Christmas Beans and Rice

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Ho, ho, ho! It's the holiday season. In Japan, sekihan or red rice is a traditional New Year's dish. The color red was considered good fortune, and is an auspicious way to start the New Year. Sekihan is so strongly associated with celebration, that the phrase "Let's have sekihan" has come to mean "Let's celebrate."   Not having azuki on hand, I decided to make red beans anyways – just not the traditional kind. Instead, we have what I call Christmas Beans and Rice .For good measure I included fresh soybeans as well, giving the dish a positively festive look. Slightly sweet and chewy, it’s a comforting dish despite its departure from tradition. 

Ingredients:

1 cup short grain rice
2 tablespoons mirin
A dash of white sugar
1/2  cup of red beans, cooked, washed and drained
1/4 cup raw fresh soybeans
Sesame seeds (optional)

Cookware: 

A pot with a lid
Large bowl
Spatula

Instructions:

1. Rinse and drain the rice in cool, clean water one or two times. 
2. In a pot combine rice, mirin, red beans, and 1 cup of water. 
3. Cover with lid and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to low.
4. Cook for 25 minutes or until the rice has taken on a matte sheen. Do a taste-test just to be sure.
5. Turn off heat and allow the rice to sit for 2-3 minutes.
6. Carefully transfer the hot rice to the bowl and add the raw soy beans, gently folding into the mixture (the key is to not break the red beans too much)
7. Top with sesame seeds, if desired, and serve. 

*Note: I used frozen soy beans and they thawed out quickly in the hot rice. The raw chewy-ness of the beans was a nice contrast against the soft red beans and rice.