Stewed Soybeans

Mr. Tess made a lovely garbonzo bean soup with potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and some “secret” ingredients. It was luxurious with a dollop of sour cream.

His soup got me thinking about the humble hardiness of beans and how they satisfy a desire for homey comfort. They are easy to cook, soaking and simmering without much attention from the cook, and yet they can be seasoned in all the variety of cuisines around the world.

I found a recipe for simmered soybeans, Japanese style, online and began to gather the ingredients. I found hijiki, a dramatic black sea-vegetable (allright, it’s seaweed), carrots, dried shiitake, and the usual suspects: saké, mirin, shoyu, and sugar.

My bag of soybeans was missing! Had I simply left them at the old place? (yes, we are still moving house…) Was my memory slipping?

Well, this was an opportunity to pop over the huge pan Asian store down the street. Hua Xing Asian Market was a car-dealership before it opened in 2004 as the giant supermarket of Asian groceries in S.E.Michigan. Where once sparkling new cars were spotlit on shining black granite floors, there are now aisles of nearly floor to ceiling shelves of such a variety of canned, dried, and preserved foods that the mind boggles. I saw a 20 pound bag of dried shiitake: consider how big that bag was, what with dried mushrooms being so lightweight. There were huge dried lotus leaves, more noodle varieties than one could try in a lifetime, fish swimming in big tanks (in the past I’ve seen turtles and frogs as well), huge cases of frozen fish, dumplings, cakes, fruit, and a whole refrigerated room with some nice looking fresh vegetables, including fresh lotus root which is difficult to find. If you want to check ingredients in a package, bring a flashlight (and a magnifying glass) because the light from the spotlights is blocked by the shelves…

Anyway, I found a package of soybeans, and a package of shirataki noodles and escaped without buying any of the other tempting goods—it’s one of three Asian markets I pass going to and from work.

Oh, and that package of soybeans I couldn’t find? My memory is slipping. I’d used them only a little bit ago to make simmered soybeans! he he! proves that this is a meal I really enjoy even if I forget that I’ve cooked it recently…

———Dried Soybeans———
———Hijiki: a sea vegetable———
———Shirataki Noodles———

Stewed Soybeans with Shiritaki
Nimame no Shirataki

  • 1 cup dry soybeans, rinsed and soaked in 1 quart of water overnight (12 hours), drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup carrot, cut into small dice
  • ½ oz dry hijiki seaweed, rehydrated and rinsed
  • ½ pound shirataki (konnyaku) noodles, rinsed and cut into bite-size length
  • 4 dry shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, stems removed, cut into small dice
  • 1 cup of the water used for rehydrating the dried shiitake
  • ¼ cup sake
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce

Bring the soybeans and water to a boil over high heat in a pot. As soon as the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to simmer. Skim any floating bean shells and scum as necessary. Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beans are tender crisp. (This actually took more like 1½ hours, but my soybeans may have been very dry.)
Drain and rinse the beans with warm water.
In a big pot, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. (if you have a nabe, this recipe is an opportunity to use it)
Add the cooked soybeans, carrot, hijiki, shrataki, and shiitake mushrooms. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add the dashi stock, sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce.
Bring to boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Use an otoshi buta (落し蓋), a Japanese cedar pot lid which floats on the contents of your pot.  Or line the inside of a well fitting pot-lid with a piece of crumpled parchment paper or aluminum foil so that condensing steam drips back into the pot.
Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beans are very tender.
Turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.

These beans are even better if you can make them the day before to allow the flavors to meld.  Reheat to serve.

21 thoughts on “Stewed Soybeans

  1. Tess, I tried to leave a comment earlier, but I think my connection was lost right when I submitted – if you get a double comment from me, please delete one :-)

    I just saw today a show on FoodTV that mentioned shirataki noodles, and I am quite interested, I did not know they were so low in calories – I hope I can find some in grocery stores here to try

    loved this post!

    • Hi Sally,
      WordPress has been playing behind the scenes with things, including comments. So your comment was not doubled here, but even I have gotten confused and signed in as “gracie” another account of mine. Sometimes the comment you make sort of sticks around whether you have published it or not. I think they all will fix it soon.


      The shirataki noodles are interesting. The ones I used here are made with tofu, so they have a few more calories than the konyaku sort which are more old fashioned. but still, quite cheap in terms of calories.

      This is the first time I’ve actually eaten them: I don’t like konyaku very much so I was hesitant to try these. But they are pretty much ok. They won’t fool you that they are real Italian or wheat based noodles, but they are not too bad. Remember that I am a real pasta lover so this endorsement is good. They won’t fool you, but they are ok.

