Every Independence Day deserves a showstopper of a cake, and this Flag Cake delivers! My husband is from the Philippines, so we always like to have a little celebration to honor their Independence Day, which is June 12th. Filipinos actually have a second day, July read more
Red Bean Rice is a special occasion dish in Japan. Graduations, new babies, weddings, holidays…Red Bean Rice makes its welcomed appearance. Savory and comforting, the rice takes on a red hue from the azuki beans that symbolizes good luck and prosperity. It’s an usual dish because azuki beans are often sweetened and used in dessert recipes, but this treats them more like the beans we are used to. This has a longer prep/cook time than recipes I usually share, but most of it is hands off time, and you are rewarded with a really versatile dish that feels super special. So let’s get into it.
Gomashio for Red Bean Rice
Red Bean Rice wouldn’t be complete without the toasty, crunchy topping. Gomashio is a very simple blend of sesame seeds and salt. I like to use black sesame seeds for this because it contrasts beautifully with the red rice, but if all you have on hand are white seeds those will work too. Just don’t skip the toasting part, that is essential to unleashing their deeply nutty flavor. You can do this ahead of time. It keeps well for a couple of weeks.
Red Azuki Beans
Typically in Japanese cuisine, azuki beans are reserved for pastries and other sweet applications, even ice cream. You can find them canned in a sweet syrup with the other canned fruit in the Asian grocery store. But for savory Red Bean Rice, we start with dried beans.
They are small, mild, and nutty. They also tend to be a really hard little bean, and benefit from an overnight soaking. Otherwise they take a significantly longer time to cook. I also think that the beans never really hydrate as well if you don’t do the soak.
In a pinch, I would try a fast soak, by bringing unsealed beans to a boil, and then turning off the heat and letting them sit in the water for an hour or so. Otherwise the pressure cooker is helpful too. Combine the unsoaked beans with a couple cups of water and cook for 15 minutes in low pressure and let it naturally release pressure.
Sticky rice, also called glutinous rice, is essential for Red Bean Rice. It has a distinctive chewy texture and mildly sweet flavor. It needs to be soaked to ensure even cooking.
Cooking Red Bean Rice
Now that the sticky rice is soaked, and the azuki beans are cooked, it’s time to put them together and finish the dish! I love to use a rice cooker for this; they have automatic settings for sticky rice, but I give instructions in the notes section for preparing in a pressure cooker or on the stovetop.
And that’s it! Your Red Bean Rice is ready for your special occasion! Even if that special occasion is binge watching Ozarks. You can either garnish the rice with the gomashio topping, or put out a bowl of it and let folks do it themselves.
This Red Bean Rice has graced so many of my family’s holiday tables, I hope it becomes a regular part of your celebrations too. Please take a second to rate and leave a comment on the recipe, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 15.2 oz (3 rice cooker cups) sticky rice
- 2.5 ounces dried azuki beans (about ⅓ cup)
- 4 cups water
- 3 ½ oz bag cooked and peeled chestnuts
- 3 Tablespoons black sesame seeds
- ½ Tablespoon sea salt
- Sort (checking for any small pebbles or debris) and then wash the azuki beans. Soak the beans in 3 cups of water overnight.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a skillet over medium low heat for 3-4 minutes to bring out the flavor of the sesame. Then mix with the salt. Set aside to cool until ready to eat the rice.
- Wash the rice and soak it in water for at least 1 hour. Drain the rice using a sieve.
- Drain the soaked azuki beans and put them into a pot. Pour 3 cups of fresh water over the beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium low, partially cover with a lid, and cook for 45 minutes-1 hour until the beans are firm but cooked through.
- Drain the beans, saving the cooking liquid separately.
- Add the drained rice and azuki beans to the rice cooker. Add the red soaking liquid to the level required for 3 cups of sticky rice/sweet rice. Add a little water if there is not enough red liquid. Turn the switch on.
- Once the rice is cooked, let it sit for 5 additional minutes. Add the chestnuts and mix gently using a spatula.
- Serve with gomashio either sprinkled over the rice or in a separate container for individuals to sprinkle.
*If you soak the beans the night before, your beans will be done in 30-45 mins. You can also cook the beans in a pressure cooker. I cook them on low pressure for 15 minutes and then let it naturally release for another 15 minutes. You can prepare the beans ahead of time so they are ready to use. They last in the fridge for several days.
*It is not necessary, although highly recommended, to soak the azuki beans. Azuki beans have very hard skins and it is difficult for them to hydrate well while cooking. If you do not soak the beans, you will need to cook the beans for about 90 mins. Check the water level and softness periodically, adding water as needed.
