Pureed red bean paste is wrapped in a thin blanket of crisp-fried crepes in this sweet Shanghai classic. Traditionally served on its own, toppings such as toasted sesame seeds and light syrups are certainly welcome. My favorite addition is Japanese kinako, an aromatic flour of roasted soybeans, adding a subtle nuttiness that always plays well with the rich sweetness of azuki bean paste.
This simple recipe is probably the best reason to own a rectangular pan (or a lame excuse for justifying impulse buys meant to appease kitchen gearheads). A few rows of uniformly-sized crepes in the morning is always a great way to start the day (or instant therapy for some undiagnosed condition).
Still not convinced to make this right now? Red bean crepes are also great for sharpening your chopstick handling skills. Using nothing but two sticks, make a few batches without tearing a single crepe and you’ll surpass Mr. Miyagi in no time.
Shanghai Red Bean Crêpe
makes 3 crepes (4 to 6 servings)
1 large egg
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil
9 tablespoons pureed red bean paste
roasted soybean powder or toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Place the all-purpose flour in a mixing bowl. In a separate container, beat the large egg with the cold water until thoroughly mixed. Add the egg mixture to the flour and whisk until the batter is smooth.
Heat a non-stick skillet or rectangular pan over medium-low heat. Brush the bottom lightly with peanut oil. Add 1/3 of the batter to the pan, tilting it to ensure that the bottom is evenly coated. Once the crepe is set, spread 3 tablespoons of the red bean paste in the middle, forming a rectangular shape.
Gently fold in the outer edges of the crepe to form a red bean hot pocket. Add more oil to the pan if desired and continue pan-frying the crepe until browned and slightly crispy on both sides.
Top row: scraggly crepes made before that first cup of morning coffee
Bottom row: finally awake
Underneath the Shanghai Red Bean Crepe, or why owning a rectangular non-stick pan is totally worth it.
Slice the crepes into 4 to 6 bite-sized pieces. Serve on its own, with fresh fruit, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, or my personal favorite, dusted with roasted soybean powder.