Tokyo Five Grain Recipe

A colorful grain blend inspired by a recent trip to Japan. It features equal parts brown rice, red rice, and millet, plus some quinoa and amaranth.

Tokyo Five Grain

Many of the natural food cafes I enjoyed while in Tokyo stocked a small number of products available for purchase - honeys, dried beans, t-shirts, and little books full of cafe recipes. Almost all of them sold small packets of mixed grains. Some of the packets were barely the size of my palm, filled with miniscule amaranth grains, brown rice, and millet. Others packets were bigger featuring a various blends of whole grain rices, quinoa, and different beans. I've never seen anything quite like it available here at home, and I was excited to come back and play around with some new grain combinations. This particular blend was inspired by one packet I brought home. There's nothing inherently Japanese about the end result, aside from the origin of inspiration. It features equal parts brown rice, red rice, and millet, plus some quinoa and amaranth.

Five Grain Recipe

I've been enjoying it on its own, with a drizzle of soy sauce, and a couple drops of toasted sesame oil, but I could imagine this particular blend being great stir-fried with eggs and greens. Or fashioned into some sort of take on arancini by forming the cooked grains into balls, then dredging in egg-wash and breadcrumbs before pan-frying or baking. It could be a great stuffing for oven-roasted tomatoes, I could go on and on. Just keep in mind that the quinoa lends a dominant grassy note - and start thinking about ideas with that in mind.

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Tokyo Five Grain Recipe

I don't rinse the amaranth along with the other grains because the grains are SO tiny they run right through my relatively fine-gauge strainer. So I stir them in later. Short grain brown rice will give you a stickier rice blend in the end, use medium if you prefer more separation. The photo up above features short grain.

1 cup short or medium grain brown rice
1 cup red Bhutanese rice
1 cup millet
1/3 cup quinoa
1/4 cup amaranth
2 teaspoons salt

Rinse the rices, millet, and quinoa. Drain and put in a large thick-bottomed pot. Stir in the salt and amaranth. Cover with water up to your knuckle - about two inches above the grains. Bring to a boil, then turn down the flame as low as it will go. Cook uncovered (simmering) until all water is gone, about 45 minutes.

If you overshot the amount of water you added and your grains cook before the water absorbs entirely, strain off any extra water.

This makes a big pot of mixed grains. Plenty for multiple meals.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I successfully made this mixtue in my rice cooker in place of my weekly batch of quinoa. The complex flavor is amazing. I used the mixture in an "adaptation" of your Mushroom Casserole: I sauteed garlic, onion, leek, mushrooms, thyme, grain mixture. I mixed egg, Greek yogurt, parmesan cheese then added in sauteed mixture. I had 3 portobello caps rubbed w/ olive oil. I put some Taleggio cheese in the caps, added the grain saute and topped with a bit more taleggio. Baked in the oven. The stuffed caps were so good and the cheese added a subtle creaminess. Thank you!


Oh no, I cooked my grainy blend too long!!! But dont worry! I also used hodge podge and Moroccan spicy red pepper paste fresh from the crisper to jazz it up!!!


This new grain combination just changed my whole perspective on life! I love the combination of FIVE different amazing flavors. I imagine a flavour parade in my mouth. Can't wait to try this and share with my friends and family!!


Heidi, I just loved this recipe. I swapped long grain wild rice for the red rice. We ate it with peanut sauce the first night. And tonight we doctored it up as fried rice with the hodge podge of veggies in the crisper and some tofu. Wonderful ideas as always. (Also recently tried the ricotta zucchini cheesecake - loved it). Your sites is one of my favorite places on the web.


Trader Joe's sells something called "Harvest Blend" (or something similar) that is a mixture of Israeli couscous, quinoa, millet, lentils and possibly some other things. I usually just toss it in the rice cooker and then mix it with stir-fried vegetables and some Harissa (a Moroccan spicy red pepper paste). This will serve for supper and usually several lunches in the days following.


I was looking in the local Asian grocery for a prepackaged versions of this recipe. Thanks much.


