Red bean (紅豆) is also called azuki bean. It is a very common ingredient in Asian. Most of the time, red bean is used in desserts, like red bean soup, dorayaki, red bean pudding, and red bean glutinous rice dumplings. If you are not familiar with red bean, you may think it is weird to have beans in desserts. However once you get over that idea and try some red bean desserts, you will change your mind! Red bean paste (豆沙) is a great introduction to red bean. It is sweet and creamy. It is usually used as filling for sweet dumplings or cakes. No one will notice it is made from beans if you don’t tell. 😉
There are two types of red bean paste, mashed and smooth. In a mashed version, the beans were mashed roughly. Whole beans and broken beans can be seen throughout the paste. A smooth one is creamy with a smooth texture. The traditional way is to finely mash the beans and pass through a sieve to remove the bean skins. For an easy shortcut, some people puree the beans until smooth. That is what I did. Compare to the mashed one, smooth red bean paste requires a little more work and time. I am a huge fan of the smooth paste, so I think it is worth the hassle. But it really comes down to personal choice.
To make a smooth red bean paste, you only need 4 ingredients. The steps are fairly simple. Bring the red beans and water to a boil. Cook low and slow for about an hour. Then blend the beans until smooth. Return them a pan with a little oil and sugar, and cook until thicken. The paste can be store in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a month. Easy, right? And it tastes incredible too!
Next week, I will share a Chinese New Year dessert recipe that are made with red bean paste. Stay tuned!
Smooth Red Bean Paste
About 4 cups
– 2 cups dried red beans (azuki beans)
– 1½ cup sugar
– 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
– pinch of salt
- Rinse and wash the beans. Place them in a large bowl. Add water till 2-inch above the beans. Soak overnight or even longer.
- Rinse the beans again. Transfer the beans to a large pot. Add 7 cups water. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce to medium-low heat. Cover with a lid. Cook for until the beans are cooked, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Turn the heat off.
- Remove 1½ cup liquid from the pot and set aside. Drain the beans. Add 1/3 of the beans and 1/2 cup reserved liquid to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer the puree to a large bowl. Repeat with the rest of the beans and liquid.
- In a wok or large pan over medium low heat, warm up 2 tablespoons oil. Return the bean puree to the wok. Add 1 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust with more sugar to your liking. Cook until the puree thicken to almost a paste and slightly darken, stirring often, about 30 – 45 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the paste cool. The paste will continue to thicken.
- Use the paste once cooled. If not using immediately, transfer the paste to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for 1 month.
- Don’t confuse red bean with kidney beans. They are completely different.
- Get red beans in Asian supermarkets or Amazon.
- To test whether the bean is cooked, take 1 out. Squeeze with your fingers. If it can be mashed easily, the beans are ready.
(Adapted from Christine’s Recipes)
I love when you simplify and demystify recipes like this for me. It always sounds so hard but you make it easy. I love, love all red bean-filled baked goods, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing how you use it (though I also just want a spoon to dig into the bowl)!
Thank you so much, Monica! Making red bean paste is easier than I thought. Nothing tricky. My favorite red bean food is Chinese steamed red bean bun. Can’t have enough of those. I will be posting a red bean dessert recipe on Sunday. 😉 Have a good weekend!
Demystified indeed 🙂
Last weekend I finally stopped at the 99 Ranch Market near my dentist’s office. I picked up a red bean pastry from their bakery excited to try a red bean dessert for the first time. Unfortunately, it only tasted like sweet pastry dough. I can’t wait to stop again and get azuki beans to make your recipe it looks delicious and I am sure full of flavor!
Thank you so much Brie! That is sad that the red bean pastry wasn’t good. Some of the bakeries inside 99 Ranch Market aren’t that great. Try JJ Bakery or 85˚C Bakery. Their baked goods are delicious! 🙂
But yea, homemade red bean paste is much healthier with less sugar and oil. It can be used in many desserts too. Enjoy and have fun!
Lizzie @ Grubdujour says
I had no idea red bean paste was made with azuki beans – I use them to make a curry with sweet potatoes and coconut milk! I may have to try this.
Homemade red bean paste is the best!
Every time I make the red bean paste to use as filling for a pastry we call hopia it always burst out of the shell. Half of the pastry is okey. Only when I use it as filling for this pastry. I usually use the split mung beans which has no shell unlike the adzuki beans. Is it the shell that does it. I like adzuki beans instead of the split mung beans. Do you have any advise.
Hi Dawn, unfortunately I’m not familiar with hopia. This is the first time I have heard of it. But if you think the shells of the adzuki beans maybe the problem, maybe you can turn them into a puree with a blender or food processor. Could it also be that adzuki beans have more moisture than split mung beans? If that is the case, maybe cook down the adzuki beans more to reduce some moisture. Sorry, that’s the best I can think of. Hope you’re able to figure it out. Wish you all the luck!
The pastry is like a pie crust that is flaky. I do purée the beans but I will try to purée them finely than I used to.
Got it, I googled it. It looks delicious! Hope that works!
My friends order from me a lot. It is nit a business though just doing it for friends and charge them really cheap
That’s really cool! ?