Every Japanese citizen starts a New Year with auspicious Osechi Ryori meal. Osechi Ryori is a celebration meal like the one enjoyed at Thanksgiving dinner. There is a whole set of rule of what to be served for the celebration. Osechi Ryori has many dishes in the meal. Each ingredient used is related to something which bring us luck, prosperity, health and happiness in the New Year.
I have begun making Osechi Ryori dish preparation on December 27th. At the beginning of next year we are holding a Japanese New Year Open House. Follow me what I am going to prepare. You may try it at the end of next year for the following New Year’s celebration.
First dish which I completed is Kuromame. It is a dish in which dried black soybeans are simmered tender and flavored with sugar, salt and little shoyu. Beans in Japanese is ‘mame’. Mame’s another interpretation is health. Eating kuromame (black soybeans), thus, brings us health throughout the year. Too superstitious? It is delicious!
I use my mother’s recipe for this preparation, in which the skin of cooked soybeans develops shrinkage on the surface of the beans towards the end of cooking. This, according to my mother, reminds us of old age (wrinkles on the face!), and teach us to appreciate and celebrate old ages. Today kuromame cooked smooth on the skin has become main stream, as more people worry about one’s own wrinkles on the face.
Rinse and soak dried soybeans overnight in water. Next morning remove broken beans (discarding) and transfer other beans to a large pot with the soaking water. I add my iron egg in the pot (see the below for an iron egg). Bring the soaking water and beans to a simmer and cook the beans over low heat until beans are tender. This year I purchased the very good quality beans at Outside Market of Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. The beans are larger than the ones which I cooked before. Usually 5 hours is enough for them to become tender, but these large beans took 10 hours to cook! During cooking remember to keep adding additional water, so that the beans are always submerged in cooking liquid. Cool the beans in the cooking liquid. Separate the beans and cooking liquid. Add sugar to the cooking liquid and bring it to a simmer. The beans and sugar rates are: 2 cups dried beans and 2 cups sugar. You can reduce sugar if you want it not too sweet. Return the beans to the cooking liquid and cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes.
For those who want to cook the beans smooth on the surface, here is the recipe and the secret of using an egg;
Kuromame for Health.