Red bean paste is a sweet bean paste made from azuki beans. It is used as a filling for many Japanese sweets. It requires only 2 ingredients and is easy to make. I am going to explain an easy way to make this delicious paste, including some special tips.
What is Red bean paste (Anko)?
Red bean paste is simply made from cooked adzuki beans and sugar. It is a sweet bean paste and used in fillings of Japanese sweets such as Anpan, Ichigo(strawberry) Daifuku, Sakura mochi, Yomogi dango and red bean ice cream popsicles. They are called An(餡)or Anko(餡子) in Japanese.
What are Adzuki beans?
Adzuki beans are also known as Azuki or Aduki beans or red mung beans. They are a small bean cultivated in Asia. In Japan, there are two types of Adzuki beans in terms of size; ordinary adzuki and Dainagon. Dainagon is bigger and about 5.5mm(0.2 inch) in diameter. You can get ordinary Adzuki Beans from Asian grocery stores and online.
2 types of Red Bean Paste
There are two types of these beans; Tsubu-an and Koshi-an. They translate to Mashed coarse bean paste and Sieved smooth bean paste.
How to make Tsubu-an?
Basically, soak the beans overnight, then cook the beans and drain the water. Then repeat and change the cooking water three times in order to remove astringency. Finally then drain completely, add sugar and reduce it. Even though the translated name means mashed, there is no need to actually mash the cooked beans.
How to make Koshi-an?
The basic method of making bean paste is the same. However, there is one simple step that is different. To make a puree we use a fine sieve. After the cooking is complete use a Japanese kitchen cloth to strain the beans. This is a time-consuming process so nowadays we use food processors to speed it up.
Time saver “Pressure Cooker”
You can save time to cook red beans by using a pressure cooker. Wash the beans and cook it for 15 minutes in simmering water. Drain the cooking water and add clean water and repeat the same to remove astringency. Then drain the water again and add just enough water to cover the beans and cook in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes. Drain the water, add sugar and the rest is same.
Sugar and ratio to make the bean paste
Original recipes use a Japanese sugar called “Johakuto”. It is available from Japanese grocery stores however it is pricy compare to caster sugar. The difference is Johakuto melts easier than Caster sugar. I actually use caster sugar and it seems to work just fine. The recipe uses a ratio close one to one.
How to store & how long do they keep?
Keep the paste in an airtight container. It will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge and about a month in the freezer. If possible divide the paste into the amount that you would use at a time or score them like the above photo.
Tips for perfect Red bean paste
1. Remove astringency
Bring the water to boil and cook the soaked beans for about 15 minutes. Drain the cooking water and add clean cups of water. Repeat this process 3 times in order to remove astringency.
2. Kneading with a wooden spatula
After you add sugar to the cooked beans, sugar melts and beans will be glossy. You need to keep kneading with a wooden spatula consistently until the glossiness disappears. That is the time to turn the heat off.
3. Cooling the red bean paste
Cool the paste immediately after the heat turned off. Because of the residual heat, the paste will continue to cook in the pot. So it is important to place the cooked paste on a stainless steel tray.
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- 200 g Dry Adzuki Beans
- 200 g sugar
- Water to cook beans
Tsubu-an (mashed red bean paste)
- Wash the adzuki beans and soaked it overnight.
- Drain the soaking water and place adzuki beans in a large pot. Cook it over high heat and bring it to boil.
- Turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and drain the cooking water. Put the beans back into the pot and add clean water and repeat the same process two more times. *2
- Remove the pot from heat and drain the cooking water completely using a strainer.
- Put cooked beans back in the pot and add sugar.
- Stir them all together with a wooden spatula. It will be a little runny and glossy when the sugar melts.
- Keep kneading with the wooden spatula. It will become thicker as the liquid evaporates.
- When the paste loses its glossiness, turn the heat off.
- Scoop out the paste onto a stainless steel tray to cool.
Koshi-an (Smooth red bean paste)
- First 5 steps are same.
- Before adding the sugar, place the cooked beans in a food processor and blitz them.
- Put them back into the pot and add sugar.
- Keep stirring and kneading as it gets thicker with a wooden spatula.
- When it loses the glossiness and becomes thicker, turn the heat off and cool on a stainless steel tray.