. stock,
  3. seasoned chicken,
  4. bamboo shoot,
  5. shitake mushrooms and
  6. peas

Press start to cook. Serve once rice is cooked.

RECIPE

Source: Adapted from Japanese Cuisine For Everyone by Yukiko Moriyama 

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2.5 rice cups Japanese rice
  • Half of 1.3 to 1.4 kg chicken, skinned and de-boned (keep for stock)
  • 2 large dried shitake mushrooms, rinsed and re-hydrated
  • 1 section winter bamboo shoot taken from a can, cut into small sections
  • 1/3 cup frozen tender peas
3 cups of water or 2.5 cups chicken broth made from the bones of the half chicken combined with 0.5 cups of shitake soaking liquid
Seasoning (the chicken pieces for 30 mins)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp kikkoman sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sake
  • 1 tsp sugar

Method – Preparation

1. Request butcher to chop whole chicken into two halves. Remove skin. De-bone the half chicken but keep the meaty bones to make a chicken stock. Cut boneless chicken into medium bite size pieces.

2. Place meaty chicken bones into a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Bring to boil and then lower heat to simmer for about 1 hour. Drain and ensure there is about 2.5 cups of stock.

3.  Use a rice cooker measuring cup (One such cup is 150 gm rice, 180 ml). Measure 2.5 cups of Japanese rice. Wash rice by rubbing rice grains gently in your hands. Make 2 to 3 changes of water. Let rice soak in the water from the last rinse. Soak for 30 mins. Drain rice for about 5 mins.

4. Rinse and re-hydrate the shitake mushrooms. One they have fully softened, cut them into cubes.

5. Take one piece of Winter bamboo shoot from the can. Cut into small bite size pieces.

6. Peel some skin away from the fresh ginger root, grate 1 tsp of ginger.

7. Prepare the seasoning ingredients and season boneless chicken pieces. Mix well and set aside for about 30 mins.

Method – Cooking using an electric rice cooker.

Into a medium size electric rice cooker, add ingredients in this order

  1. soaked and drained rice,
  2. stock,
  3. seasoned chicken,
  4. bamboo shoot,
  5. shitake mushrooms and
  6. peas

Press start to cook. Serve once rice is cooked.

Serving Suggestions

This dish is a One Dish Meal but you might want to include a  soup. I have a post entitled “Miso Soup and Brown Rice”. Click here.

Consider any one or more of the recipes listed below for a more complex Japanese meal. Purchase a plate of sashimi and/or sushi to accompany your servings. This  will impress both family and guests alike.

1. Chawan Mushi (Steamed Egg custard)  Click here.

2. Tofu no Shira-ae. Click here.

3. Simmered Pumpkin. Click here.

4. Yawata Maki. Click here.

5. Japanese Potato Salad. Click here.

6. Pari Pari style Chicken Wings. Click here.

7. Caramel Custard  Click here.

8. Almond Jelly and Longans. Click here.

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