(Lesser cold) 小寒 Shōkan
January 5–9 芹乃栄 Seri sunawachi sakau ( Parsley flourishes )
January 10–14 水泉動 Shimizu atataka o fukumu ( Springs thaw )
January 15–19 雉始雊 Kiji hajimete naku ( Pheasants start to call )
nana (七): seven
kusa (草): lit. grass (herb)
(o)kayu (粥): rice porridge
On the 7th of January in japan (jinjitsu) marks the end of the Oshougatsu (Japanese New Years) . This day is known as nanakusa no sekku (七草の節句), or the Festival of the Seven Weeds . It is custom to make a seven herb rice porridge Nanakusa Gayu 七草粥 to help heal the stomach after the New Year festivities. It is quite common in japan if you have an unwell stomach to eat Okayu rice porridge. The 7th of January is one of the 5 seasonal festivals the porridge is said to prevent illness for the coming year.
The herbs used in japan are waterdrop wort,shepherds purse,cudweed,chickweed,nipplewort,turnip and daikon radish.
As I live in the UK I have had to substitute the Japanese herbs for ones I could find.
I used watercress,rocket,mizuna,chive,basil and parsley a mixture of these with daikon radish.
You can a make this with kombu dashi ( just soak kombu in water over night ) and Japanese rice with a 1-5 ratio one Japanese rice cooker cup rice to five water. Simmer for around 30 mins adding more dashi if needed, then mix in your herbs and steam for 10 minutes. You could finish by garnishing with some sautéed daikon radish chopped green onion and sesame seeds.
You can cook your rice in dashi or vegetable broth and make a pesto with the herbs. Just blend a mix of the herbs with olive oil and sesame paste. Then add a spoon of pesto on top with maybe some sautéed daikon and some extra blanched herbs.
It is also nice to add a toasted Mochi rice cake if you like.
If you have left over porridge how about stirring in some creamy white miso for a delicious lunch.
However you cook it it’s a lovely filling meal.
Here’s to good health in 2020 !