Today is the winter solstice. What do you do on this day in your contries? In Japan, there are two practices.
One is to take a “yuzu-bath” – putting several yuzu fruits in a bath, which is said to prevent cold and flu.
Another practice is to eat food which names include the sound of “n” to bring “un (luck)” – namely, nankin (kabocha = pumpkin), undon (udon= noodle), renkon (lotus root), ninjin (carrot), kinkan (Kumquat), ginnan (ginkgo nut ) and kanten (agar). Among them, the representative one is pumpkin. It is said that, in the old days when it wasn’t so easy to secure food in winter, they kept pumpkins they grew in summer and start eating them on this day.
So today, I made kabocha–zenzai (sweet bean soup recipe with pumpkin). Here’s how to.
- Make anko (sweet bean paste). Wash beans, add them and cold water in a pod. Once it’s boiled, throw away hot water. Add cold water (4 times the amount of the weight of beans) in the pod again. Simmer for an hour. When the beans become soft enough, flavor with sugar and add a pinch of salt. *If it becomes too thick while cooking, add extra water.
- Cut the pumpkin into bite-sizes. Microwave (or steam) them till soft.
- Serve in a bowl.