Sekihan 赤飯 is a variation of the classic steamed white rice that is served on a daily base on the tables of Japanese families. Is characterized by a soft and chewy texture, red color (although more like a deep pink), and is cooked together with Azuki beans and black sesame seeds.
Is a traditional dish eaten mainly on festive occasions, such as New Year celebrations or others special occasion, and the reason is that it has long been believed that the color red had the power to ward off evil spirits and avert disasters.
赤 = Red
飯 = Rice, Boiled Rice
It can be bought in bento shops, where it is generally displayed in delightful kiosks outside the shop, supermarket or simply in convenience stores in the form of Onigiri.
I also encourage you to try to cook it at home! It require a bit of patience but the result will surprised you!
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do!
Let’s start by wash and drain the azuki beans. Place them in a saucepan and pour in enough water to cover their surface. Place over medium heat, bring to boil and cook gently for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain.
Return the beans to the pot, pour around 250 ml of water, and place back over medium heat. Bring to boil, lower the heat to low so the skin doesn’t break, and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Important. The cooking times are approximate. You can tell if the beans are cooked by trying to break them with chopsticks. If they break easily, they are ready.
Drain the beans, and keep their cooking water in a separate container. Allow the beans to cool, close them in a jar with 1/3 cup of water, and store in the fridge.
Let’s prepare the two cups of Mochi. Wash them underwater three times or at least until the water is clear. Drain and put in a bowl.
Add the red cooking water from the beans, mix, cover with a towel and leave it to rest for 7-8 hours.
(I prepared the rice in the evening and let it rest overnight).
Bring the rice cooker. Add rice together with the bean water (you will need to add a little more water to reach the correct cooking level*), sprinkle in the Azuki beans, salt to taste, and start cooking.
Once ready, add some black sesame seeds and serve your Sekihan 赤飯 while still hot.
* For cook two cups of Mochi rice you will need 360 ml of water in total.
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