August 13th to 15th is the ‘Obon season‘ in Japan.
Obon is a Buddist custom to honor the our ancestors.
Family reunite returning to their regions, each Obon customs differ regionally. Visiting ancestors’ graves and temples.
It is also the height of summer season, so if you would to experience the genuine summer of Japan; it may not be the best experience of your life but it is the perfect time to do so. However during the Obon week, be careful with your traveling plans as the bullet trains, flights and inter-highways are packed, I mean over packed – too fully booked.
Since it is the Obon season, I’ve decide to make a typical seasonal dish;
shōjin ryōri (Buddist Vegetarian Food) dish
called ‘Osekihan’; which is a steamed sticky rice with red beans.
Osekihan is a typical household (mother’s) dish cooked for any festive occasions.
Osekihan (Sticky Rice with red beans) Recipe
Preparation (Night Before Cooking)
- Wash the sticky rice in water and soak for about 30 minutes before use..
- Boil the red beans (Aduki). Bring to boil and gently boil for about 2-3 minutes in water and drain out the water to cool for about 5 minutes. Return the beans back into the pan with about 7 cups of water, boil in medium to low heat for about 15-20minutes without letting the beans split. The beans should be slightly stiff but NOT HARD.
- Separate the beans and the red bean water; refrigerate the beans (without letting it go dry) and let the red bean water cool.
- Once the red bean water has cooled, soak the sticky rice overnight.
Steaming the Rice
- Drain the stick rice before cooking.
- Soak the pre-cooked 1 cup of red beans in 3/4 cups of red bean juice(1) + 3/4 teaspoon of salt.
- Using a steamer, wrap the drained sticky rice in a ‘steaming cloth’. Steaming in high heat for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add (2) in mixing evenly in a big bowl.
- Place it back in the steamer, to steam for 20 minutes or so occasionally turning the rice upside down to avoid uneven steaming and watering (spraying) it with you hands to avoid letting it dry.
- The rice will slightly stiffen once cool so see it the rice is soft enough after 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let it cool wrapped within the steamer cloth and place the rice in a container without letting it go dry.
written by Hisako Makimura/Tokyo, Japan