The color of this azuki gohan displays a mellow but very elegant red hue. It consists of rice cooked with azuki (sometimes spelled “adzuki”) beans. Because of its attractive color azuki gohan is considered a good luck meal item and is served at auspicious occasions in Japan.
Azuki beans are rich in minerals including magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. They are also rich in protein, B vitamins and soluble dietary fibers. It is clinically proven that azuki has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer property. With this information I am sure that you will want to make this simple, elegant, healthy and delicious rice dish in your kitchen.
Here is the recipe. I always use dry azuki beans for this dish, because already cooked canned azuki beans that I find at supermarkets are cooked a bit too tender. If cooking the dry beans is too much labor for you, then find and use the already cooked canned and unflavored azuki beans. If you are doing from scratch with dried beans, rinse the beans in plenty of water in a large bowl. Change the water several times. Drain the beans and place them in a large pot along with water which is 5 times more volume than that of the beans. Soak the beans overnight. Remove the beans and soaking water from the refrigerator and transfer them to the pot. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Then, cook about 5 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse them under tap water. Return the beans to the pot and add new water. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat and then turn to low heat, cook the beans until they are tender, but are on the firmer side. Cooking time varies depending on the dry beans you have selected, but cooking time is in the range of 1 to 2 hours. During cooking check the water level several times and add additional water to the pot so that the beans are always well submerged under the cooking liquid. Turn off the heat and drain the beans, reserving the bean-cooking liquid.
When I prepare this type of mixed rice, takikomi-gohan, I always use a donabe (earthenware) pot. If you do not own a donabe pot, you can prepare the dish in a rice cooker. And if you do not have a rice cooker, use a deep pot, rather than a shallow and large one. The pot must have a tight-fitting lid.
2/3 cup dried azuki beans or 1 ½ cups cooked azuki beans
4 cups polished rice, rinsed 3 to 4 times changing water; soak the rice in the in bean-cooking water for half an hour or more to color the rice. Drain the rice and dry for 20 minutes, reserving the bean-cooking water.
4 cups azuki beans-cooking liquid
1 teaspoon sea salt
Toasted mixture of black sesame seeds and sea salt
Add the rinsed and drained rice to the donabe pot, rice cooker pot or regular pot. With your hand, level the top of the rice. Add the cooked beans to the pot and cover the rice evenly with the beans. Add the azuki bean-cooking liquid and salt. Cover the pot with the fitting lid and cook as follows for a donabe cooking pot. Put the pot over very high heat and immediately set your timer for 15 minutes; after 3 to 4 minutes of cooking you will begin to see steam coming out from the little hole on the earthenware lid. Turn the heat to very low and cook until the timer beeps. Then, turn the heat to very high again and count to 60. Turn off the heat completely. You will see a strong flow of steam escaping from the little hole in the lid. After 2 minutes or so, the steam will subside. After further 5 minutes of resting, remove the lid from the pot and with a spatula stir the rice gently and thoroughly so that the beans are evenly distributed through the rice. Divide the rice into 5 rice bowls. Sprinkle the black sesame seeds and salt mixture over the rice.
I am leaving for Japan tomorrow, July 7, to lead my tour, Kyushu with Hiroko 2018. So at that point they will be 5 weeks-dried leaves. Please follow the tour on Instagram; and you will enjoy what you see and you may want to join me with others for Kyushu with Hiroko 2019!