Nanakusa Gayu (seven herb rice porridge) is traditionally enjoyed on January 7 as a way to soothe the body and calm the stomach after indulgent New Year’s celebrations. Light and easy to digest, nanakusa gayu is a great way to reset after the festive season. It is believed that eating it will bring good health and ward away evil.
Nanakusa Gayu is a type of okayu, or rice porridge, characterized by its use of seven spring herbs. While pre-made packages of fresh herbs specifically for nanakusa gayu can be found within Japan, it is much easier to locate “Seven Dried Herbs” mixes in other places around the world. Try looking for these packages of freeze-dried herbs at your local Japanese grocery store.
Traditionally, the seven herbs used are Java water dropwort, shepherd's purse, Jersey cudweed, common chickweed, Japanese nipplewort, turnip, and daikon, all of which are considered auspicious due to their ability to grow even during the winter season. The bright green color of the herbs represents new life as the new year begins. If you are unable to find “Seven Dried Herbs” mix, you can create your own mix of fresh herbs using ingredients that are more common in your area. Some suggestions include cilantro, basil, chives, fennel, green onion, mint, and watercress. Just be sure that no one herb overpowers the rest.
To make nanakusa gayu, simply simmer together cooked rice, water, the herb mix, soy sauce, dashi, and salt until the soup thickens. Set yourself up for a healthy and lucky new year by enjoying this comforting rice porridge!
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 300ml water
- 1 package Seven Dried Herbs Mix
- 1 tsp soy sauce*
- ½-1 tsp soda bushi dashi powder*
- Dash of salt
- In a pot, add the water and cooked rice, and bring to a simmer. This makes a rice porridge known asokayu.
- When the rice becomes sticky, add the seven herbs mix, soy sauce, dashi, and salt.
- Stir to combine and enjoy hot.
*Available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package
Introduction courtesy of Britney Budiman
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.