homecooking: Tako Meshi (Octopus Rice) タコ飯
Tako-meshi is a quick and tasty rice dish that combines octopus and rice with the flavors of ginger and shiso.
If you have always wanted to try an octopus dish, but couldn’t quite muster the courage for raw, fermented, etc this might be just the dish to try!
Tako (蛸) means octopus and meshi (飯) means rice. Tako-meshi is particularly popular in the regions bordering the Inland Sea (Seto Naikai).
Tako-meshi belongs to the genre of rice dishes, called takikomi-gohan that combine rice with other ingredients and are cooked together. Here, boiled octopus is cooked with finely chopped ginger and dried kombu, the dish is flavored with sake, mirin and shoyu.
The other main rice genres in Japan are the following.
takikomi-gohan: rice cooked with other ingredients
yaki-meshi: rice fried with various ingredients
maze-gohan: rice mixed with other ingredients after cooking
nigiri-meshi: the popular riceball (onigiri, omusubi), rice flavored with something usually salty or sour and wrapped in nori.
su-meshi: rice with sweetened vinegar, used for sushi
Maze-gohan differs from takikomi-gohan in that the ingredients are stirred into the rice just after it has finished cooking and usually just a few minutes before serving. Maze means ‘to stir’ and takikomi means ‘to simmer in’.
Tako-meshi is a quick and easy dish to prepare, it is healthy and tasty. The octopus turns the rice quite red in color, adding to the dish’s uniqueness. Also, the ingredients ought to be easily obtained outside of Japan. Octopus does not need to be fresh, and squid or calamari could be substituted, though that would be a different dish, called ika-meshi.
- octopus (legs, boiled and chopped)
- rice (1 1/2 cups short grain white rice for serving of two)
- dried kombu
- sake (3-4 tablespoons)
- mirin (2-3 tablespoons)
- shoyu (2-3 tablespoons)
- salt (to taste)
- water (fresh, tasty water for cooking the rice)
- fresh shiso leaf for garish
For the wet ingredients, adjust amounts according to your taste. Sake, cooking sake or white cooking wine can be used.
Preparation: Cube the octopus, the pieces should be about the size of a sugar cube. The ginger should be finely chopped as the cooking time is relatively short. It can be slivered or chopped into tiny cubes as I have done here. I think the orthodox way in Japan is slivered.
Combine all the ingredients as in the photo below and add the appropriate amount of water and cook. Here we used an electric rice cooker, but a gohan-nabe or other pot that can be tightly covered is fine too.
After the rice is done, let sit for 10 minutes, then uncover and stir gently with a rice paddle.
Serve: Serve and enjoy! We highly recommend the shiso leaf garnish.
Yude-dako (Boiled Octopus)
Final Step: Adding the Sake, Mirin and Shoyu and Mixture
Stir with a rice paddle to even out the mixture. Notice the rice on the bottom is slightly sticky and burned due to the sake, mirin and shoyu.
Tako Meshi Garnished with Shiso Leaf
Paku added some finely chopped, fresh shiso leaves for garnish. Excellent!