November 7, 2013


Azuki to Kabocha no Itoko-ni (Kabocha Squash Cooked with Azuki beans)

Cooking Time: About 60 minutes

This tasty combination of Japanese squash (kabocha, similar to acorn squash) and azuki beans simmered together is a traditional Japanese dish. Customary wisdom that contributes to energy efficiency calls for soaking the beans beforehand and using a small lid that rests directly on the food - an "oshi-buta," literally "press-lid." Oshi-buta lids are usually flat and made of wood, but any lid slightly smaller than the pot's circumference will do.

Eco Energy Point

Using an oshi-buta enhances flavor, helps food keep its shape and shortens cooking time almost by half compared to boiling without a lid. Leaving the dish in the warm pot to finish the cooking process also saves energy.

Ingredients (for 4)

50 grams of azuki beans, dried
400 grams of kabocha squash
3 tablespoons of sugar
800 cc of water
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of soy sauce

(Extra water for soaking and boiling azuki beans)


  1. Soak azuki beans in water, at least for several hours. Bring the azuki beans to a boil in about 800 to 1000 cc of water to 50 grams of beans. Then, drain, add fresh water, and simmer the beans until they are tender. Cut the kabocha into about 3-centimeter-sized pieces.
  2. Put the boiled azuki beans and cut-up kabocha into the pot with sugar, 800 cc of water, soy sauce and salt. Cover with a small lid sitting directly on the food. Simmer on medium heat until it the squash is soft.
  3. Correct seasoning and turn off the heat. Keep the food in the pot for a while to finish off the cooking process.

(Note: Japanese dishes are not necessarily served piping hot.)


Edahiro's Comments

The dish is called "itoko-ni" in Japanese. Itoko means cousin, and ni means boil or cook. Various vegetables can be used, not only azuki beans and kabocha, but also burdock root, daikon (Japanese radish) and tofu, with each vegetable added in order of necessary cooking time In itoko-ni, a variety of vegetables are cooked together, but all are vegetables (with no meat or fish used), so the relationship is compared to that of cousins.
Originally, Itoko-ni's ingredients consisted of vegetables, etc., which had been given as offerings to the gods in Shinto shrines, etc. In olden days, people cooked these offerings on special occasions such as the mid-summer Bon holiday, on New Year's Day and other festivals. Nowadays it is an everyday dish cooked at home.
The combination of azuki beans and kabocha is especially good because both of them are sweet but not too sweet. This dish goes well with Japanese green tea. Kabocha and azuki beans can be replaced with other vegetables, too. Please try the recipe with beans and vegetables grown locally in your country.

(Note: Azuki beans are small, about half the size of pinto beans. Please adjust soaking and cooking times to the size beans you are using.)


This recipe is adopted from the "Eco-Cooking" website by Tokyo Gas Co.


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