I made this last night and it was a nice mix of grains. But it didn't take all 40 minutes to cook and I will leave out the salt next time. I mixed it with cooked kale and onions for a nice side to broiled salmon. Thanks for sharing! Glad you liked it Rhoda, and thanks for the feedback.


for a recent dinner party, i made a version of this recipe with just three grains- quinoa, med. grain brown rice, & wild rice. i cooked each grain separately and let them cool to fluff them– tossed them all together in a mixing bowl with some olive oil, dill, salt & pepper. then i put the seasoned grains into a covered casserole dish, & baked it at 350 to heat it through. i served a bed of the grains topped with a ruby trout fillet & red bell pepper coulis– everyone commented on the grains because it's not the usual rice, pasta, or potato & the different colored grains made a pretty plate.

patty marguet

for a recent dinner party, i made a version of this recipe with just three grains- quinoa, med. grain brown rice, & wild rice. i cooked each grain separately and let them cool to fluff them– tossed them all together in a mixing bowl with some olive oil, dill, salt & pepper. then i put the seasoned grains into a covered casserole dish, & baked it at 350 to heat it through. i served a bed of the grains topped with a ruby trout fillet & red bell pepper coulis– everyone commented on the grains because it's not the usual rice, pasta, or potato & the different colored grains made for a pretty plate.

patty marguet

this is my breakfast staple! i just pour a bit of each into my measuring cup, loving the layered colors, put it on to simmer and its ready by the time im out of the shower- i dont use as much quinoa or amaranth, and i put a thin layer of flax seed in as well. we usually eat it with some dried fruit/nuts, whatever is on hand and cinnamon and rice milk with a drizzle of organic maple syrup or a few drops of liquid stevia. delish, and we never seem to get tired of it! have you discovered hemp hearts? they have such a nice nutty flavour, and are a perfect protein. (very nice on yogurt and fruit in the morning).


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This was indeed a very tantalizing mix. I have mixed grains before and made rice pudding, stuffing, pilafs and salads. I will try your mix, since I especially liked the pic of the end result. Heidi you are fab at what you do. Keep em coming!!


The healthy mixed grain rice is available inexpensively in Thailand. Well, I guess because we are the world's biggest rice exporter! We have better mix than this Japanese version. If anybody is dropping by in Thailand, ask your Thai friend to bring you to one of H.M. the King's supermarkets, Golden Place, or the Princess's shop, Puufa, and get the "First Bloom 6." It is 6 types of GABA rice (unbleached rice with wheat germ intact) from the King's project. It can be cooked in a rice cooker. One pack of 97 Baht (a little more than 2 dollars) lasts almost 2 weeks for one person. I don't know if they export this First Bloom 6 (Raek Pli 6 in Thai) yet. But you can always ask the premium Asian grocery near you.


Next time you come to Japan head to the supermarket. You can get 16 and 18 grain mixes. They are divine.


Oh my gosh, i have all those grains in my cabinet. I have been wondering what to do with the millet and amaranth. Now I know. This will strech my red rice and the rest of the brown I have. What a great idea!! Thanks


If you want a short cut and have a "Trader Joe's" near you, they sell a 5 grain blend in a bag which includes I think 4 of these mixed with isreali couscous, it is delicious -I use it with a recipe on Food network from Bobby Flay, called something like Isreali Couscous with grilled vegetables.


Wow! This is exactly what i eat daily!


Sounds very interesting and nutritious. I wonder how it would turn with a bit of butter, honey, cocoa powder, strawberries and bananas. What an interesting breakfast idea. You have such an amazing talent for cooking. Thanks!

Tyro @ easycomfortfoods

I love what you do with grains. I can't wait to try this combination.


In Japan they sell mixes of alternate grains to mix in with white rice. It is called zakkokumai. It comes in fairly small packages similar to your description. Here is a link to more information on it, and cooking instructions.


