Sekihan (Japanese Azuki Beans & Rice) 赤飯

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Sekihan Recipe |

Since we were visiting San Diego over the holidays and couldn’t celebrate New Years Day in Japanese style this year, my mom and I decided to make this festive Japanese Azuki Beans & Rice called Sekihan after we came back from the trip.

Sekihan IISekihan literary means “red rice” in Japanese because the rice is red from cooking with red Azuki beans. It’s a traditional dish served during New Years, birth of baby, birthdays, festivals, weddings, or any kind of celebrations.

Traditionally Sekihan is made of all sweet rice (you might call it sticky rice, glutinous rice, or mochigome), but 100% sweet rice is pretty filling and sort of heavy on the stomach, so a lot of people add regular rice (Japanese premium short grain rice).

Azuki beans are commonly used in Japanese sweets and we used the azuki paste (we call it An) to put in Mochi, Manju, Dorayaki (Japanese Red Bean Pancake), Red Bean Ice Cream, and so on. It’s one of my favorite ingredients in sweets, similar to chocolate for Western desserts.

The unique thing about Sekihan is that we sometimes serve it at room temperature. For regular steam rice we don’t do that unless it’s served as rice ball (Onigiri). Sekihan is usually sprinkled with gomashio (a mixture of toasted black sesame and salt) over the rice before serving. We enjoyed this special rice with my mom and wished together we will have a happy and healthy life this year.

By the way, my mom left for Japan yesterday which means I’m finally back on blogging full time after 4 weeks of vacation. We had a great time while she was here and my children miss her very much already. We’re planning to visit Japan and Taiwan this summer to let the children spend more time with their grandparents. I’ll be catching up this week on your comments and emails (yes finally!).

Sekihan III

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Sekihan (Japanese Azuki Beans & Rice)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 5-6
  • ½ cup (Japanese rice cooker cup shown below) Azuki beans
  • 3 cups (Japanese rice cooker cup) sweet rice/sticky rice/glutinous rice/mochigome
  • ½ cup (Japanese rice cooker cup) Japanese premium short grain rice
  • 2 ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Gomashio or toasted black sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Wash azuki beans and soak for half day (over night).
  2. Combine both rice into one and wash rice (See Step 1-4 on How To Make Rice). Drain the rice for 30 minutes.
  3. Put azuki beans in a small pot (don't use a large pot). Put water to just cover the beans (you don’t want to put water too much here) and bring it to a boil on high heat.
  4. Once it boils, turn off the heat and transfer the beans into a sieve to drain water.
  5. Put azuki beans back in the pot and add 2 ½ cup water. Bring it to a boil on high heat. Once it boils, turn down the heat to low and cover the lid. Keep it simmering for 15 minutes (it depends on Azuki beans). Beans are done when you can smash a bean with fingers.
  6. When it’s done, reserve the cooking red water and beans separately in a bowl. Use plastic wrap to cover the beans so it doesn’t dry out and crack. Let them cool down completely.
  7. Add rice into the rice cooker bowl. Pour the reserved water in the rice cooker bowl until 3 cups for Sweet Rice (or little bit below 3 cups for White Rice if you don’t have Sweet Rice option). If you don’t have enough reserved water, add water to make 3 cups. Then add beans and salt. Mix and start cooking.
  8. When it’s done cooking, keep the lid close for an additional 15 minutes. Stir the rice gently and serve. Sprinkle gomashio or toasted black sesame if you like.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.
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  1. This looks great and colourful Nami – I’m not familiar with the azuki beans but they look wonderful! I must have a look for sticky rice – I’m getting really tired of making a stir-fry or something and having to switch over to a spoon for the rice half-way through 😀

    Glad you had a good vacation time – Hope you’re not too sad that your mother has gone back – I know it’s hard to say goodbye to family :(

  2. Glad to hear you had a wonderful time with your mom, Nami. This looks really yummy! How interesting that the azuki bean is also associated with celebrations for Chinese culture. I have been craving for azuki bean soup for the past few days but got held up with my upcoming travel. Can’t wait to make the dessert & to try out your Sekihan recipe when i come back!

  3. The water really gets red from the beans, not like the red beans we ususally cook. I’m a big beans and rice fan and I would love this meal. The rest of my family, not so much. Oh well more for me. I’m happy that you’ve had a long vacation and got to spend time with your Mom.

  4. Nami, we love rice pudding in our house and this does sound fabulous and something completely different. I’d love so much to try this with the beans. It does sound a bit heavy, but boy – it looks heavenly! This is another addition to that famous list for the Japanese supermarket in Paris…
    So glad you had precious times with your Mum and the children. It’s great that they’ll see each other again soon enough!

