The most common and popular Japanese sweet filling is “An” (pronounced like “ahn”). It is a sweet tasting paste made from red azuki beans. Many Japanese breads and other sweets, like ice cream and mochi, are filled with this delicious paste. Nowadays, you can buy this paste pre-made at Asian grocery stores but the store-bought versions can be filled with unnecessary preservatives and additives so it’s much better to make it yourself it home! It may seem tiresome to have to do this but it tastes much better and the process is made super simple by using a pressure cooker!
Usually the red azuki beans have to soaked overnight but using the pressure cooker saves you from having to do this so you can save yourself about 8 hours of cooking time. Before you put the azuki beans in the pressure cooker, you can boil the beans for 2 minutes to get rid of the scum that forms on the beans. When the beans are cooking in the pressure cooker, you can turn the heat off when the mixture has thickened. Even if you think it is a bit runny, it will become more solid as it cools down. Once you’ve made your red bean paste, you can save it in the fridge for about a week or you can freeze it and save it for longer. You can use it in many recipes like breads, ice creams, cakes, mochi, and other sweets!
- Wash the azuki beans under running water then put them in a saucepan and bring it to boil over high heat and cook for 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and drain the water.
- Place the azuki beans into a pressure cooker and add 1L of water.
- Lock the lid of the pressure cooker and cook the beans for 15 minutes.
- After the pressure indicator pin rises (according to you pressure cooker) turn the heat off and allow it to cool or let the pressure release naturally by just leaving it aside.
- Take the lid off and add the sugar and salt and mix them well.
- Turn the heat back on medium and reduce the water to thicken it without the lid on.
- Occasionally stir the beans and then once the water has reduced, turn off the heat.