Sekihan Red Beans and Rice (Canned Beans are OK)
Sekihan, which literally means red beans and rice, is a dish that is made for special events in Japan. Often, it is eaten at auspicious times, such as birthdays or holidays. The rice is a pink color because it is cooked in the cooking liquid of the azuki beans. Glutinous rice is traditional, but I prefer to use white rice and glutinous rice together, to lighten the texture. The cooked rice is still glossy and beautiful, and it has a wonderful taste.
Traditionally, it took a lot of planning and time to make sekihan because the rice had to soak in the water used to cook the beans, overnight, then steamed the next day. These days, most people don’t soak the rice overnight and the rice isn’t always steamed, but cooked on the stove or in a rice cooker. If you have access to a Japanese store, you can also save time by buying a can of cooked azuki beans. I will give you instructions for cooking your own beans and using canned beans.
Sekihan Red Beans and Rice
For the beans
1/4 cup dried azuki beans
2 cups water
For the rice
1 cup Japanese white rice
½ cup glutinous rice
1 1/3 cups liquid (water plus bean cooking liquid)
1 teaspoon sake
½ teaspoon salt
Toasted black sesame seeds for serving
1. Add enough water in a pot to cover the beans; boil for 5 minutes, then drain. Add 2 cups of water to the beans and bring it back to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary, until the beans are almost softened. It is not necessary to cook the beans all the way at this point because they will cook again with the rice. Also, we want the beans to remain intact, so take care not to overcook. Drain the beans and keep the cooking liquid.
2. Wash the white and glutinous rice together in several changes of water. Drain. Place the rice in a rice cooker or pot. Add the cooked beans to the rice. Add the cooking liquid from the beans and additional water to total 1 1/3 cups of liquid. Add the sake and salt and mix stir everything together. Cook as directed with a rice cooker. After the rice has cooked, leave it in the rice cooker for 10 more minutes. To cook the rice on the stove, bring the rice to a boil for one minute; turn down the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes without opening the lid. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest, covered, for 10 more minutes. Use a wooden spatula to move the rice around gently in the pot. Serve hot or at room temperature, with black sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
For using canned beans: You will need one small 4.2 ounce can of azuki beans. Drain the beans and keep the liquid. You will have about ¾ cup beans and ½ cup liquid. Add water to the bean liquid to total 1 1/3 cups liquid. Proceed with the recipe from step 2.