Nanakusa-Gayu (Seven-Herb Rice Soup)
Makes 6 servings
4 cups water
4-inch piece dried kombu (kelp)
1 1/2 cups steamed Japanese rice
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 pieces mochi
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup herbs, rinsed and minced
1. Make the kombu dashi: The best way to make this stock is to soak the kombu in the water overnight, covered, in the refrigerator, then discard the kombu and use the stock. Quick method: Allow the kombu to soak in the water in a saucepan for 30 minutes. Then place the saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as bubbles start to appear, remove the kombu from the water and remove the saucepan from the heat. Do not let the liquid come to a boil, as the kombu will then give the stock a bitter flavor.
2. Add the rice to the dashi and cook over low heat, stirring to break up any clumps of rice.
2. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains of rice swell and begin to lose their shape. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the mochi, and then the boiling water and stir.
3. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally to prevent the soup from sticking to the pot. When the mochi has softened and has begun to lose its shape, add the herbs. Stir and cook for an additional minute, then remove from the heat and serve immediately.