Since red is the color of felicity in Japan, this dish is found on the menus of most formal, happy occasions. Here small red beans are pre-cooked to release a deep red liquid which is then used to tint the steaming rice and beans. It is not difficult to make, although it requires a great deal of time, mostly unattended. Unlike other recipes this particular dish uses glutinous rice, which is steamed and requires none of the tricky temperature changes of regular rice. Serve it with sweet simmered black mushrooms, Salt-Grilled Fish or Chicken, and a green vegetable (such as Spinach with Sesame Seed Dressing) or a salad.
Rinse and drain the beans, then simmer them in the water, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until they give just a little when pinched. Drain the beans, reserving the deep red-colored cooking liquid.
Wash the glutinous rice several times, draining it very well after the final rinse. In a bowl, pour half of the reserved red bean liquid over the rice, adding water, if necessary, to barely cover it. Soak the rice in the deep red liquid for at least 4 hours at room temperature or overnight if refrigerated. Reserve, too, the parboiled beans and remaining red liquid, each in its own covered container in the refrigerator.
Just before steaming, drain the rice and mix it with the beans. Spread this mixture evenly on the rack of a Japanese steamer or on a plate in an improvised steamer.
Cover, and steam the rice and beans for about 15 minutes before sprinkling them with one-third of the reserved red liquid. Cover again and repeat the steaming-sprinkling procedure 2 more times, for a total of 40–45 minutes’ steaming. Remove your steamer from the heat and allow the beans and rice to cool slightly before removing the lid. Lightly toss the tinted rice and beans with a dampened wooden paddle. Spinkle some of the sesame-and-salt mixture over it. Serve warm or at room temperature. Any leftovers may be refrigerated and resteamed for 3–5 minutes the following day.
© 1986 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.