  5. Welcome back Nami to full time blogging :) But you deserved a good break and to spend some good quality time with your family!

    i’ve never heard of Sekihan :) would like to try though, i’m weird I like sweet rice more than normal plain rice hehe ~

    I totally agree with you Azuki beans and matcha is the staple for so many japanese desserts ~

  6. Leola G

    Hi Nami,
    I’ve tried making this dish before and it didn’t come out the way it did when my sister made it. Is there a way to make this without a rice cooker? I hope you had a wonderful New Year!

    • Hi Leola!

      I’m sorry to say, but I have never cooked Sekihan in a regular pot. I know it’s possible but I rely on my high tech rice cooker… it can be my generation thing but I can’t live without a rice cooker as I can set a timer and save some time. I hope you can Google and find some recipe that is useful, and I’m very sorry I couldn’t help you. :-(

  7. Yay! Your back! I’m really happy you had a break though. You definitely deserve it. I love Azuki beans and my kids are beans and rice fanatics, so this will be a hit with the family. I still remember your lovely red bean ice cream post! One of my favorites. :)

  8. I’m glad you had such a wonderful visit with your mom…I loved seeing your smiling faces on facebook! And what a beautiful rice dish…I know both you and your mom enjoyed cooking together!

  9. Nami, this dish looks terrific! It’s also so interesting to discover Japanes New Year’s dishes! Actually it’s as if you made it especially for me :-) In fact, I have bought a bag of azuki beans recently and still haven’t even opened it! Now I have no excuse!
    Thank you for reading my thoughts and guessing what is inside my kitchen 😉

  10. Nami, it is hard being away from parents and family, how long does your mother usually visit? My parents come down to Florida for a month visit in Feb, we celebrate some missed holidays during that time.

    I might just make this tonight…it sounds really good and I have all the ingredients in the house so I can make it. I love to get new ideas for beans and rice. I have made red bean paste to make mooncakes and have some red beans left. It’s nice they are small and can cook easily. Would love to go to Japan with you this summer :)

  11. I love aduki beans, so glad that you posted this. I think adukis are a much lesser known bean. Sounds like you had a wonderful and very busy vacation and visit with your Mom. Have a wonderful day.

  12. Never made it, but I have a friend in Japan with a sweets’ shops and they make a good one, they always gave me some!.

    Ciao and… did I say happy New Year to you already??? I have been on and off with the internet and forgot who I managed to visit these days or not. Anyway, Akemashite Omedeto Gazaimasu!!!


  13. This sounds great Nami! I love learning about traditional dishes. I also like how you used several different types of rice. I’m such a rice lover!

  14. Oh I love this rice!!! My mom adds a lot more stuff into her rice, but even just the simple combination of azuki beans and two rice(s) is gorgeous. I didn’t know about using the reserved water…that is smart. :-)

  15. Hey Nami! This reminds me so much of the Southern dish Red beans and rice! Except you use the smaller red beans and different seasoning of course! This is interesting because Chinese people enjoy red bean soup as dessert, though I’ve never had them with rice before, look delicious and such a comfort food!

    I hope you are going to enjoy some normalcy, blogging twice instead of 3 times should hopefully give you some free time to relax and enjoy yourself. Have a good evening!

  16. I did not realize that this rice has 2 different rices…love it with the glutinous rice.
    Beautiful color and so tasty.
    Hope you are having a great day :-)

  17. This looks amazing! It’s so nice that you and your mom made it together and that you were able to spend time together. That is wonderful that you’ll go to Japan and Taiwan this summer. Your children are so lucky!

  18. Malli

    I love the way you’ve served up the dish and instructions. The only time I’ve had Azuki beans was with shaved ice and condensed milk in Honolulu last year… you’ve truly inspired me to cook with them now:) Thanks

  19. CC

    This looks delicious, Nami! And so simple to make as well! It actually reminds me of a chestnut and sweet potato rice I saw on a Japanese blog – have you ever tried that before? They too used glutinous rice.

  20. Mika

    Did you know that Nicaraguan people also eat very similar rice? They also have a dish which is almost look like tonkatsu!

    Hope you guys had a wonderful time with your family!
    Let’s get together very soon!

  21. Dear Namiko-san, arigato gozarimus for the New Year recipe idea! I am having a little gathering this weekend and this will be perfect. I also still have some bento boxes from when we lived in Japan to display (Your’s are beautiful) Ja Mata, BAM

  22. Ira Rodrigues

    the azuki beans really impressed me, because i’ve never know about it. we have japanese shop available in the island and i definitely want to buy it and trying your recipe:) hmm, cant wait!

