Japanese Traditional New Year Dish - Kuro Mame

December 20, 2018

As part of our Chefs focus feature we bring you a traditional recipe for Kuro mame (Black beans)This recipe comes from Naoko, our friend, Japanese food artist and teacher over at Naoko's Kitchen is in Truro Cornwall, where she teaches authentic Japanese home style cooking and children’s baking.

Kuro Mame Recipe

Kuro Mame

As part of our recipe feature for traditional Japanese food that is eaten in the new year, with help from our friend Naoko, In this second blog, we look at Kuro Mame which literally translates to 'black beans'. Kuro mame is part of the Osechi-ryori which is also to be eaten during the first three days of January along with Ebi No Onigara yaki. Each part of this dish had a meaning behind it.

Kuro Mame are black soy beans that are simmered in sugar and soy sauce. Aside from being full of nutrients, this dish also symbolises hard work and good health as the word 'mame' also has a different meaning in the Japanese language. Besides meaning bean, 'mame' is sometimes used to mean small. The meaning is that you are able to take care of the intricate details in life, while working or for your own benefit. It is a very simple dish that represents many hopes and wishes for the years ahead.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 200g Black beans
  • Water
  • 200g Brown cane sugar
  • 40g Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate soda


  1. Hydrate the black beans

Wash with running water. Put the black beans and water in a deep stew pan (an iron stew pan is ideal) and completely soak the beans.

Add cane sugar, soy sauce, sea salt and bicarbonate soda, and bring to boil on high heat.  

Remove from the heat and put the lid on and leave at room temperature over night.

  1. Simmer 

Remove the lid and simmer on middle heat until the beans turn to be tender for 30 minutes around. If the moisture evaporate before the beans are cooked, add some water.

Once you make this, you can keep this for one week in a fridge.  

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