      These noodles are available in all the groceries around here so I’m thinking you can find them where you are. Have you gotten back to OK (Oklahoma)?

      Give them a try and let me know what you think of them. I’m curious.

      I still remember your recipe for Brazilian beans. I should show it to Mr. Tess: simple, but so good.

      • Yes, Tess – we are back in OK for a little over 1 week now, still struggling with net connections and cable at home, and a few other problems, but things are progressing smoothly. Good to be home in a normal-sized kitchen, I can tell you that! ;-)

        • When we first started this unending move to the new place it was sort of fun to cook with only a few pots and dishes—having restrictions made for some creativity. And there is much to be said for keeping things simple in cooking. But I’ll admit that my kitchen equipment migrated over here in the early days. It is nice to have a lovely well equipped kitchen…

  2. Tess, I have never cooked or simmered soy beans (the only thing I did several times was okara, in other words I made soy milk, but okara was the goal). I also adore the konnyaku noodles! How could I not love the almost 0 calories noodles, which are also very healthy according to the Japanese shop assistant? In short, your dish makes me feel like change all the meal plans for today! (I even have hijiki somewhere, I have never used it). We shall see if I have the courage to simmer (it’s quite hot today)…
    I would love so much to have such a huge Asian supermarket. Mine are rather very small and packed, but I shouldn’t complain.
    I cannot imagine the 20 pounds shiitake bag! On the other hand I must admit I have bought the other day a 500g shaved bonito bag. It was huge and very expensive (as a one-time buy), but the only one with the big bonito pieces and I wanted the big shaved pieces…

    • Do you keep your katsubushi (bonito) in the fridge? I do, but don’t know if it’s necessary. My fridge has a drawer in the middle shelf on one side so there is a low space below on the bottom shelf, about tall enough for cans of soda or beer. It is the full depth of the fridge and the sort of place where things in back could easily be forgotten. It’s the perfect space for my katsubushi—it’s bulky so it prevents me from putting almost empty jars of condiments, weird leftovers, and stuff that accumulated at the back of the fridge in the old house.

      As for simmering, you can use a slow-cooker crock pot so you don’t generate much heat. My glass-top stove has an amazingly low setting so I just did these on the stove. But since one doesn’t have to watch them cooking, one does not have to stay in the kitchen.

      Making tofu is on my list of things to do. I noticed that the big store carries soy milk from a local company which makes tofu so I think I can just start with that? We’ll see. I bought and used okara once, but didn’t really care for it…

      • Tess, I don’t keep it in the fridge. The 500 g bag would take more than half of one shelf! My fridge is always so full I desperately seek for products I can keep out of the fridge… (I don’t have the space you talk about). I have learnt it should be kept in a dry place, so it is in a huge box (I bought once a disgusting Italian panettone, very industrial and sweet, only because of the beautiful huge metal box it was in… the box matches my kitchen colours and now it contains the huge katsuobushi bag).
        I don’t have a slow cooker.
        I also wanted to make my own tofu. Making soy milk and okara was very easy, I have bought some nigari to make tofu but still haven’t tested it. I only tested okara in a cake. It is a very healthy fat or/and flour partial substitute.

        • Yes, making tofu! I think it will take a bit of time and planning since I don’t necessarily have all the equipment to do it. Though Ms. Shimbo’s book makes it sound very do-able. I bought nigari (twice!!)

          I’m picturing your beautiful tin from Italy holding your bonito flakes. I’ve seen such tins around here at Christmas, but have never bought one (commercial panettone). The place I work, we get such things in after the holidays and they are lovely.

          American refrigerators are big, but I have a tendency to buy too much, and things get “forgotten” and have to be tossed away. Or they make a mess, the little bits of leftovers and condiments. Who can see to the back of low shelves 28 inches (71 cm) back? Big may not always be efficient?

          I just wondered, because different books and sites recommend different storage methods.

          • The American fridges are called “American fridges” in Europe ;-) (they have two sets of doors?) and are horribly expensive.
            Your book sounds more and more seducing. I have just bought several cookery books, so will wait a bit, but it’s already on my wish list.

            • Well, there are a number of door configurations 2 or even 3 and sizes for “American fridges.” They are all big, unless you buy one designed for a rental apartment. Even the ones in long-stay hotels are usually fairly large. Not always, but usually. There are doors for the refrigerator and for the freezer part.
              Yes, they are not cheap. But for home units they usually include auto-defrost for the freezer part. So frost does not build up.
              I’m interested in what refrigerators look like in other countries. Should I do a post about my fridge and ask people to show me theirs? The way one can store foods has a big influence on how one shops and cooks..

