Rice with Mountain Vegetables is considered to be a spring rice dish because it uses mountain vegetables (edible wild plants) and bamboo shoots, which are seasonal vegetables of spring. But these days you can make it all year round. Each vegetable has a unique flavour, but when they are cooked together with rice and seasonings, a harmonious gentle flavour is created.
Mountain Vegetables are called ‘sansai’ (山菜) in Japanese, which literally translates to mountain vegetables. The Kanji character for mountain, 山 is read ‘yama’ or ‘san’. Vegetable is ‘yasai’ ( 野菜) in Japanese and it took the last character ‘sai’ (菜) to shorten the word for Mountain Vegetables.
I cooked rice together with the ingredients and seasonings. So, it is a takikomi gohan, not maze gohan. I explained the difference between the two types of mixed rice dishes in my post Mixed rice with Chicken and Burdock (Tori Meshi).
About Mountain Vegetables (Sansai)
Today’s mixed rice contains only a few different sansai. But in Japan, there are over 20 different kinds of sansai. You can find a list of vegetables on Wikipedia on Sansai here. Incidentally, mitsuba, which I sometimes use as a garnish, is also a mountain vegetable.
Sansai is meant to be a plant naturally grown in a wild environment. But in modern times, some of them are cultivated successfully, and farm-grown sansai are made available at shops. The photo below is boiled warabi (bracken shoots), which is one of the farm-grown sansai and included in today’s dish.
Most wild plants are bitter, so you need to boil them to remove the harsh taste before cooking them. Perhaps because of this some commonly available mountain vegetables are already boiled in water and sold as a pack of mixed sansai for convenience. I used a pre-boiled sansai pack today just like the majority of households in Japan do.
There are various brands of pre-boiled sansai packs, but most of them that I can get in Sydney contain only about 5 different vegetables, as you can see in my pack below.
What’s in my Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Takikomi Gohan)
You could just have a sansai pack to cook with rice. But I felt that the mountain vegetables in my pack were not enough for the rice (I like the mixed rice with lots of ingredients in it), so I added bamboo shoots. If your sansai pack contains more vegetables, you can omit bamboo shoots. I think aburaage is a must for most takikomi gohan.
- Rice, washed
- 1 sansai pack, water drained
- Thinly sliced bamboo shoots
- Thinly sliced aburaage
- Water to cook rice
I used dashi powder instead of making dashi stock for today’s takikomi gohan. Adding water to the rice with dashi powder is similar to adding dashi stock to the rice. If you prefer, you can use dashi stock.
How to make Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Takikomi Gohan)
There isn’t much chopping to do in today’s dish because the pre-cooked mountain vegetables are already cut to the right lengths and ready to use. You only need to cut the bamboo shoots and aburaage.
- Put rice and water in a pot or a rice cooker.
- Put soy sauce, mirin, and dashi powder into the pot/rice cooker. Mix well.
- Scatter the sansai, bamboo shoots, and aburaage on top of the rice.
- Cook rice just like you cook plain rice.
- Mix the rice and vegetables so that the vegetables are evenly mixed in.
Please refer to my post How To Cook Rice The Japanese Way in step 4.
Takikomi gohan freezes well in general and today’s dish is no exception. You should wrap the rice in cling wrap or put it in an airtight container/zip lock bag while the rice is still hot. Let it cool down, then freeze.
Rice with Mountain Vegetables (Sansai Takikomi Gohan) is so tasty. You can enjoy the distinct flavour of sansai and the seasoning is just right for it. It is delicious even at room temperature.
Sansai Takikomi Gohan is considered to be a spring rice dish because it uses mountain vegetables (edible wild plants) and bamboo shoots that are seasonal vegetables of spring. This is a tasty rice dish, and the unique flavour of mountain vegetables is quite addictive.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 360ml/12.2fl oz short grain rice (note 1)
- 1 pack pre-boiled sansai mix drained (note 2)
- 50g/1.8oz boiled bamboo shoot (note 3)
- 1 aburaage
- 2 cups boiling water
- 390ml/13.2fl oz water (note 4)
Wash rice until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes.
Cut the bamboo shoot horizontally, 2.5-3cm/1-1⅛" from the tip.
Halve the tip portion vertically, place the cut side down, then cut each piece vertically into 2mm/3⁄32" thick slices.
Quarter the bottom part of the bamboo shoot vertically, then cut each quarter into 2mm/3⁄32" thick slices, making fan-shaped pieces.
Pour boiling water over the aburaage to remove excess oil, then squeeze the water out.
Halve the aburaage lengthwise, then cut into 3mm/⅛" wide strips.
Drain rice and put it in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or the inner pot of a rice cooker.
If using a saucepan: Add 390ml/13.2fl oz water to the pan.
If using a rice cooker: Add water to the line marked for 2 rice cups, then remove 2½ tablespoons of water from it (note 6).
Put the Flavouring ingredients into the pot and mix well. Shake the pot gently and level the surface of the rice.
Spread sansai, bamboo shoots, and aburaage pieces over the rice. Cook the rice in the same way as Cooking Rice The Japanese Way.
When mixing the rice after it is cooked, try to mix the vegetables in evenly.
1. This is equivalent to 2 rice measuring cups. 1 rice measuring cup (the cup that comes with the Japanese rice cooker) is 180ml/6.1fl oz.
2. I bought a packet of boiled mountain vegetables at a Japanese grocery store (see the photo in the post). It contained several vegetables in water. The net weight indicated on the pack was 300g/10.1oz, but after draining the water it weighed about 150g/5.3oz.
3. I bought vacuum packed boiled bamboo shoots from a Japanese grocery store (see the sample photo in my post Rice with Bamboo Shoots (Takenoko Gohan). Asian grocery stores may not sell the same type of bamboo shoots, but they sell thin young bamboo shoots (spear shape) that are already boiled.
Do not use the canned bamboo shoot slices that you can buy at supermarkets and Asian grocery stores. They have a sour taste that does not go well with the flavour of today’s dish.
The instructions for slicing bamboo shoots are suited to the corn-shaped bamboo shoots that I used. Please adjust the method of slicing it according to the shape of your bamboo shoot.
4. This is the suggested quantity of water when you are cooking Sansai Takikomi Gohan in a saucepan. If you are using a rice cooker, you will need water filled to the level indicated for 2 rice cups as per the instructions.
5. I used instant dashi stock powder to mix into the water. But if you prefer using home-made dashi stock, you can replace dashi powder and water with 390ml of dashi stock or the quantity required for your rice cooker.
6. 2½ tablespoons of water equates to the total volume of soy sauce and mirin to be added later. In the case of cooking rice in a saucepan, 390ml of water is already taking these seasonings into account.
7. Sansai Takikomo Gohan freezes well. You should wrap rice in cling wrap or put it in an airtight container/zip lock bag while the rice is still hot. Let it cool down, then freeze. It keeps about 1 month.