  23. Nami, reading your posts are educational to me. I have always loved Japanese cuisine and I know they need time and love. Mochi is one Asian dessert I love especially filled with creamy black sesame filling. Yummm.. I have been bookmarking all your lovely recipes, and would really hope that I get to cook them soon for my family. Huggsss

  24. I think every Asian country has its own version of sticky rice and red bean :)). This Japanese lovely version reminds me to the simple one my grandma usually makes; but, we don’t have that kind of short sticky grain hehe (ours is commonly medium long grain ^^). Here, we simply enjoy it with fresh grated medium-ripe coconut flesh mixed with a pinch of salt. Should try your version; gomashio must give special nutty flavor, yuuummm!!! 😀

  25. Ha! I have heard about the tradition but have only tasted red beans in mochi and steamed dumplings so far!
    And may I say how appitizing your presentation looks! Was it your personal idea to serve the rice in a box like in the background of your photos or is it the traditional way?



  26. Nami san, Happy New Year! 明けましておめでとう!

    Congratulations on your blogiversary! It’s amazing that you have been awarded with such a fabulous honor! Sugoi!! Your blog attracts so many hungry-foodies who appreciate your thorough instructions of cooking and stories behind each dish. I, as a Japanese, also learn something valuable and new every time I visit here.

    Sekihan is so delicious! I think sekihan is a special rice for every Japanese. I even like the color of the rice and texture. Celebration with sekihan is the one you would do for your award-winning beautiful blog!


  27. Mmmm! A fun and beautiful way to start the new year :) Sorry to see your mum go but happy it means you’ll be back to full time blogging. And I’m already looking forward to hearing about your summer travels!

  28. I LOVE IT! It is kind of your version of our southern red beans and rice! The beans look amazing and I have never heard of azuki before. I would love to do a twist on our classic red beans and rice and incorporate some of your ingredients here

  29. I don’t usually like anko in my sweets as I find them way too sweet and overpowering. Most mochis I’ve tried in Japan all tasted the same because of the anko. But putting azuki in rice seems like a good idea! I’ve never tried sekihan before, maybe I’ll make some for my Japanese friends to surprise them 😀

  30. As always, you have good eyes on styling and presention of your dish. I love the simplicity and elegance of the colors — Black and Red. That’s kind of bitter-sweet that your mom left for home and you’re back full time on the things that you love to do. I’m glad that you and your family enjoyed the holidays with her. Have a great week, Nami! :)

  31. Karin

    Hello Nami-san! I’m Japanese who lives in small city of Midwest, and my FB friend introduced me your site before, and I’m totally hooked since then! Lots of beautiful Japanese dishes make me feel missing Japan so much.(I haven’t visited there for almost 7 years now..) But I make Osechi for my family every year and we love it!
    Oh I made a 5-3/4qt pot full of Azuki for tsubuan on New Year’s day. I love tsubuan, so I freeze them so I can make dorayaki anytime!(love to get a Taiyaki maker someday!) I totally forgot about Sekihan though. I used up all of my Azuki beans, so I need to buy some for making Sekihan later.
    Anyways, thank you for sharing your beautiful recipes!! :)

    • Hello Karin-san! Thank you for following my blog! You made Osechi? Wow! My husband doesn’t like Osechi and my kids are not into it as well. You are so lucky your family enjoys it with you (although I only have a few favorites and I don’t care the rest). I love tsubuan more than koshian. I had ozenzai after Kagami Biraki. I can eat anything with red bean anytime! We have a Taiyaki shop nearby and I always order anko one (they have nutella, vanilla, and all other kinds). Thank you for writing!

    • Hi Rachel, I have never looked sweet rice in American store, so I can’t guarantee they have it… Maybe Whole Foods might have it. I usually get it in either Asian/Chinese store or Japanese store.

  32. I’m not sure I’ve ever had Azuki beans. Your dish looks spectacular–I’m always so happy to see your posts, because they are continuing my culinary education.

  33. Welcome back – and it sounds like you had a great time off! This looks delicious and I like foods a room temperature – it give the flavors a chance to meld. This looks terrific and it’s nice to see you posting!