*You can also cook the beans in a pressure cooker. I cook them on low pressure for 15 minutes and then let it naturally release for another 15 minutes. You can prepare the beans ahead of time so they are ready to use. They last in the fridge for several days.
*If you do not have a rice cooker, you can also steam the rice. Place the rice on two layers of cheesecloth or a steamer cloth in a steamer basket insert (Make sure to rinse the cloth first). Fill the bottom pot with plenty of water and then place the steamer basket and a lid on top.
Bring the pot to boil on high heat and let the rice steam for 10 mins. Carefully lift the lid and gently flip the rice over so that the rice that was on the bottom is now on top, so you can evenly steam the rice. Cover the pot again and steam for an additional 10 mins.
Check the rice. It should be translucent, shiny, and sticky. Take a little taste if you are unsure. The rice should have a nice chewy texture. If you’re not sure, you can continue to cook the rice for a little longer.
Keywords: red bean rice, azuki beans, japanese, holiday, sides, sticky rice, rice
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Lunar New Year, one of the most important holidays in China, starts today. But don’t worry, celebrations typically last for weeks. So you have plenty of time to throw your own Lunar New Year dinner party. And no such menu would be complete without Longevity Noodles. Long strands of noodles symbolize a long life, and are served at birthday celebrations as well. There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but this is a special occasion dish. What’s a few extra steps in the pursuit of a long, healthy life? And once you dig into these Longevity Noodles, with their tangy sauce and plump shrimp, savory pork, meaty mushrooms, and crunchy toppings, you’ll know it was worth it.
Longevity Noodles Sauce
I start this recipe by whipping up a very quick, but deeply flavorful sauce. Pantry staples like oyster sauce, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine gets stirred together with some chicken stock and set aside.
Then I move on to prepping the vegetables. Get everything ready so you can move to the stove and set up an assembly line of cooking.
Longevity Noodles Toppings
The toppings are what really set this noodle dish apart. Fried shallots and peanuts and ribbons of egg crepe add tons of flavor and texture. Because this dish has a lot of moving parts, there are some shortcuts I can recommend if you just don’t have the time or energy to go full out.
1. The egg crepe can be substituted with simple boiled eggs. I think soft fried eggs might be nice too, although casual and a little messy.
2. You can buy fried shallots in the Asian market. They come in a tub and you’ll get way more than you need so use the rest to top fried rice, noodles soups, or salads.
3. You can buy roasted peanuts instead of frying your own.
That said, I think you’ll be surprised by how much more flavorful homemade toppings can be. I don’t even really like peanuts, but straight from frying them in the pan, they were pretty great. If you find it’s too much prep work for one day, you can do things in stages. Cut up all of the veggies and start prepping some of the toppings the day before so you can focus on finishing the dish on the second day.
Once cool enough to handle, I cut the stack in half and slice them into ribbons.
It’s important to keep an eye on the shallots. Start them on higher heat and then when they start to get a light golden brown, you can turn the heat down and continue frying until they are evenly fried and a nice bronze color.
Likewise, you want to watch the peanuts carefully. When they have a hint of color and you think you want to leave them for a couple more minutes-Don’t! Take them out. The peanuts are so hot they will count to brown off heat so don’t leave them in the oil too long.
Now that the toppings are done it’s time to make the pork sauce. First I put on a big pot of water because by the time it’s boiling, the pork will be done and it will be time to cook the noodles and shrimp and assemble our Longevity Noodles.
The Shrimp and Noodles
Now we are in the home stretch. At this point your water should be boiling, and we’ll turn off the heat and quickly cook the shrimp in it. This is the perfect way to cook plump and juicy shrimp-indirect heat. Shrimp is so delicate and cooks so quickly, it’s not necessary to hit it with a ton of heat. Gentle cooking is the best way.
Then scoop them out and set aside, and bring the water back to a boil. I know there are an endless variety of noodles in an Asian market. We want long, thin wheat ones for Longevity Noodles. Often you’ll find them just for the occasion, in lucky red boxes. However, I included somen as an option, which is a thin Japanese noodle. It’s similar to the long life noodles and will work if you cannot find the other ones.
Because they are so thin, they cook in under a minute! As soon as the noodles float to the surface, they are ready. After draining them, I give them a quick rinse to remove excess starch. Then I add the toasted sesame oil, coating each strand. This gives extra flavor but also keeps the strands from clumping up.