Quinoa needs rinsing -- Not sure how it arrives where you buy it but it rinses "soapy" at first, bitter and unpalatable. The Peruvians didn't bother to tell the Spaniards this fact and instead of nourshment they all got sick cooking it. Good joke. Wikipedia says in NAmer it arrives pre-rinsed. - Bill in Chile


Hooray! It looks delicious. And it's gluten-free, which always gets me excited. Thanks!


Similar mixed grain combinations can also be found at Korean markets--Iusually put half mixed grains and half sushi rice in my rice cooker to soak during the day, and in the evening, I simply plug it in and it's ready in about 20 minutes!


Wow, how interesting. Obviously, I live under a rock, so I need to crawl out and try some of these new grains. Thanks!


Because I live in Wyoming, we don't have access to a variety of natural foods, so I order from - it is my favorite website for natural foods - many of those that Heidi includes in her divine recipes. Pam Sinclair, Cookbook Author "A Taste of Wyoming"


So excited about this idea - I just hope I can find all of those ingredients here in "flyover." I think my son will eat it for breakfast with me if I add some honey, cinnamon and raisins, and I'm thinking about doing a pilaf kind of thing with almonds and currants and spices. Meera's recipe is a huge bonus, too. :) HS: Sounds good Annie.


Thank you for this receipt.We use also that kind of mixtures and eat with delicious Turkish Yogurt..

cumhur ersoy

Thank you for this receipt.We use also that kind of mixtures and eat with delicious Turkish Yogurt..

cumhur ersoy

You can get these mixed grain combos at many Japanese groceries. I have not seen any with the rice already in, but I have a mixed-5-grain in my pantry now that I bought at Tokyo Fish Market. It just gets added to the rice when cooking.


Thanks Megan! I love quinoa. I am interested to know the other nutritional benefits and uses of particular grains. Does anyone know of a decent reference source (book or website) that describes these? Preferably with pictures, since, being in a non-english speaking country, it is challenging to find specific varieties.


I've been kind of obsessively cooking grains together...using brown and wild rice, barley (which has a great texture), and millet, which seems to bind it all together. I've had really good luck toasting the grains in oil before adding the water, too. I've been thinking about adding bulgur wheat to the mix, but I wasn't sure if it would overcook...I wonder if it would be weird to stir it in midway through the cooking? HS: Hi Cara, I think you could try adding faster cooking grains later on.

Cara @ Big Girls, Small Kitchen

I live in meat & potato country where it is difficult to find a variety of grains. I was ecstatic when I found quinoa! I would sincerely appreciate any web sites that sell grains at a reasonable price. Thanks ^..^ `

Bussy's Mom

Nice! My mum used to make a sweet porridge with something similar when I was little. Loved it :-). Thnx for sharing this recipe!


My younger sister recently was diagnosed with Celiac's and I've been pointing her in the direction of this website to find more tasty gluten free options (the prefab stuff in the large chain grocery store in her tiny college town lack something in the way of deliciousness) and this looks fantastic! I think the arancini idea sounds wonderful (best of Italy's fast food, really) and it would be delicious as a stuffed pepper filling, as well! Also, Rachel - that's quinoa. It's a South American grain that has cute little spiral germ that pops off the main grain during cooking. Really yummy. High protein.


Ahh, what is the yellow grain on the bottom right in your picture? I am living in China and have been experimenting with grains in my morning porridge (or zhou), especially one that looks like the yellow one in your picture, but I don't know the english name for this. Thank you also for this great looking recipe, can't wait to try it!


This looks devine...great idea! Thank you


On second thoughts, do not use black glutinous rice, it changes the color quite drastically...


try this, it is a take off on something similar we do with left over rice in the south of india. 1. take 1 cup of above COOKED mix. (if you want to plan this recipe, add glutinous black rice or regular rice too and a tablespoon of gram dal if you have that lying around and then cook them all) 2. add 3 tbs of overcooked regular rice 3. add: one and a half tsp of grated ginger two green chillies minced two tablespoons of lemon juice squeezed fresh 1/2 tsp of sugar (everytime lemon, then 1/2 tsp sugar is necessary to remove the edge but enhance the lemoni-ness) a generous fistful of chopped cilantro 4. never forget the salt! 3/4 tsp 5. mix all this, and bind together (since you have regular overcooked rice in there and the lemon juice will provide the moisture for binding.) 6. Grip them into balls, place in a steamer and steam (naturally!) -- 12 minutes after the water starts to boil. Caveat: i have not tried this with the Tokyo blend, but can see it will work just as well.


