Red Bean Paste
Adzuki bean paste, and the beautiful desserts it graces, are an acquired taste. However, it is not difficult to acquire this taste very quickly! This red bean paste is used throughout Asia to fill breads and mochi, and for pastries and candies. In Japan and Korea, adzuki (a.k.a. azuki) are the beans most commonly used, second only to soy. Red bean paste is preferred over chocolate. Once you begin eating foods made with this paste, it can get addictive.
Full disclosure! There is a LOT of sugar in this paste, although the ratio of sugar to beans is probably as varied as are the cooks who prepare this dish. In my home, we use raw sugar or ground pure cane sugar, in moderation… at least moderation is always the goal. No doubt, I will revisit this dish with other sweeteners – brown rice or barley syrup, maple, honey, agave, maybe even dates… hmm.
This week, I will be posting LOTS of ideas for using this delicious ingredient. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, you can purchase red beans at an Asian market, or online. You can buy them canned, as well. I like dried beans.
How to Make Sweet Red Adzuki Bean Paste – Anko
The night before you plan to make Red Bean Paste, soak your beans in water, preferably spring water, overnight.
Place red adzuki beans into a pot, covering beans with water (not hot water). Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Cover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Drain beans and discard cooking water.
Return beans to the pot and cover with fresh water.
Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. And cook until beans are tender. Add water, as needed (if needed).
When beans are tender, cook down until there is just a little water left in the pot, begin adding in sugar gradually. Stir and combine, dissolving sugar.
Continue cooking until water is cooked out and you have a paste.
Mash up beans anyway you like. Leave your paste chunky or puree very smooth. If preferred, use a very fine mesh sieve to remove skins for a very smooth puree. This is a matter of personal choice and how you intend to use your paste.
It is done when it is, well, pasty. You should be able to move paste with a spoon and see the bottom of the pot. This batch is almost done.
Remove from the pot and cool. Refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to use. Or freeze in small batches.
Use, as needed, for a variety of desserts and dishes!
Sweet Red Adzuki Bean Paste – Anko
- 1 cup dried adzuki beans
- 3/4 cup cane sugar
Place beans in water, in a bowl or mason jar, in the refrigerator to soak overnight.
Place soaked red adzuki beans into a pot, covering beans with water (not hot water) by about an inch over level of beans. Bring to boil. Turn off heat. Cover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, drain beans and discard cooking water.
Return beans to the pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. And cook until beans are tender. Add water, as needed (if needed). Beans will double in size.
When beans are tender, leaving a little water in the pot, begin adding in sugar gradually. Stir and combine, dissolving sugar. Add just a little at a time, in case you would like less, or more, sugar. Taste as you go. Continue cooking until water is cooked out and you have a paste.
At this point, choose what texture you would like, based on how you would like to use your paste. For a very smooth paste, run beans through a fine sieve, removing skins. For a smooth paste, use a blender or food processor to puree beans. Or, leave it chunky.
Remove from the pot and cool. Refrigerate. Red bean paste also freezes very well. Freeze in portions.
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