Toasted soybeans are a popular protein-rich snack in Japan, and sweet simmered black soybeans, or kuromame, is a celebratory food eaten on New Year’s Day as part of osechi-ryōri. This granola unites the spirit of both. Like many Japanese baked goods, it’s not too sweet. This one uses maple syrup, molasses, and soy sauce, which, combined, lend it a slightly salty, malty sweetness that echoes the earthiness of the soybeans and recalls another Japanese ingredient that can be harder to come by, Okinawanan black sugar. Eat it straight, sprinkle it over yogurt with lemon zest, or try it the way a friend in Tokyo eats it: with milk and kinako, toasted soybean powder.
This recipe is inspired by Sonoko Sakai’s Homemade Granola with Lucky Beans, from her book Japanese Home Cooking, and it can also be made with regular soybeans. Dried soybeans can be found in most Japanese and Korean supermarkets, and online.
- Soak the soybeans in 6 cups water overnight, or for 8 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Drain the soybeans thoroughly and spread them on the sheet in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake the soybeans for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until they are lightly toasted. (If using black soybeans, it will be hard to judge doneness by color, so toast until they're crunchy.)
- Allow to cool completely on the sheet before storing in a sealed container for up to four weeks.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut chips, sesame seeds, and salt.
- Using a single measuring cup, measure out the olive oil and soy sauce and pour it into the oat mixture, then measure the maple syrup and molasses (the ratio is flexible, but should total ½ cup of sweetener) into the oat mixture. (This will help the maple syrup and molasses slide out of the measuring cup more easily.)
- Stir thoroughly so all the ingredients are coated.
- Spread the mix on the baking sheet to about ½-inch thickness, taking care that the edges don't get too thin.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, flipping the sheet after 15 minutes, until the coconut flakes have toasted but are not yet dark brown. If you like your granola chunky, there is no need to stir, but if you prefer a finer texture, stir the mix around after 15 minutes to break it up.
- Allow to cool completely on the sheet.
- Break up the granola to desired chunkiness and stir in the roasted soybeans.
- Store in a sealed container for up to three weeks.
Katie Okamoto is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Formerly, she was the senior editor at Metropolis, the architecture and design magazine, in New York City.