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Gohan: The Japanese Steamed Rice

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“Gohan” means cooked rice (kome) in Japanese and can be served as part of a main course or as a side dish, and it is typically topped with fish, vegetables, or other protein-rich foods.

What is gohan

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Is Gohan food or rice?

Because cooked rice is so prevalent in Japanese meals, gohan also means meal, but only refers to a meal served with cooked rice. Rice itself is called kome, but the Japanese name for cooked rice is gohan.

What is gohan food made of?

Gohan food is a rice dish. As gohan means cooked rice, the dish should have at least rice as a base. Then other ingredients are added like the delicious cooked vegetables in takikomi gohan.

Japanese ways of cooking rice

There are two ways you can cook Japanese rice: takiboshi and yutori.

Takiboshi is the method of cooking rice in boiling water until it is tender and then draining it. This results in firmer, drier grains of rice. The rice is often also steamed for a few minutes after it has been drained.

I find the takiboshi method to be more similar to the way we cook our rice in a pot, in a lot of water and then draining it.

Yutori is the method of cooking rice in a little less water that’s boiled completely dry so that the grains are softer and stickier, also leading to “sticky rice”.

This is often how you would could rice in a rice cooker.

The yutori method is often used to make sumeshi or sushi rice, cooked sticky rice with vinegar and sugar.

What is hiya-gohan?

Hiya-gohan means “cold rice” in Japanese and is rice that has been refrigerated or cooled down to be eaten cold.

It is often served as part of a bento lunch box or as an accompaniment to a main dish.

Hiya-gohan can also be used to make onigiri, which are rice balls that are often filled with a piece of meat or fish and wrapped in seaweed.

Some of the most popular gohan dishes include:

  • Donburi: a rice bowl dish that is typically topped with meat or fish and vegetables
  • Omurice: omelette rice, a dish made with rice and an omelette on top
  • Takikomi gohan: rice that is cooked with vegetables and other ingredients
  • Yaki gohan: grilled or stir-fried rice


So, there you have it! Now you know all about gohan rice and how it is eaten in Japan!”

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.