January 7, 2011

Nanakusa Gayu (Seven-Herb Congee, Gruel, or Porridge)/七草粥

To learn about Nanakusa no sekku, click here.
Note that as I briefly described here, hotokenoza is not henbit but another plant also known as kooni tabirako.
You can view how the "nanakusa gayu song" is sung by clicking here. I, for one, am not familiar with this song.

On January 6, I went to the supermarket to buy this pack of nanakusa.

This pack, the first of its kind in Japan according to its official website, is produced by Nanakusa Kenkyu Kai (Seven Herb Study Group), formed in 1982 in Kanawaga prefecture, which is actually a group of then seven (now three) farmers.

On the back side of the pack, you can see illustrations of the seven herbs of spring, as well as the directions for making nanakusa gayu.



From right to left: Seri, nazuna, gogyo, hakobe, hotokenoza (kooni tabirako), suzuna, suzushiro
右から左: セリ、ナズナ、ごぎょう、ハコベ、ホトケノザ、スズナ、スズシロ

The pack contains only a single sprig of each herb, except hakobe. All the sprigs you can see in the upper part of the photo are those of hakobe.
It's kind of surprising and sad...

Recipe for making nanakusa gayu (4-5 servings):
2 go (2 x 180 ml = 360 ml) uncooked rice
7 L water
1 pack nanakusa
Small amount of salt
Small amount of soy sauce

1. Quickly parboil nanakusa in boiling water with a small amount of salt (not mentioned above), and chop (while singing the nanakusa gayu song, if you like).
2. Put rice and water in a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer on low heat for 30-40 min.
3. Add salt, soy sauce, parboiled nanakusa, and mochi (optional).
Cook until nanakusa become soft.

お米 2合
水 7リットル
七草 1パック
塩 少々
しょう油 少々

1. 塩を少量(分量外)入れた熱湯で七草をさっと茹で、刻む(お好きなら、七草粥の歌を歌いながら)。
2. 鍋にお米と水を入れ、沸騰させ、弱火で30~40分煮る。
3. 塩、しょう油、七草、お餅(好みで)入れる。

Sorry, leftover nanakusa gayu:

1. I think the soy sauce in the recipe above is optional. Most recipes do not call for soy sauce.
2. Some recipes do not say to parboil nanakusa.
3. The proper rice to water ratio is 1:5-7.
I used a 1:5 ratio (1.5 go of rice and 1,000 ml water). The rice kept sticking to the bottom of the donabe, so I stopped simmering 20 minutes later. I added some more hot water later.
4. If you want to follow this custom strictly, you must make the preparations (parboiling and chopping the nanakusa) on the night of January 6, make the nanakusa gayu on the morning of January 7, and have it as breakfast. There are, however, an increasing number of people who have nanakusa gayu as part of supper.
5. Personally, I don't like nanakusa gayu.
1. 上記のレシピーのしょう油は、なくてもいいと思います。大半のレシピーではしょう油は書かれていません。
2. 七草を下茹でしないレシピーもあります。
3. お米と水の割合は1:5~7が適切です。
私は1:5の割合にしました(お米1.5合、水1,000 ml water)。お米が土鍋の底にくっつくので、20分後に煮るのを止めました。後でお湯を少し足しました。
4. この風習を厳密に行うには、1月6日の夜に準備(七草を下茹でし、刻む)をして、1月7日の朝に七草粥を作って、朝食として食べなければいけません。しかし、七草粥を夕飯に食べる人も増えています。
5. 個人的には七草粥は好きではないです。


Rose said...

Oh I have heard about this! I am excited to learn more!!!!

I thought this was typically eaten during 節分祭?

Tonight I am going to go try お屠蘇!

Hiroyuki said...

Rose: You mean Setsubun in early February (usually on Feb. 3)? We throw and eat roasted soybeans on that day.

You mean real otoso, with tososan 屠蘇散 in it? Come to think of it, I've never had authentic otoso. Drinking otoso is mainly a custom in Kansai (Western Japan), and in other parts of Japan, otoso may simply mean the sake drunk during the New Year's season.

Rose said...

Yes with 屠蘇散. A new bar has opened up near my husband's work and they specialize in importing high quality sake from Japan.

The owner's wife is Japanese and her family sent the bar the special otoso for the New Year. She must be from western Japan. ^_^

Hiroyuki said...

Rose: Good for you! But I wonder if it tastes good...
I hope that the bar offers some wonderful sake from Niigata!