If you love Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean desserts, you’ve probably tasted Sweet Red Bean Paste at some point and fell in love with its flavor. Commonly known in the western world as Adzuki Bean Paste (or aduki bean paste), Red Bean Paste is usually made of red beans, sugar, and fat of choice. It is the most basic yet most versatile filling in traditional Asian confectionary and pastry. Whether it is used in cakes, pancake sandwiches or mochi desserts, the inside is oozing with deep, sweetened red bean taste that makes you want to crave for more. Especially if it is homemade!
How To Make Red Bean Paste
The good news is that making red bean paste at home is easier than you think! While ready-to-use adzuki bean paste jars are widely available in supermarkets globally, the homemade version will always be superior. Aside from tasting better, you’re assured of a healthy one since there won’t be additives, food coloring agent, and artificial coloring elements. The paste is prepared by boiling the beans, then mashing them. Paste texture depends on personal preference. Some enjoy it rustic and chunky while others prefer it fine or smooth. After mashing, the paste can be sweetened or left as it is.
As the name suggests, the color of the paste exudes a deep red appearance, which comes from the husk of the beans. In Korean cuisine, the adzuki beans (the black variety) can be husked prior to cooking, resulting in a white paste. It is also common to hear about the husk being removed by sieving after cooking, but before sweetening. This way, the red paste is smoother and more homogeneous. However, that’s a lot of physical work involved! Thankfully, food processors exist nowadays and cooked beans can be blended until smooth.
Red Bean Paste in East Asian Cuisine
In Japanese, sweet red bean paste is called An (餡), Anko (餡子) and Ogura (小倉). Anko or An normally refers to a red bean paste that is sweet and mashed. Strictly speaking though, it also refers to other bean paste varieties such as Shiroan (white bean paste) or Kurian, the kind that’s made from chestnuts. The word Azukian (小豆餡) specifically refers to the paste made with red beans (adzuki or azuki).
Similarly, in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine, the terms Dòushā (豆沙) and Hóngdòushā (紅豆沙) are used interchangeably to refer to red bean paste, although the latter explicitly means “red bean paste.”
In Korean, sweetened red bean paste is called Danpat (단팥; “sweet pat”). From the words Dan (단, “sweet”) and Patso (팥소) meaning “pat filling.”
Carob Red Bean Paste
As mentioned above, adzuki bean paste is typically prepared using red beans, sugar, and fat of choice. We remain respectful of that tradition. Where we come in is a homemade red bean paste recipe that people who can’t have refined sugar can actually enjoy. We are retaining the sweetness aspect of this classic filling without completely departing from its history. Instead of refined sugar, we are using organic maple sugar and pure carob syrup.
The outcome is still a delectable adzuki bean paste that is excellent for any type of stuffed pastry or even frozen desserts such as mochi. This recipe is very forgiving in the sense that there isn’t a set of bean-sugar ratio for this paste. The sweetness level can be adjusted based on preference. So add more carob syrup or maple sugar, if preferred. This is perhaps one of the biggest advantages the homemade version has over the store-bought ones, which are notorious for being cloyingly sweet.
Once you master making Danpat, Anko or Hóngdòushā at home, you’ll be able to make a long list of delicious East Asian desserts at home!
Sweet Red Bean Paste Recipe (Carob Anko)
- 1 Food Processor
- 1 cup adzuki beans
- 500 ml water
- 2 tbsps The Australian Carob Co. Carob Syrup
- 2 tbsps pure maple sugar
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
SOAK THE BEANS
- Rinse the adzuki beans then soak them in water overnight.
- Drain then rinse well.
COOK THE BEANS
- Put the soaked beans in a pot. Pour in water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. simmer for 1 1/2 hours until the beans become soft and easy to mash. Make sure to check the water level and add more if necessary to avoid burning.
- Once the beans are cooked, turn off the heat and leave the beans to cool naturally.
MAKE THE BEAN PASTE
- Drain the cooked beans then put into a food processor. A high-speed blender may work too but the outcome may not be as fine or as smooth.
- Add the maple sugar, carob syrup, butter and salt.
- Process until smooth or until the mixture turns into a very fine paste.
- Transfer the puréed beans into a pan. Cook over medium heat while stirring constantly to avoid burning. Once the bean paste appears darker in color and firmer, turn off the heat and allow it to cool a little before transferring into preferred containers.
- Sweet red bean paste can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four (4) days. Optionally, it can be kept in the freezer for 1-2 months.
For more homemade gourmet carob recipes using Australian Carobs, please visit CarobRecipes.com.