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Prepare all the ingredients.
Wash the rice in a large bowl. Rice absorbs water very quickly when you start washing, so don't let the rice absorb the opaque water. Gently wash the rice in a circular motion and discard the water. Repeat this process about 3-4 times.
Let the rice soak in water for 30-60 minutes. This helps the rice absorb the seasonings later on and become more tender and moist after cooking. Transfer the rice into a sieve and drain completely for at least 15 minutes. Place the washed and drained rice in the rice cooker.
Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. Soak 3 dried shiitake mushrooms in a ½ cup of water for 15 minutes. I place a smaller bowl on top to keep the mushrooms submerged in the water at all times.
In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to boil. Put ⅓ konnyaku and cook for 1 minute to get rid of the smell. Transfer the konnyaku to a plate to cool. Add the aburaage to the same pot of water and cook for 1 minute. This removes excess oil from the aburaage. Transfer aburaage to a plate to cool. Discard the water.
Shave off the gobo skin with the back of the knife. Don’t peel the gobo with a peeler to keep the earthy flavor and fragrance. Then make a “cross” slit on tip of the gobo as you see in the picture below.
Make a lengthwise cross-shape incision about 1 ½ inch deep at one end. Shave from that end as if you were sharpening a pencil with a knife while constantly rotating with the other hand. Soak in the water to prevent from changing color.
Cut the carrot in half lengthwise and cut diagonally into thin slices. Then cut the slices into julienned or smaller pieces.
Cut the aburaage and konnyaku into thin small strips.
Cut the chicken thigh into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slanted pieces. Hold your knife at 45 degree angle and slice the chicken. This “sogigiri” cutting technique gives the chicken more surface area so it will cook faster and soak up flavors quickly.
Squeeze the liquid from dried shiitake mushrooms and save the liquid (this is called Shiitake Dashi). Remove the stem and cut the caps into thinly slices.
Strain the Shiitake Dashi into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of dirty particles. Set aside. In a measuring cup, add all the shiitake dashi and then pour dashi so you’ll have 1 ½ cup (360 ml) of liquid. Add it to the rice cooker and mix well.
Now your ingredients are ready!
Add 1 ½ Tbsp. soy sauce and 1 ½ Tbsp. mirin to the rice.
Pour the dashi & shiitake dashi mixture into the rice and mix well.
Add the chicken and evenly distribute over the rice. Do NOT mix the rice with ingredients. The rice won’t be able to absorb enough water to cook and it will end up with a hard texture. Continue from the hard ingredients to softer ingredients. Without mixing all up, start cooking the rice. If you have a “Mixed Rice” option, use it (See Notes below).
Once the rice is done cooking, use a rice paddle to stir the rice and vegetables with light slicing and tossing motions to distribute the ingredients evenly. The bottom of the rice gets slightly caramelized, and this part is called Okoge and it’s especially tasty.
Serve the rice hot or at room temperature. Sprinkle chopped mitsuba or green onion on top. You can keep the leftover rice in the freezer up to 1 month.