Takikomi gohan is a dish that cooks rice together with ingredients such as vegetables, meat, and seafood. Normally, the rice will be seasoned by putting kelp, broth, or soy sauce in the water soaking the rice before it is cooked. By cooking the ingredients together with rice, the rice absorbs the flavor of the ingredients, and gives a savory taste.
Takikomi gohan has been popular since the Edo period (1603-1867), when people start to add ingredients such as takenoko bamboo shoot and daikon Japanese radish. The first purpose of putting various ingredients in rice was to use less rice.
The cooking method of takikomi gohan is wide spread in Japan, and there are local takikomi gohan. Taimeshi meaning sea bream rice, is a traditional dish from Tokushima prefecture, and it use whole sea bream which the bones are removed, with burdock root and carrot, cooked with say sauce and sake.
In autumn, when seasonal vegetables are harvested, takikomi gohan is often made, and people enjoy the seasonal taste. For example, kuri gohan, matsutake gohan, and satsumaimo gohan are typical autumn dishes.
Kuri gohan use whole chestnuts which the skin is peeled off, and salt is added to enhance the sweetness of the chestnut. Matsutake gohan use sliced matsutake mushrooms, and kelp broth, soy sauce, salt, and sake is often added. Satsumaimo gohan use sweet potato which are cut into small pieces.
Kamameshi is a well known takikomi gohan, which uses “kama,” meaning kettle to cook rice. The dish is cooked in a kettle which only holds the portion for one person, and use seasoning such as cooking rice wine, and soy sauce, and ingredients such as shiitake mushrooms and chicken. Kamameshi is a popular “ekiben” which are lunch boxes sold at stations, although kamameshi comes in a small porcelain kettle.