Sweet Azuki (Red Bean) Paste – East Asian Dessert Introduction

Sweet Azuki Red Bean Paste Koshi-An Tsubushi-An

Sweetened azuki bean paste opens the door to East Asia, where it is widely used in a variety of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean sweets. Whether used in bread or pastry fillings, sweet soups, pancakes, or ice cream, the essential azuki bean is usually highlighted as the main flavor. Its assertiveness is best complemented with neutral ingredients, or my personal preference, enjoyed on its own with a splash of milk or cream and a cup of green tea.

Store-bought azuki bean paste, convenient though it is, can be tooth-achingly sweet to the point of inedibility. Making your own unsweetened bean paste gives you the flexibility to adjust the sugar amount depending on the recipe.

Azuki bean paste generally comes in two consistencies: chunky (tsubushi-an) and pureed (koshi-an). The following methods for both types should cover the majority of your red bean paste needs. You’ll be relieved to know that soaking and pressure cookers are optional — azuki beans are a relatively quick-cooking legume.

recipe adapted from Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art
My Legume Love Affair hosted by Lucy of Nourish Me

2 Sweet Azuki (Red Bean) Paste Variations – Chunky and Pureed

makes about 2 cups (450 grams)

Azuki Red Beans

1 cup (6.35 ounces / 180 grams) azuki beans

To Prepare the Azuki:

Wash the azuki beans and place in a large pot filled with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, drain, and discard the water. Continue with the instructions for either chunky (tsubushi-an) or pureed (koshi-an) azuki bean paste.

For the Chunky Azuki Bean Paste
つぶしあん (Tsubushi-An)

1 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
pinch of salt

Instructions:

Add about 3 cups of water to a pot containing the par-boiled azuki beans. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and simmer the azuki beans until soft, approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours. The water should be almost completely absorbed by the time the beans are done. Add water as needed while simmering to prevent the beans from scorching.

Add the sugar, stirring gently until the azuki bean paste is heated through and glossy. Season with a pinch of salt and mix well. The paste should be thick with some whole and half-crushed azuki beans.

For the Pureed Azuki Bean Paste
こしあん (Koshi-An)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, or to taste
pinch of salt

Equipment:

sieve or fine mesh strainer
cheesecloth or cotton bag

Instructions:

Add about 5 cups of water to a pot containing the par-boiled azuki beans. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook the azuki beans until soft, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. There will still be a considerable amount of liquid at this point.

Place a sieve over a bowl. Pour the beans and liquid into the strainer, such that the bottom of the strainer is partly immersed in the liquid.

Using a wooden spoon, spatula, or the palm of your hands, mash the beans through the sieve into the simmering liquid so that the bean skins stay on the sieve.

Pour the mashed beans and simmering liquid into a cheesecloth or cotton bag and squeeze out all the water. Put the unsweetened bean paste in a saucepan, add the sugar, and cook over low heat, stirring gently until the azuki bean paste is heated through and glossy. Season with a pinch of salt and mix well. The paste should have the consistency of mashed potatoes.

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92 Responses to “Sweet Azuki (Red Bean) Paste – East Asian Dessert Introduction”

  1. Rosa says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I love this interesting and unusual dessert paste!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    last blog post: WEEKEND CAT BLOGGING #172

  2. Lucy says:

    Jude, Azuki’s are very close to the top of my list of favourite beans! How did you know? ;-)

    I’m loving the idea of them eaten, on their own, with a cup of steaming green tea. I have made an icecream using them once – it was revelatory.

    Glorious, delicious entry! Thanks for participating in the event. (Pleased to have found your blog, too!)

  3. Marija says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I made azuki paste once but it was too pale. I’ll try this recipe the next time.

  4. Adam says:

    Cool post, Jude. I’m kind of familiar with bean paste because of my Asian friends, but I had no idea it could be that sweet. I learned something today, and I’ve only been up for 30 mins… hooray for you :)

    last blog post: Fitness Fun Fridays #11

  5. kat says:

    I like bean paste in a bun, what a treat

    last blog post: Matt’s Mom’s Freezer Pickles

  6. noobcook says:

    The Japanese red beans u featured are superior to the other types, hehe … nice paste, gorgeous photos ;)

  7. bakinghistory says:

    Sweet red bean paste is one of my absolute favorites!!
    Thanks for the recipe. I never tried to prepare it from scratch.

    last blog post: Seed-Cake (Novel Food, Fall ‘08 edition)

  8. Dee says:

    You’re amazing, Jude! You seem to have just about every cuisine down pat.
    I love adzuki beans but have never cooked with them. I already have an idea of what to do with the Pureed Azuki Bean Paste. Uhm, apart from eating it with a spoon before the boys get home, that is.

    last blog post: Sawadeeka

  9. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen says:

    I love red bean ice cream and pastries with red bean fillings! I haven’t had that in a very long time and now I have a serious craving!

