INGREDIENTS

2 cups kuromame
170 grams sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
4" square of kombu (optional)

Kuromame (sweet simmered black soybeans)

These sweet black soybeans are available laready preparred during New Years, but they tend to be expensive and are widely loved by my family and friends, so I usually make a big batch for the Oshogatsu feast. They are quite sweet, and are sort of akin to a dessert, although they are eaten during, no atfer, the meal.

Clean, then soak beans in 5 cups of water for at least 7-8 hours or overnight.

Discard water and replace with fresh water to cover in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, uncovered, skimming away any resulting foam. When it is at a roiling boil, quickly add 1/2 cup of cold water. This "scares" the beans and results in a softer texture.

Repeat 3 more times as the beans come to a boil, and then reduce the burner to a low simmer. Cook the beans, uncovered, for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally to keep any beans at the bottom from sticking, adding more water when necessary.

When the beans are soft, add the sugar, salt and soy sauce. Simmer until the flavors are combined.

Cool to room temperature. The beans should be soft and glossy, the liquid, syrup-like. They can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

Serve in communal bowls at room temperature.

Variation: For added depth, I like to add a few squares of kombu (left over from making dashi) to the beans. These pratically melt away during the cooking process.

Serves 8-12