  34. Oooh, this is a very enticing dish! I love the Azuki red beans too, and with such a delicious looking bowl of rice, I am sure your year will be filled with lots of blessings, happiness and luck 😀
    Happy New Year to you Nami!~~

  35. I saw one of my officemates had this for lunch a while ago but he ate it on its own, does this rice dish needs to be paired with anything? like a teppanyaki or something else? I wanna try this one out

  36. Dear Nami,

    I have never tried this style of rice since it’s more traditional Japanese and it looks beautiful. My favourite is still the Japanese style garlic fried rice with a healthy dose of diced beans, freshly cracked pepper and egg – so good with some hot sake in winter to end a teppanyaki meal :)

  37. You know how much I love Azuki beans, and this combination with rice is just amazing and very tasty! Love your presentation and photos too..Every time I come you amaze me more and more!!! Thank you for sharing this idea!!!
    Have a lovely day!!!

  38. Hi Nami! I *love* the beautiful vibrant colors in your photos here!! Your items are so beautifully arranged and the pictures are so attractive! I especially love that ring-shaped chopstick holder – it’s so elegant and unique! Excellent find! I’m also glad that you got some time off with the family. You deserve it! I’m not quite back into full swing of things yet (I’ll tell you why later). But I hope to get back into a more regular schedule soon!

  39. These beans are beautiful and so red – I can’t wait to find them and try this recipe. You always come up with so many fun and unique dishes I want to try.

    Glad you had a wonderful vacation and time with family. I too am just now getting back to blogging after vacationing with my family as well.

    Wishing you a Happy, Healthy, New Year!

  40. Glad you were able to spend a nice vacation with your mom. Its always wonderful seeing family when you live so far away from them! Its good to have you back to blogging :) This rice dish looks so wonderful!

  41. I realised too how difficult it is to keep up with my blog when my sister came. I have to start writing down all the new rice dishes I have learned aver the past months. I d love to have a spoonfull of your sekihan, looks very healthy and delicious. my stomache is having troubel these days digesting beans. Do u think your recipe would cause some troubel to my tummy?

  42. It always so sad and emo that wonderful moments have ended but peaks up again knowing another one is near. I’m so excited for you and your family on your coming summer vacations to Japan and Taiwan! 😉

    My favorite red beans! This is a very interesting Azuki beans rice. I only tasted Azuki or red beans in sweet desserts but nothing savory not to mention with rice! I’m so curious with how it tastes like! Mild sweetness and a little savory, sticky… BEST! What is the purpose of draining away the first boiling water of the Azuki beans? Cleaning the beans? My guess… :)

  43. I have actually always wanted to make sekihan for years after I saw the recipe in my Japanese cookbook, but so far I’ve been too lazy ;). Could you also one day feature a recipe for Osechi, Nami? I love to look at those beautiful pictures of Japanese Osechi, I want to make them too, but don’t know how :(.

  44. Hi Nami. Long time no talk. I miss you very much. I’m so glad you had a wonderful time with your mum and family. So happy for you. I love this recipe… in fact I love anything with azuki beans!

  45. Japanese azuki beans are more fragrant and flavourful as compared to Chinese azuki beans. We use them to make Chinese tong sui (sweet dessert). I must try your recipe one day. Looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  46. adrien

    (Not sure my previous comment worked. Sorry if it is a doublon).

    Hi and thank you for this goo website.
    Usualy recipes call for rice to be cooked in a rice cooker or in a pot with water.
    Yet in some books, the rice is laid on a clothe in a bambou steam basket on top of the pot. The rice is then covered with the clothe and during the cooking time some liquid is adding directly on the rice.
    Does this second method have a specific name?
    What are its pro and cons taste wise?
    Thanks a lot!!!

    • Hi Adrien! I didn’t see your first comment, so I’m glad you left another comment again. Sorry about the trouble.

      I’m happy to hear you enjoy my site, and thank you for your kind words. These days rice cooker is pretty high tech that you can make very good sekihan using rice cooker. I’m not very familiar with the method you mentioned. My grandma used to make it with pressure cooker but my mom and I use rice cooker to make sekihan. I’m sorry I cannot be a good help here. Hope you will find out your answer online. :)

  47. gene carvalho

    In your instructions Is this a misprint?

    “Combine both rice into one and wash rice (See Step 1-4 on How To Make Rice). Drain the rice for 30 minutes.”

    or Should this be “soak” the rice for 30 min?

    Thank you

    • Hi Gene! I responded to you via email, but I’m responding again on the comment in case others have a same question.

      For this recipe, I did not soak rice. You could soak rice for 30 minutes and drain for 16-30 minutes. Hope that helps. :)

      Thank you for asking! :)

  48. Liliam (from Brazil)

    This recipe is awesome! I was just looking for the recipe that my grandmother used to make and I found it. Thanks a lot!

  49. Lee

    My japanese mother is no longer able to make this and my kids had been bugging me to find out a recipe. Well, we finally tried it this weekend and thank you so much, we are once again enjoying a favorite dish. I couldn’t believe it was this easy.