Black Soybeans with Soy Sauce

MAKES: At least 4 servings

TIME: About 2 hours

A popular side dish in Korea and Japan, these are intensely flavored and delicious, with an unusual and wonderfully firm texture.

Other beans you can use: regular soybeans or black beans.

1/2 pound dried black soybeans, soybeans, or black beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like

1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste

2 tablespoons mirin or a little more sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Put the beans in a pot with water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are nearly tender and most of the water is evaporated, at least an hour and probably more. (Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered, but bear in mind that eventually you will want no water at all, so don’t drown them.)

Add the sugar, mirin, and soy and raise the heat a bit. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the beans are glazed and still firm, not quite as tender as you’re used to; leave them quite moist (the soy sauce will burn if the mixture dries out). Stir in the sesame oil.

You can serve the beans immediately, at room temperature, or chilled. Just before serving, toast the sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently until the seeds color slightly. Sprinkle the beans with the seeds and serve.