              At any rate, Hiroko Shimbo’s book is very good. Some recipes add to traditional Japanese recipes—if you read older posts of mine, or better read her blog, then you’ll understand that her childhood family was very much influenced by French cooking. Her book was critisized in a few reviews because she included some “non-traditional” Japanese recipes.

              But she is writing about home cooking (a dying art’) and about making good food.
              I don’t think you’d be disappointed with her book.

              • Tess, you have convinced me. I will buy her book!
                It’s a good idea to talk about the food storage in general. People have so many different ways to do this. I would be very itnerested to see what people keep/don’t keep in the fridge. You said you keep katsuobushi there, and me not. Since my fridge is too small with a tiny freezer (we live in a rented flat and every year I promise myself we will buy a second fridge with a huge freezer), but people who don’t cook a lot or don’t keep 20 open sauce jars, 6 different misos, etc. would think our fridge is enough for two! Every time I go to a big shop I stop and dream in front of the American fridges, as if it was an expensive pair of shoes ;-)
                Since our fridge is too small, I always try to see what I can store outside of the fridge and I stopped putting eggs in the fridge several years ago. They never refrigderate them in shops, why should I? I was never ill because of this and I even made things with raw eggs (tiramisu, etc.).

                • Sissi, I hope you enjoy Ms. Shimbo’s book! It inspired me to start this blog. She will be coming out with another book soon, using Japanese cooking techniques and flavors with foods she has found in NYC. I didn’t buy her second book about sushi, though it is on my list just because I have so enjoyed this book.

                  That’s an idea: I should do a post about my fridge. It really is too big for just the 2 of us, and it eats a lot of electricity, makes lots of noise, and takes up lots of space. But I am proud that messy-me has been able to avoid the pitfalls of the past 30 years of saving stuff we will never use.

                  Dunno about the eggs here in the U.S. I think they are grown and processed differently from the way they are done in other countries. There seem to be quite a number of cases of salmonella from eggs here. I didn’t used to worry, but now I sometimes even wash eggs before frying them…

                  • Tess, I am not a specialist, but a close family member, who is a doctor told me it’s dangerous to wash eggs before cooking, since the porous shell becomes more prone to bacteria transfer when washed and washing will not destroy salmonella… She has also told me I shouldn’t worry about salmonella as long as I wash my hands before and after manipulating eggs since salmonella is brought by the hands of the cook. I have no idea if she is right, but I trust her.
                    I don’t know if you buy organic eggs, but here organic eggs are never washed, they have bits of feathers stuck to them etc., even in the big supermarkets. If it was necessary or good to wash them, they would be washed already at the farm (the supermarkets have very high hygiene requirements). Of course the battery hens’ eggs are clean because of the way the animals are reared.
                    How I envy you having a fridge which is too big… Great idea of the “fridge post”!

    • Hi Yaelian,
      My husband like the shiratake noodles more than I did. Guess I am a pasta snob: love my noodles!
      I wonder if you could find harusame—bean thread noodles, or rice noodles. Not calorie-free, but the texture might be similar. Or if you can find konyaku (mountain yam cake), you could slice that into noodles. Actually, I think that was what shirataki noodle were before they were marketed as noodles. The other soybean recipe I made didn’t have the noodles, though, and it was good too. simmered soybeans!

      • I “think” that I commented on one of your blogs but now can’t find you???

        Though my grandparents were Finnish, I do not speak the language…

  3. Hi Tess,

    I’ve ordered the ingredients for this dish. Can’t get those noodles anywhere though, so I’ve gone with Udon, mainly because I like them. Otherwise I’ve got everything, or will have when it arrives.

    I’ve also made a version of Mr. Tess’s Garbanzo, potato and rosemary soup (but thicker, more of a stew), about which there’ll be a blog post shortly. As I’ve no idea what his secret ingredients were, I’ve done my own thing, as you’ll see in the post.


  4. I’m not sure the shirataki noodles were really traditionally made: something newish in Japan, and certainly the U.S. Originally they were made from konnyaku.
    Actually, here is an authoritative article about them:
    Personally, I’d have preferred udon. The texture of konnyaku just doesn’t appeal to me. Just my opinion, though.

    J’s soup (he made it twice) included saffron once (but it was a bit old so the flavor didn’t come through) and cilantro another time. Both good. Look forward to your version. ≥^!^≤

  5. Sometimes simplification means making more: a soup like that can be frozen for many meals even while the initial preparation is difficult, involved, difficult. But if you can get 5 meals from one day of intense work then overall it is simple per meal, easy over the average?

    Smoked Spanish paprika, though: mmmm

  6. Pingback: Inspired Dishes « Live2EatEat2Live Blog

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