Sekihan (Japanese Azuki Beans & Rice) 赤飯

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  • Sekihan in a bowl and a soup bowl on a side.

    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 in a rice bowl and a box container.
    Sekihan 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 in a red bowl and a soup bowl on a red tray.

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    5 from 1 vote
    Sekihan (Japanese Azuki Beans & Rice)
    Prep Time
    30 mins
    Cook Time
    35 mins
    Total Time
    9 hrs 5 mins
    Sekihan 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.
    Course: Main Course, Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: red bean rice, sweet rice
    Servings: 5
    Author: Nami
    1. Gather all the ingredients.  

      Sekihan Ingredients
    2. Wash azuki beans and soak for half day (over night).

    3. Combine both rice into a bowl and wash rice (See Step 1-4 on How To Make Rice). Drain the rice for 30 minutes.
    4. 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.
      Sekihan 1
    5. Once it boils, turn off the heat and transfer the beans into a sieve to drain water.
    6. Put azuki beans back in the pot and add 2½ 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.
      Sekihan 2
    7. 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.
      Sekihan 3
    8. Add rice into the rice cooker bowl. Pour the reserved water in the rice cooker bowl until 3 cups line for Sweet Rice (or little bit below 3 cups line for White Rice if you don’t have Sweet Rice option). If you don’t have enough reserved water, add water to make it to 3 cups. Then add beans and salt. Mix and start cooking.

    9. 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 Notes

    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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