Monday, January 3, 2011

Mystery of Japanese Cooking

One of the most popular dishes for New Years Holidays is cooked black beans.
People eat these black beans ( in Japanese "Kuro-mame") wishing healthy life (mame means healthy in old Japanese) in coming year. So I also cook these black beans every year.

There are many recipes for cooking black beans, and Japanese black beans usually comes into the form of dried beans, therefore in most cases cooking it takes 2-3 days.

On the night of the first day,
1. wash the dried black beans (400 grams)
2. boil cooking liquid consisting of water (14 cups), sugar (300grams),  soy-sauce(1/3 cup), salt(1/2 table spoon), baking soda(1 table spoon) AND....

I use artist quality iron nails which I use for stretching canvases!

This is essential ingredient in this cooking. If you do not have ones, you can make them instantly by spraying small amount of vinegar on  nails and leave them 3 days. Rust on iron nails (actually tannin included in them) make the beans very black like velvet.
Without the rusted nails, the cooking liquid is just pale color and the beans will ended up with ugly brown. You must wash the nails lightly and wrap and tie them together with white cloth or thick paper towels so that the nails does not get scattered.
cooking liquid without rusted nails
Now you are ready put the black beans into the boiled liquid. Stop heating right after adding the beans. (Do not cook them now !)

3. Leave the pot overnight.

In the morning on the second day, you start cooking.
4. Cook the bean until the liquid is boiling again.
5. Take bubbles and scums on the surface
6. Add 1/2 cup of water to stop boiling
7. Cook at lowest heat for 6-7 hours, make sure that the beans are always immersed in the liquid. If the liquid is not enough, you can add 1/2 cup of water at a time.
8. Stop heating and leave the pot overnight so that the beans absorb the liquid.
You are done!

In the morning of the third day, you will find the very beautiful black beans ready to eat.
7 days in fridge. (or cold place is OK, since it contains lots of sugar.)


  1. I can't say I've ever heard of a cooking method like this but I'd be willing to try.

  2. Do not ever forget to take out the nails wrapped with paper towel. We don't eat nails!