My family never had a tradition of eating "Nanakusa-gayu" 七草がゆ or "seven herb porridge" which is usually eaten on January 7th. I am not sure of its history or reasons for it but in Japan, a package of 7 herbs for this dish appears in the market when the date nears. I made this porridge after we ran out of osechi and other dishes I made for the New Year. This is a rather interesting recipe which came from Buddhist monk Nishikawa 西川和尚. This porridge contains both grated and cubes of nagaimo 長芋. I made a slight modification and added baby water cress and topped with aomori powder and the meat of pickled plum. I served it with Mackerel simmered in miso sauce サバの味噌煮, red wine simmered chicken liver 鶏レーバーの赤ワイン煮 and simmered Japanese "kabocha" squash カボチャの煮物 for one weekend lunch.
This is a rather simple recipe. Instead of using a totally vegetarian broth (i.e. kelp broth), I used a combination of kelp and bonito flakes for the broth.
Ingredients (for two small servings):
3/4 cup of cooked rice (we microwaved frozen cooked rice to thaw it )
Nagaimo, 5 inch pieces, peeled, 1/3 grated and 2/3 cut into small cubes
1 cup of Japanese broth
Baby water cress, stems removed, an arbitrary amount
Dried aomori and umeboshi pickled plum meat finely chopped for garnish
Add the cooked rice to a pan and add the broth, mix and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the grated nagaimo, mix and simmer another 2-3 minutes.
Add the cubed nagaimo, add the water cress, season with the salt and cook 1-2 more minutes (do not over cook the nagaimo cubes).
Serve hot with the garnish of the Aonori, pickled plum and fresh water cress leaves.
The simmered Japanese "kabocha" pumpkin was prepared as before.
The graded nagaimo added to the volume and, of course, added a unique texture to the porridge. The combination of grated texture with the nice crunch of the cubes of nagaimo was unique. This is very gentle soothing dish for your stomach.