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Sweet Red Bean Paste: (made with Azuki Beans)

First added: 2012-07-23; Last edited: 2013-02-18

Sweet Red Bean Paste" (2013-02-07).

Author: Stephen Chin-Bow (Yale College).

Background: I will convert this recipe to also use weights, when I buy an accurate digital balance.

If I remember I will take photos the next time I make "sweet red bean paste".

Azuki beans are also called adzuki beans and even aduki beans.

Red is an auspicious color in many Asian cultures.  Sweet red bean paste, made using azuki beans, is used in Chinese and Japanese desserts.  Steamed buns filled with red beans are found on Chinatown restaurant menus and eaten during many dimsum meals.  Daifuku filled with red bean paste is just one of the many variations of Japanese mochi.  Sweet red bean paste served between two pancakes (dorayaki) is a wonderful treat which children love to make and eat.  At some Chinese banquets the last course may be a sweet drink prepared using red beans and lotus seeds.

In 2012, a 16-18 ounce can of prepared sweet red bean paste cost between $2-$6 when purchased in New Haven.  Dried azuki bean prices vary a lot (organically grown beans cost between $4 - $5 per pound; uncertified azuki beans cost about $1.50 per pound), but even if you use expensive high quality beans making homemade sweet red bean paste is still cheaper than using commercial sweet red bean paste.  Plus, you control the amount of sugar added.  If you do not have the time to purchase, soak, and boil dried azuki beans you can still make the sweet red bean paste by using canned azuki beans (cooked, but not crushed and not sweetened).  Cooked azuki beans cost about $1.75 per 15 ounce can.

Sweet red bean paste can be used to make different desserts (see "Other Options").

Please let me know if you have suggestions for improving this recipe!

Essential Supplies & Ingredients: (makes enough to fill a 32 ounce yogurt container)

• 2 quart pot
• frying pan
• a tool for crushing the cooked beans (eg. a fork, a food processor, or an immersion blender)

• 12 ounces dried azuki beans (slightly more than 1 1/2 Cups)

• between 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar


Refer to the "Beans & Legumes: Preparation" page for general advice about cooking beans.

Soaking the Beans: After rinsing the beans soak the clean beans overnight (in the refrigerator) in at least 3 cups of water.  12 oz of dried azuki beans will swell to approximately 1 quart (32 oz), so it is best to use a container at least this large.  Optional: If you have time, drain the beans (discarding the liquid), add more water, and soak for another one or two hours (room temperature is fine).

Cooking the Beans: Drain the beans (discarding the liquid), rinse (recommended if you did not do the "2nd" optional soaking), transfer the beans to a pot, and add water until the beans are covered by half or one inch of water.  "Simmer" for between 75 to 90 minutes, or until the beans crush very easily with a fork.  Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Crushing the Beans: If there is "excess" liquid (> 1/2 C) drain the beans (save the liquid, which you can drink).  There are different ways to crush the beans.  If you plan to use a low-tech fork the beans are easier to crush when still warm-hot.  Regular blenders will not work, because the crushed beans will become too thick to mix adequately.

Crushing the beans manually will result in a paste with more texture.  If you like only smooth peanut butter you should use an immersion blender or a food processor.  If you enjoy crunchy peanut butter then using a fork will produce very acceptable results.

Preparing the Sweet Red Bean Paste: Heating the crushed azuki beans in a frying pan serves two purposes.  First, if the crushed beans are too watery heating the beans allows excess liquid to evaporate.  Second, the heating causes some sugar to caramelize, enhancing the flavor.

Some sweet red bean paste recipes suggest adding oil to the frying pan (to reduce sticking?), but this is not necessary if low heat is used and you stir continuously.  When the desired consistency is reached add the sugar (adjusting to your taste).  Cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5 minutes.  Store any unused filling in the refrigerator for a few days or the freezer for longer periods.

Other Options:

Two pounds of sweet red bean past can be used to prepare:

• thirty steamed buns with red bean paste (Asian / Chinese)
Daifuku filled with red bean paste; mochi (Asian / Japanese)
dorayaki (Asian / Japanese)
"Bubble tea" with red bean (Asian)

Tricks and Other "Secrets":


Assessment and Possible Improvements:


Annotated Internet Links:


Recommended Cookbooks:



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