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New Year's good-luck dish utilizes beans, chestnuts

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 8:25 p.m. HST, Nov 21, 2014

A recipe for New Year's good luck came to me in the form of an unsigned recipe from the Ozawa family in Mili­lani. It's a slow-cooker recipe for a traditional Japa­nese holiday dish, kuro­mame, or sweet black beans.

Plump, dried soybeans are usually simmered for hours in a soy-sugar sauce, closely watched to prevent scorching or boiling over. With a Crock-Pot you can walk away. Cook the beans while you sleep, even.

Kuromame is among "osechi ryori," or good-luck dishes served to ring in the new year. The beans specifically are tied to good health. This recipe also calls for dried chestnuts, believed to bring added luck.

The dried beans and chestnuts may not be available in your neighborhood supermarket. Try a Japa­nese market.


3 cups dried kuromame (black soybeans)
12 cups water, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup dried kuri (chestnuts)

Rinse black beans and combine with 6 cups water in slow cooker.

Bring remaining 6 cups water to boil in pot on stove. Add baking soda, sugar, salt and soy sauce; stir to dissolve dry ingredients. Add liquid to beans in slow cooker. Turn to high and cook until simmering (at least 1 hour), then reduce heat to low. Cook 6 hours (or skip the simmering step and simply cook 8 hours on low).

Meanwhile, soak chestnuts in water 30-40 minutes. Drain and remove any remnants of husk (these dark brown strips may be wedged into the wrinkles of the chestnut; pry out with tip of knife).

Add chestnuts to beans in slow cooker and cook an additional 3-4 hours, until chestnuts are soft enough to be pierced with a toothpick. Makes about 4 pints.

Approximate nutritional information, per 1/2 cup serving: 230 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 1000 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 32 g sugar, 8 g protein


New Year's Eve is the deadline for ordering this year's "By Request" Top 5 recipes of 2013. This is how it works: You send me $5, and I send you all five recipes. The money goes to the Star-Advertiser's holiday charity. Enclose one self-addressed, stamped, legal-size envelope (4-by-9-1/2 inches) for each set of recipes you're ordering (for example, for three sets send $15 and three envelopes). Make checks payable to the Good Neighbor Fund. Mail to "By Request" top recipes, Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Hono­lulu, HI 96913.

The recipes: Hisago Delicatessen Teri-Burger with Ramen Buns, Blue Ginger Cafe Chop Steak, Queen's Hospital Salmon with Lemon Miso Sauce, Aikahi School Chocolate Shortbread Cookies and Super Easy Fruit Sherbet.

Since Thanksgiving, this recipe benefit has raised about $8,500 for needy local families. Many people sent in donations beyond the cost of the recipes, from an extra dollar to $200.

Some also enclosed notes, including Debbie Leong, who wrote of a special connection to one of the recipes, the Queen's salmon dish. Her story proves that food indeed makes powerful emotional connections. Her mother, Melvia Nugent, was a 1958 graduate of the Queen's nursing school, and many years later, during her final illness, she was a patient at the hospital.

"One of the last meals she ate and truly enjoyed was the Lemon Miso Salmon. Thank you for sharing this recipe — each time I make it I will have fond and happy memories of my mom."


Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write “By Request,” Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email requests to

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