Your beautiful photo of the raw blend rang my bell So much, I went right out and got some amaranth.... it was the only grain I didn't have at home already :)


I LOVE that this recipe combines five of the most healthy grains on the planet - I tried this for breakfast topped with a smidgen of honey, sliced banana, and soymilk - a fantabulous way to start a cold winter-spring day here in Wyoming! Pam Sinclair, Cookbook Author "A Taste of Wyoming" HS: Sounds great Pam!


So healthy, and I bet it's delicious with just about anything you serve it with from roast chicken to a salad filled with vegetables and a light vinaigrette. Thank you!


I have to say that I love your blog... I used a similar mixture of grains in bread using less liquid and it turned out wonderful...yummy and nutty with great texture


Love this recipe! Very unique!

Treehouse Chef

I love to mix rice and grains, too. I believe in complex carbs! I usually do brown, jasmine, light quinoa & dark quinoa. Now, I am excited about adding red rice. I recommend mixing brown rice and grains with white rice to people who are trying to ween themselves off of white rice. Each time, they can use less white rice in the mixture. By the way, a Peruvian friend taught me about another kind of red rice. If you boil beets, you can cook the rice in the the water used. You get to keep the nutrition (sodium, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, copper and vitamin A, B1, B2, C and bioflavonoids) of the beets and add color to your meal. It's really pretty.


I, too, have been enjoying a weekly pot of "Granny's grains" for months now. I just had this week's combo --red quinoa, black rice, millet, purple prairie barley and amaranth -- for lunch, mixed with a saute of garam masala caramelized onions ( copy catting your tofu scramble onions) together with some kale, chard and raisins. Delicious.


I cooked similar food a while ago: mixing millet+quinoa+farro or sometimes 3/4 different kind of rice with cereals with roasted vegetables, and when I had left over, I made polpette the day after :)


thanks, I just purchased some red Bhutanese rice, this will be on our dinner table.


I just stumbled on your site last week and absolute love it! Your recipes are inspiring with all the ingredients that I love to use. Your photographs are absolutely amazing ... so mesmerizing. You have a wonderful eye....a truly gifted artist. :) I'm so happy to have found this site and have shared it w/ friends already. I checked out your cookbook from the library and am thrilled to have a new vegetarian book to love and enjoy! Thank you, Heidi! HS: Thanks for the kind words Michelle, glad to hear you are enjoying the site/book.


I just stumbled on your site last week and absolute love it! Your recipes are inspiring with the ingredients that I love. Your photographs are absolutely amazing ... so mesmerizing. You have a wonderful eye....a truly gifted artist. :) I'm so happy to have found this site and have shared it w/ friends already. I checked out your cookbook from the library and am thrilled to have a new vegetarian book to love and enjoy! Thank you, Heidi!


Just tried a pack of mixed grains from Trader Joe's (harvest grains blend) and it was great . . . red quinoa,red and green orzo, Israeli couscous and baby garbanzo beans. Ready to eat in less than fifteen minutes and you can add veggies, soy, etc. for variety.

Anne R

This looks great! I love your recipes, Heidi. When I cook them, use a lot less salt than they call for. I only add the salt at the very end, if needed.

Oscar M.S.

Hmm, do you think they were selling the really small packages for sprouting? Or were they single servings of grains? ;-) Thanks for this recipe! I'm always afraid to cook different grains together, and armed with a recipe I now can't wait to try this combo. You know, I think they could have been either of those things Lucy. It was hard to tell.

Lucy T.

I usually have a prepared grain mix in my fridge. I cook up a variety of grains separately and combine them after cooking. My favorites are farro, black and red quinoa, black barley and rice (brown, red, black-whatever I have). I combine the mix with salads, omlets or make salads a la tabbouleh. It's an easy way to top up my grain consumption.


