Sekihan (Japanese: 赤飯), literally red rice, is a Japanese traditional dish. It is sticky rice steamed with azuki beans, which give a reddish color to the rice, hence its name.
It is usually eaten immediately after cooking but it may also be eaten at room temperature, such as in a celebratory bento (boxed lunch). Sekihan is great served warm right out of the rice cooker with gomashio (a mixture of lightly toasted sesame and salt).
Sekihan is often served on special occasions throughout the year in Japan, for example, birthdays, weddings and some holidays, such as Shichi-Go-San. The azuki beans which are part of this dish are considered to be a symbol of good luck and fertility.
Sekihan is so strongly connected with celebration that the phrase "Let's have sekihan" has acquired the meaning "Let's celebrate." It is believed that sekihan is used for celebrations because of its red color, symbolic of happiness in Japan. In some areas, it is made when a young woman has her menarche, suggesting another source of the tradition.
In Tokyo this dish is served on special occasions, being considered a traditional Japanese food that is strongly tied to a festival or event.
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Sekihan (Japanese Red Bean Rice) for Project Pink, www.lovelylanvin.com
Japanese basics: Osekihan (Sekihan), Festive Japanese Red Rice and Beans, www.justhungry.com