Takikomi Gohan (flavored rice)
There are many ways to mix ingredients into rice. Two of the most common forms are Takikomi-gohan, where the ingredients are cooked in the rice, and Maze-gohan, where the ingredients are added after the rice is cooked. This traditional recipe can be used with either plain rice or sticky (often labeled sweet, or mochi) rice.
Cut the konnyaku into strips, and simmer in the dashi, adding the soy sauce, mirin, salt, sugar, and sake. Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, until the strips are nicely flavored. Konnyaku has very little flavoring on its own, so it takes on the flavor of the simmering liquid. Taste a piece; it should be strongly flavored so that it retains its flavor while cooking.
Soak the shiitake mushrooms for at least 30 monutes. Drain, reserving the liquid (but discard the last bit of liquid at the bottom, as it can contain debris, or little bits of mushroom.) Cut into 1/4” strips.
Simmer the shiitake strips in the simmering liquid from the konnyaku, adding some or all of the reserved soaking liquid from the shiitake. I am often asked why the shiitake and konnyaku are not cooked together. The reason is to try to retain as much of the separate unique flavors as possible. Drain the shiitake and let the liquid cool to room temperature.
Cut the lengthwise carrot into thin sheets. Cut the sheets into 1/2” by 1/8” pieces. Cut the snow peas diagonally into thirds.
Wash and measure the rice. Add the cooled liquid. Add water until the desired amount is reached. Add the ingredients, and cook in the same way as plain rice.
You can add sautéed diced chicken to this dish, making it a full meal. The variations are endless and can feature seasonal vegetables such as bamboo shoots in the spring, and chestnuts in the fall.