As many of our readers are undoubtedly aware, white rice is an essential part of the Japanese diet, a food that we Japanese treat with reverence. It so happens that we also enjoy various flavored rice dishes known as takikomi gohan, in which rice is cooked with different ingredients to give it a distinct taste. Some of the  common takikomi gohan flavors that we like to have include kuri gohan made with chestnut and  matsutake gohan made with matsutake mushrooms. But a particularly unique kind of flavored rice causing a buzz on the Japanese Internet has come to our attention recently, and as unconventional and unexpected as it sounded, we decided we had to cook and try it for ourselves. The ingredient used in this unusual flavored rice?  It’s something you would ordinarily never associate with rice: coffee!

It apparently all started with rumors of a very special taxi in Tokyo operated by a driver who keeps the taxi stocked with loads of snacks and drinks that he gives out to passengers, although details of the driver remain unknown. Sounds almost like an urban legend, right? Well, the story ended up attracting a large amount of attention online back in January this year when Japanese comedian Akira Kawashima tweeted about his experience riding the mysterious taxi with the generous driver.

According to Kawashima’s tweets, yes he was given snacks by the driver, but he was singularly impressed with how good the canned coffee he also received was. What’s more, the driver told him that rice cooked in that coffee tastes even better! Kawashima decided to try this himself and shared the result again on Twitter.

According to his tweet, all you have to do is cook rice as you normally would but in coffee, then sprinkle sesame and salt on top. He though it tasted absolutely yummy, with a pleasant savory smell like that of roasted green tea (hoji-cha) and a slightly bitter yet refreshing aftertaste.

Well, after these tweets made the rounds on the Internet, it wasn’t surprising that a writer with the IT Media site Netolabo tried making this “coffee rice”.  Now, Kawashima had shared in another one of his tweets that the taxi driver said that cooking the rice in just any coffee drink wouldn’t do; you needed to use that particular brand of canned coffee to achieve the best results. Unfortunately, the “Caffé Greco Espresso Black without sugar” which the driver had referred to and given to Kawashima, was no longer available and the writer at Netolabo had to make do with the best substitute coffee available. In the end, the writer found a type of canned coffee, “Black Boss without sugar“, which seemed to have very similar properties and after cooking the rice in it, came to the conclusion that it was probably an 80% accurate recreation of the original coffee rice introduced in the tweets.

All right, now we wanted to try our hand at cooking this legendary coffee rice too!

▼ We procured the substitute coffee following the excellent example of the writer at Netolabo.


▼ We also needed rice, of course. For those of you familiar with the Japanese measurement of rice, we decided to cook one and a half  (roughly the equivalent of 225 grams, or 8 ounces) of rice.


▼ Okay, now we had all the ingredients we needed. Let’s cook some coffee rice!


▼ We washed the rice …


▼ … and set it in the cooker.


▼ Now it was time to add the coffee!


▼ We used the same amount of coffee as we would use water to cook the rice.


▼ We set the rice cooker to cook, and then we waited.


▼ And we waited a little more. Just 15 more minutes!


▼ The rice was finally cooked. We couldn’t wait to see how it had turned out!


▼ The strong scent of coffee hit us as soon as we opened the cooker.


▼ We were pleased to see that the rice was cooked a nice brown color.


▼ The rice was slightly sticky in consistency when we mixed it.


▼ The color of the rice looked quite appetizing.


▼ We decided to have the rice with some miso soup containing shiitake mushrooms, onions and eggs.


▼ And since the recipe called for having the rice with sesame and salt, we used this mixed sesame and salt seasoning (kurogoma shio).


▼ We sprinkled the sesame and salt combination onto the rice.


▼ The seasoning was seriously stirring our appetite.


▼ Now we were ready for our simple breakfast!


So, what did we think of the coffee rice? There was no strong taste of coffee, and while we wouldn’t describe the rice as earth-shatteringly delicious, the scent was spicy and pleasant. The sesame and salt also helped to enhance the flavor greatly and left our taste buds contented enough. In fact, we might say that the seasoning, especially the salt, made all the difference. Plus, the rice went very well with the miso soup, and for such a simple meal, it really was satisfying, making us feel like we had had a much heartier breakfast.

It may not have been exactly the same as the coffee rice tweeted about by Kawashima, and it was certainly not anything fancy, but we did enjoy the meal, and we thought the rice could be especially nice when you want to rest your stomach the morning after a particularly rich dinner. If the scent of coffee makes you happy, coffee rice may be worth a try!

Reference: ITmedia (Japanese)
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