This post is by Kay, who writes the K’s Kitchen section of Todd’s Wanderings. She also happens to be Todd’s lovely wife!

Japanese Seven Herbs Nanakusa Gayu Recipe

These are the Seven Herbs

This is a special and traditional dish that Japanese eat on January 7th with the wish to get rid of evil and bring health. Also, there is a connotation for resting your stomach after eating heavy and rich Osechi Meals over New Years. The porridge/congee is cooked with seven kinds of herbs: (Japanese parsley (seri); Shepherd’s purse (nazuna); Jersey Cudweed (gogyō); Common chickweed (hakobera); Henbit (hotokenoza); Turnip (suzuna); and Daikon (suzushiro).

They are seven herbs which represent spring. For your reference, there are seven leaves for autumn but they are for decoration not for cooking.

To be honest, this is not a very tasty and attractive dish as it is, but I like the significance of this custom and the idea to rest my stomach after eating a lot over new years. That being said, there is a period that I like to eat Porridge/congee, when I am sick. In the US and some countries, they tend to cook chicken soup when they are sick but Japanese tend to go for this porridge. In case you have not tried it when you are sick, this is the best dish to throw into your stomach and recover quickly when you don’t have appetite! We put these special herbs only for the Nanakusa Gayu, and normally eat the plain Porridge with some Japanese side-dishes, pickles, or plums (Umeboshi).

Ingredients (for 3-4 people)

  • How to Cook Japanese Porridge Nanakusa Gayu

    I love the green and white!

    Japanese Rice: 1 cup (Can be substituted with other sticky types of rice such as Thai). I use Macedonian rice in Kosovo which works perfectly!!

  • Water: 7 cups
  • Salt
  • 7 kinds of herbs (Seri, Nazuna, Gogyo, Hakobera, Hotokenoza, Suzuna, and Suzushiro- See the introduction paragraph for details). If you would like to make a plain porridge, you don’t need these herbs.

How to cook (cooking and preparation time: 40-50 min)

(1)  Wash rice and put in a pot with 7 Cups of water. Leave it for about 1 hour as it is.

(2)  Cook the rice in the pot for about 40min. Start the stove on medium and turn it down to low once the water starts boiling. If the water evaporates earlier than 40 min, that’s fine as long as the rice is cooked well.

(3)  Wash the herbs, cut them into small pieces, and put then in the pot. Cook for a few minutes, add salt, and leave the pot with the lid off after turning off the stove.

(4)  Serve in a bowl with some additional Japanese side-dishes /tsukemono as you like. Please see the reference below for pickles in case you would like to purchase them at the Asian Store.

Tips: The above recipe is cooking rice from scratch.  If you have some already cooked rice, you can also use it with 2-3 times more water than the amount of rice until the porridge looks like the one in the photo.

Japanese side dish to go with porridge/congee:

Tsukemono (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsukemono)

Umeboshi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umeboshi)

Tsukudani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsukudani)

Curbed Tuna (Katsuobushi) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katsuobushi) with soy sauce

How did it go? What other Japanese dishes do you like?

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11 Responses to “Nanakusa Gayu (Japanese Porridge or Congee with Seven herbs)”

  1. This looks like an interesting recipe. I guess the only way to find good food is to try lots!

    Aaron
    Aaron Schubert´s recent [type] ..Wireless Hill Picnics

  2. SatuNo Gravatar says:

    The word “porridge” totally confused me when I went to Singapore for the first time. Being from Finland, when I think of porridge I think of oatmeal. But people were eating “fish porridge” in Singapore… WHAT? Anyway, your congee looks lovely.
    Satu´s recent [type] ..India to Nepal Travel Tips

  3. Sarah WuNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for the recipe. My Japanese friend always say their congee is different then the Chinese one.

  4. DavidNo Gravatar says:

    I can’t wait to be sick to try it! (what? did I say something weird? ;-) )
    David´s recent [type] ..Otorii

  5. AnthonyNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I absolutely love Daikon through salads, I have eaten it shredded, grated, dried, and with sushi. This recipe is herb packed! Supposedly Daikon is really good as a hung over cure. So next time you get on the beers, munch on some daikon root. Maybe that is how you are resting the stomach after New Years and trying to detox the body.

  6. KellyNo Gravatar says:

    I really thought I was one of those people who just could never cook, ever. So, for years I have ignored recipes. But, tonight I’m proud to say I cooked a meal without burning anything! So, perhaps I could give this a try as well!

  7. Jozef MaxtedNo Gravatar says:

    Looks yummy! soup isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when i think about japaneese food! you learn something new everyday!
    Jozef Maxted´s recent [type] ..Departure

  8. The DropoutNo Gravatar says:

    I didn’t know Japan did a rice porridge too!
    The Vietnamese version, called chao, became my comfort food in Vietnam. Not the version with the blood jelly, though. In Singapore I’ve just found a congee stall near my house that does a pretty good version too.
    Whatever you call it, rice porridge is great when you’re sick. Thanks for sharing the recipe for this one.
    The Dropout´s recent [type] ..Surviving Singapore’s River Hongbao

  9. LaurenceNo Gravatar says:

    So that’s what congee is! I’ve been wondering since I was served it on a flight and thought it was pretty tasty (then again, i pretty much love all airline food, i’m a bit weird like that)
    Laurence´s recent [type] ..Travel blogging tips from the experts- Adventures with Ben

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