Now it’s time to assemble! Pour the pork sauce over the noodles, and garnish with all the delicious toppings!
Longevity Noodles are so special and festive, try them for your next celebration! Long life is as good a reason as any to indulge in a big platter of noodles, right? Let me know what you think of them by rating and commenting on the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations!
- 4 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons shaoxing wine
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ½ cup neutral oil
- 3 large shallots
- 5 Tablespoons raw peanuts (with the skins)
- 3 eggs
- 2 scallions, minced
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
- ½ large yellow onion
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon water
- 8 pieces of large shrimp (I used 21/25 size)
- 300 grams ultra thin wheat noodles (about 10 ounces)
- ½ Tablespoon sesame oil
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Make the sauce:
- Combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, and chicken stock in a small bowl.
- Stir to combine and set aside.
Prep the vegetables:
- Cut the stems off of the shiitakes and discard. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
- Slice the onions thin and set aside.
- Trim, peel, and slice the shallots paper thin.
Prep the Toppings:
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk to scramble them. Set aside.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes. Take a paper towel and crumple it. Dip it into the neutral oil and wipe the inside of the pan with the oil.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of the egg to the pan and swirl it to cover the bottom of the pan. Keep swirling until you don’t have any more liquid egg to swirl.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook the egg for 20 seconds and then take the lid off.
- Blow onto the egg. (The edge will lift up). Flip the egg with chopsticks or a spatula and cook the other side for another couple of seconds.
- Transfer the egg crepe to a plate.
- Continue cooking in the same way until all of the egg is used up and you have a pile of egg crepes. Set the plate aside to cool.
- Heat a small skillet over medium high heat for several minutes with the oil in the pan.
- Test the oil with a piece of shallot. If it sizzles, add the rest of the shallots. If not, heat the oil for another minute or two before adding the shallots.
- Use a pair of tongs or chopsticks to separate the shallots into individual rings. Cook the shallots for 3-4 minutes until starting to get golden. Then, turn the heat to medium and continue cooking until a deep golden brown, another minute or two.
- (If the shallots start to turn dark too soon, turn the heat down or take the pan off of the heat for the rest of the cooking time).
- Transfer the shallots onto some paper towels with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pan.
- Add the peanuts to the shallot oil and heat the pan over medium low heat for about 5 minutes until the nuts are golden in color.
- Transfer the peanuts with a slotted spoon onto some paper towels and set aside.
- Reserve the oil.
- Bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a pot over high heat. Then put a lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat for several minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon of the reserved peanut oil and add the ground pork. Let the pork cook for 2 minutes untouched before using a spatula to break up the meat. Continue cooking for a minute.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms and stir to combine.
- Next, add the onions and the garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the pork is fully cooked.
- Add the sauce and cook for another 3-4 mins. until the sauce has reduced a little and the onions are tender.
- Add the cornstarch and stir quickly to incorporate.
- Cook the sauce for another minute to thicken.
- Set aside the pan while you boil the noodles.
Shrimp and Noodles:
- Take the lid off of your pot and make sure that your pot of water is boiling. Add the shrimp, turn off the heat, and let the shrimp sit in the water for 2 minutes to cook. Scoop the shrimp out and set aside.
- Return the water to a boil and add the noodles and cook them for approximately 40 seconds to 1 minute. As soon as the noodles float to the surface, they are cooked. If you’re not sure, take a quick taste.
- Drain the noodles in a colander in the sink, rinse with running water to remove excess noodle starch, and then shake the colander to make sure you have eliminated as much water as possible.
- Add the sesame oil to the noodles and mix well to coat the strands. Transfer the noodles to a large serving platter and spread them out a little.
- Pour the meat sauce over the noodles. Garnish the noodles with the egg crepe, peanuts, fried shallots and scallions. Put the shrimp around the noodles or group them on one area of the dish.
- Serve Longevity Noodles immediately.
*This dish has many steps but it’s a celebration dish which requires a little more time and care. If you would like to cut down on some of the steps, here are some suggestions:
- You can substitute the egg crepe with simple soft boiled eggs. Simmer the eggs on medium heat for 8 minutes. Cool under running water and then peel and cut the eggs in half.
- Buy toasted peanuts and skip cooking them yourself.
- You can also buy ready to use fried shallots at an asian market. They come in a container and can be used as a topping for other noodle dishes, fried rices, etc.
*The remaining oil can be used for any of your cooking needs.
Keywords: lunar new year, good luck, long life, noodles,