Kayaku-meshi (かやく飯) is a common rice dish from Osaka Prefecture (Kansai Region).
It is also called kayaku-gohan (かやくご飯). It is a very simple dish consisting of rice mixed and cooked together with various other ingredients. It is basically the Osaka version of takikomi gohan or gomoku gohan.
It is listed as one of Japan’s “Five Great Rice Dishes“, or “Five Great Meals” (日本五大銘飯).
“Kayaku” (かやく) simply refers to any ingredients added to rice or noodles. The term was originally used in Chinese medicine to refer to the addition ingredients used to enhance the medicine’s effects (written as 加薬 in kanji). “Meshi” (飯) simply means rice, or meal in Japanese.
“Kayaku” also means gunpowder in Japanese (although the kanji is different 火薬）. It makes for a much cooler English translation though — “Gunpowder Rice”. 😂
Read on for more interesting info about kayaku meshi:
The main ingredients of kayaku meshi are:
There are no limits to what ingredients can be used to make kayaku meshi. Some classic ingredients used are carrots, chicken, mushrooms, tofu, konjac, and burdock root.
Typical seasoning include soy sauce, mirin, and dashi.
Kayaku-meshi is found in Osaka, and other parts of Kansai region in Japan. It is a popular home cooked meal, and can also be bought in shops or restaurants.
The most famous restaurant to eat Kayaku Gohan is called Daikoku, and is located in Namba area of Osaka (Google Map).
Outside of Kansai, this dish is better known as takikomi gohan (炊き込み御飯).
History / Origin of Kayaku-Meshi
Kayaku meshi (and takikomi gohan) originated in the Nara period (710 to 794). It was created as a method to save rice when a harvest was less than expected.
Originally, millet and other grains/root vegetables were added. Later on, other vegetables and ingredients were used, and it became a popular dish during the Muromachi Period (1336 to 1573).
The dish is known as takikomi gohan (炊き込みご飯) in most parts of Japan, but in Osaka it is called kayaku meshi. Here’s why:
Why is it called “kayaku” in Osaka?
In Osaka, there were many Chinese medicine shops. The term “kayaku” (加薬）refers to additional ingredients added to a medicine to enhance the effectiveness of a treatment.
After some time, the term also began to be used to refer to condiments and seasonings added to food dishes. Eventually, all finely cut ingredients added to dishes were called “kayaku“.
Kayaku-meshi became popular in Osaka because:
- It is delicious to eat even if the dish is cold
- It has a lot of ingredients in one dish, so you can eat it without any side dishes.
- You can make it using leftover vegetables, reducing wasted food.
In 1939, kayaku meshi was chosen as one of Japan’s five great meals / rice dishes (日本五大銘飯).
Have you ever tried kayaku-meshi in Osaka before? What did you think of it?
Leave your thoughts and comments below!