Today is Setsubun (the literal meaning is seasonal division) which is the day before the beginning of Spring under the Japanese lunar calendar. It is the day to chase away evil spirits of the previous year and to welcome the new year to come.
There have been different rituasl for Setsubun, but the typical custom in modern days is a bean throwing ceremony which is called mame-maki. You are supposed to throw roasted soybeans out of your house wishing to get rid of evil spirits, and throw them to the inside of your house wishing to welcome good luck to in. Afterwards you should pick up the number of soybeans equal to your age from those that were thrown inside your house; this is said to ensure your health in the coming year..
I don’t practice the bean throwing ceremony here in the US, but I do roast soy beans and eat them wishing for a healthy year to come. Also for an extra treat, I make sugar coated soybeans for kids to enjoy. So as you can imagine, we eat much more than the amount that you are supposed to eat. Hopefully that is a good thing. Even if you don’t celebrate Setsubun, it is worth making these soybeans because they are so tasty and good for you!
Roasted Soy Beans for Setsubun
- soy beans
- salt (optional)
- Rinse soybeans under water, and place in a bowl. Add enough water to cover, and let them soak for about 8 hours. Drain well in a colander.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread soy beans in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned and crispy for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Sprinkle with salt if you would like.
Sugar Coated Roasted Soybeans
- 1 cup roasted soybeans
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoon water
- In a small saucepan, add sugar and water. Let it boil, and add roasted soybeans. Stir constantly until syrup becomes dry and white, for about a minute. Remove from heat.
- Coat with powdered sugar, macha powder (green tea powder) or cocoa powder if you would like.