Kayaku gohan – healthy vegetable rice

I started following @monkylicious while I was involved in baked relief during the Brisbane floods. The other day she tweeted about cookbook club. Now I’ve never been a part of a book club but always liked the idea. The thought of being in a cookbook club though – I’m in! I have cookbooks spewing from every corner of my house with post-it notes coming out of every one. I am Claire and I am a cookbook addict so I don’t think there’s a more suitable club for me to be a part of. You can participate in the group in person or virtually (my choice so I can cook when it suits). This round, all the recipes are from Adam Liaw’s (from Masterchef) new cookbook ‘Two Asian Kitchens.’ The recipes I chose to make were Kayaku gohan (healthy vegetable rice) and Taco rice.

Not only did I enjoy cooking both my club challenges but shopping for the ingredients was an experience in itself. I wrote out my list and headed to Chinatown to the Asian grocer. I kidded myself into thinking I’d find things on my own but after one lap of the supermarket I gave in and asked for help. The lady whizzed around the shop with me flying behind her nearly knocking shelves over with my trollie (she was super quick).

The only thing I couldn’t get was the kombu (dried kelp). The lady told me it can’t be imported into Australia anymore for some reason. This is what she gave me instead. If anyone knows anything else I can do with it please let me know as I have most of the packet sitting in my pantry.

Shiitake mushrooms soaking

Start the rice dish by soaking the dried mushrooms in boiling water. I found the king of shiitake mushrooms in the middle. He was huge, so much so that I had to discard most of it. It was one tough mushroom.

This is another thing I’m pretty sure was wrong. I asked for konnyaku jelly and this is what I got. After a little googling I think she gave me konnyaku noodles instead. I still followed the recipe and covered the konnyaku in cold water. Bring it to the boil and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Take the konnyaku jelly from the water and cut into 2cm batons. Obviously I couldn’t really do this with the noodles but I did chop them up. Slice the carrots similarly and slice up the mushrooms.

Place the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold water. Put it into a big pot and cover it with 750ml of water.

Add the mushrooms, konnyaku, carrots, tofu, soy sauce, ginger, sake, mirin and salt.

Add the kombu as well and mix it all together. Bring the pot to a simmer then remove the kombu.

Simmer the pot for 5 minutes.

Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. Remove it from the heat (don’t remove the lid) and leave it for another 5 minutes.

I made a serious mess with this step. The recipe says to turn the rice out onto a large tray or bowl and turn/chop through it to cool the rice. I’m sure it’s important but I would probably skip this step if I made it again.

Kayaku gohan – healthy fried rice

Serve the rice as a side or a healthy vegetarian main. Enjoy!


Kayaku gohan (healthy vegetable rice) - the cookbook club
Serves: 4-6 as a side dish
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 50g (2oz) konnyaku jelly
  • 1 small carrot
  • 440g (16oz)Japanese short-grain rice
  • 1 sheet of kombu (dried kelp)
  • 45g (1.60oz) deep-fried tofu, cut into strips
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • ¼ tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • sliced nori or spring onion to serve
  1. Soak the mushrooms in boiling water for about 15 minutes then chop of the stems (discard them) and slice up the caps.
  2. In a small saucepan, cover the jelly with cold water, bring it to the boil then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Let it cool out of the pot then slice it into 2cm batons. Do the same for the carrots.
  3. Place the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold water. Transfer it to a large saucepan and cover with 750ml of water.
  4. Add the tofu, carrot, jelly, mushrooms, soy sauce, sake, mirin, ginger, salt and kombu to the rice and mix it up. Bring the pot to a simmer then discard the kombu.
  5. Simmer the pot for 5 minutes then place the lid on and leave it to simmer for a further 15 minutes. When the time is up, remove the pot from the heat and leave it with the lid on for 5 minutes. DO NOT remove the lid.
  6. When the rice is cooked, turn it out onto a large tray and chop through it with a spoon to cool it.
  7. Serve as a side dish sprinkled with spring onion.