My grand mother use cook something similar But each time it use to be of different variety to break the monotony. At times a new and appealing thing used to be created. She also once cooked brown unpolished hand pounded rice with hand pounded wheat .The grains soaked for few hours and then cooked with some fresh shredded cabbage and carrots .She then use to season it with a coarse powder of roasted sesame and poppy seeds along with some walnuts .Drizzling the dish with a dab of fresh home made butter. It tasted great !!

Ashish Naithani

This looks great! I love the idea of mixing millet with different types of rice!


This looks really interesting...I especially like the arancini idea.

Teri @ Make A Whisk

This sounds great & will definitely plan on trying. As for the issue with being able to rinse all the grains; would a dal strainer work? I frequently prepare several various dal recipes with beans, peas, etc of various sizes and I have a strainer with interchangeable graduated screens (each one finer than the one before). Its gets about as fine as a window screen, would this work for rinsing the amaranth? HS: Give it a try Nichole - you'll know right away :)

Nichole Gunderson

Oh, yeah I know exactly what you are talking about! I love how it adds interesting textures and makes the rice look pretty. I like to eat plain or with a pinch of salt.

Kitchen M

i'm a big fan of Kashi seven grain pilaf, but it's hard for me to find, and overpackaged to boot. But my kids love it sweet or savory so I buy it when I can find it. This looks like a great substitute and I don't have to do any of the figuring out. Thanks Heidi.


I'm glad you said that about the amaranth and strainer. I'm always wondering, what am I doing wrong here and should I bother rinsing these?? Lately I've been soaking my grains overnight with a splash of apple cider vinegar. They turn out more fluffy and sweet the next day when I cook 'em, and are easier to digest.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

The combination of grains sounds great! It's gluten free too! Normally, I don't like cooked amaranth on it's own, too gluey when it's cooked. But I think this mix will work. I've also tried to mix grains with dried beans. I found that soaking the grains and beans for 2-3 hours can ensure even cooking. Heidi, have you tried popped amaranth? I'm looking for more ideas for popped amaranth, right now, I only eat it with cereal...


Thanks, this will encourage me to try millet and amaranth again. Can't handle them on their own.


wow, i never thought of combining grains before! yum.


I live in Japan and use those packages in my rice cooker. Then I make onigiri with it or eat it with vegetable curry or with just some furikake on top. It's great but also a bit pricey in Japan. To use it in your rice cooker add about 3 tablespoons and a bit more water and cook on the regular setting. I usually make 3 cups of rice this way at a time. What rice I don't eat I put in small containers and freeze. It reheats nicely. HS: Thanks for the insight Melanie.


I like to mix quinoa and cracked wheat in my tabouli. I will try this combo. for tabouli next time. I have never tried cooking with millet and amaranth before. I will buy them in sample sizes next time I go to my co-op grocery store, and will them give them a try. Sadly, that won't happen for few more days. The only store that sells natural foods and grains is in the nearby city..I ususally visit it once a month or so. Guess what, I just went there yesterday. P.S. when you say "equal parts brown rice, red rice, and millet, plus some quinoa and millet" in the post, you mean amaranth, right? I wouldn't have pointed it out. But, I have come to know you as a perfectionist. HS: Thanks Gayatri - I just fixed it.


I've tried something very similar from Joannne Weir. But her recipe was more of a north african spiced pilaf with the addition of some dried fruit and nuts. Unfortunately, I didn't really like the "gelatinous" quality that the amaranth gave. Maybe it's time to give it another go, now that I know what to expect:) I love the arancini idea!


I love trying different grains! The mixture of these grains together looks great... I bet the texture was awesome!


If you go to an asian market, you will find these mixed grain packets. I found some in Japantown and 99 Ranch Markets. They are a bit pricey. You can make your own, but I noticed the dried beans in the packets are much smaller so it will cook the same time as the rice/grains.. I came up with my own version of mix and is quite satisfy with this version. I like to eat it plain on its own. The sweet glutinous rice gives it a nice flavor and texture. The sesame seeds gives it a nutty flavor. I make a large batch of this grains and store it in the fridge and it will last us for a few days. With the inspiration of Grandma’s grains and Japanese packet rice/grain mix, here is my own concoction: 3/4 cup medium-grain brown rice 3/4 cup red rice 2/3 cup dried hulled barley 1/2 cup dried brown lentils 1/3 cup dried whole oat groats 1/3 cup dried spelt berries or farro 1/3 cup sweet glutinous brown rice 4 tablespoons raw brown and black sesame seeds 6-1/4 cups water 1 teaspoon salt Thoroughly wash and drain rice, grains, beans and seeds well. In a heavy saucepan, combine all the grains, water and salt. Bring the grains to a boil. When the grains comes to a boil, give the grains a good stir, cover pot and reduce heat to the between medium-low and low heat. Continue to cook UNDISTURBED for about 40 minutes. Then reduce heat to low heat and cook for another 10 minutes or until water is completely absorbed. Total cooking time will be 50 minutes. Remove pot from the heat and let rice sit, covered, for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Gently fluff the grains with a fork. If grains is slightly wet, transfer hot grains to a sheet pan and spread rice out to air dry until cool enough to transfer to an airtight container, occasionally turning rice over to continue to air dry. Grains will become dry when air dried this way. Store rice in an airtight plastic container in the refrigerator.


This is a nice and creative reminder to get those whole grains in a different way. I love how endlessly adaptable they are. I'm also a big fan of a bowl of grains for breakfast, thickened with a beaten egg and a bit of milk and cinnamon.


I use a similar five grain blend in my morning porridge. I soak them all together overnight and then cook them up with some cinnamon and fruit- typically brown rice, millet, amaranth, teff, quinoa and buckwheat. Ensures a broad spectrum of minerals and amino acids- and most importantly- it's yummy.

Making Love In The Kitchen

Ever since your post about "Grandma's Grains" last summer, we've been doing a very, very similar creature. We call it our "grain pot" and make a bunch at the beginning of the week for the starch with dinner all week. Goes great with bean dishes, stirfries, saucy stewy dishes, etc. our is usually 2 part millet, 1 part sweet brown rice, 2 parts red quinoa, 2 parts golden quinoa, and 1 part wheat kernels.


I am sloooowly getting my family to try different, and more nutritious, grains. This is no easy task; you should have seen how long it took for them to even like brown rice! They like quinoa, too. There is a store here that does have a very nice supply of different grains and rices and flours and 'gourmet' items; I'll have to look more closely this Friday! HEIDI: Any tips to introducing the family to these new, healthier delights?

Trish in MO

That does look like a rather amazing combination.


I have a small bag of teff that I may add to this mix as well. It sounds yummy! Did you have trouble at all with customs bringing food back into the country after your trip?


Heart rice salads and arancini sounds wonderful.


Awesome recipe, it sounds wonderful! Also: "I dont rinse the amaranth along with the other grains because the grains are SO tiny they run right through my relatively fine-gauge strainer. So I stir them in later." Wonderful tip! My fine strainer is probably way bigger than the tiny one that you have, so I'll be stirring them in later too! Thanks!


Excellent post. It's cool to see all the different ways to prepare rice.

chris @ tacosalad

This sounds interesting. You know, the very cool thing about visiting these blogs is that you see a lot of things that you would never think of. I really enjoy everything I've read here. It's always an exciting experience.


Do you think this could be done in a rice cooker? Just checking :) Thanks!

Alisa - Frugal Foodie

I've been playing around with different grains too, but I haven't been able to find a combination that cooks evenly together. I've been covering the pot though - maybe that's the difference. I will definitely give this a try - thanks!


oh looks deeelish!


My very first thought on reading this recipe was: I bet it would go great in Heidi's mushroom casserole! (That recipe is one of my very favorites of yours, by the way.) Have you tried it there yet? HS: I haven't Tracy, but I imagine it would be quite good.


We have the same thing in Korea! Very nutty and nutritious and versatile. Great post!


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