  10. Madam Chow says:

    Thanks for posting this – I needed it to make a Chinese pastry called jin dui!

    last blog post: Mississippi Caviar – Something Healthy, Quick, and Easy

  11. Ben says:

    I was going to make something with Azuki once, but it didn’t convince me. Now I know how to make my own. Thanks for the recipe.

    last blog post: Choriqueso bread sandwiches

  12. Aparna says:

    I have been seeing this on many blogs but you have demystified it for me.:)
    We traditionally have a sweet preparation using red beans (not adzuki but a bean which looks more like black eyed beans but is a little smaller and more brown than red), jaggery and coconut.

  13. My Sweet & Saucy says:

    I would love to try this dessert out! How fun and different!

  14. Ning says:

    Azuki beans are the same as our red beans, right? It is not a different variety? Then, it would be easy to make this! :)

    last blog post: The Quest for Bitterless Bittermelon: A Salad and A Stir-fry

  15. Life Chef says:

    I’m a big fan of the flavor and texture of adzuki beans, but as I stumbled across them ignorantly, I’ve been making them in savory dishes. However, know that I know THESE are the beans in those wonderful sticky buns, a new world has been opened up to me! Thanks Jude! You’ve done it again. P.S. Did you try the plantain fritters?

  16. daphne says:

    I can imagine this paste in a variety of recipes! Thanks for sharing Jude, I think I have forgotten how to do this till you remind me. =)

    last blog post: Blueberry Crumble Cake

  17. bee says:

    i love these is those stuffed buns (baozi??), but i believe the storebought paste has lye and other nasty stuff. thanks for the recipe.

  18. Sandie says:

    What an informative post, as this is all new to me. I’m afraid I’m not very well-versed in East Asian cuisine or ingredients, but I do enjoy learning about them.

    last blog post: Brighten Your Day, Anytime, with this Recipe for Orange Marmalade Coffee Cake

  19. van says:

    A very useful post! Thanks!

    last blog post: Pineapple jam

  20. Hannah says:

    Glad to see more people enjoying sweet adzuki beans! My family is very hesitant to try them, but they’re so good, it’s a shame to miss out just because of preconceptions about what beans would taste like in a dessert.

    last blog post: Hummus Among Us

  21. Andie Summerkiss says:

    I figure I won’t find azuki beans here in Legaspi huh. But it is one of my most favorite dessert paste. Your instructions are clear and I might make them once I find some here.

  22. Susan says:

    Thanks for making the clear distinctions about the two pastes. I made koshi-an once, specifically for stuffing in pancakes, and wound up eating it plain right out of the bowl.

  23. Maya says:

    Adzuki bean sweet porridge is something that is popular at home ( as with most sweet porridge).

  24. clumbsycookie says:

    I have to try and make this soon, I’ve been reading a lot about it and how it’s used in desserts. Thanks for the recipe!

    last blog post: A Giveaway, tshirts, muffins, cars and awards…

  25. Thanks for dropping by guys!

    Ning – I’m not sure but if it’s smaller than pea-sized then it’s probably the same thing

    Life Chef – Haven’t tried the fritters yet but it’s on the (long) list :)

    Bee – Didn’t know about the lye in storebought. Another reason to make it at home.

  26. Jo says:

    yummy – great with matcha ice-cream. we use this for a local dessert called red bean soup. the beans are boiled in water, rock sugar and dried orange peel until the beans splits and become soft. the dessert can be served either hot or cold.

    last blog post: Hot Cross Buns

  27. JennyBakes says:

    I keep seeing posts about red bean paste and I don’t think I’ve ever tried it. I keep picturing the taste and texture of things like black beans and chili beans and, well, I just can’t imagine it. I do like the idea of making my own, but any idea where I can buy azuki beans? My local grocery store doesn’t tend to have a wide variety of such things (I had to buy fava beans at the Syrian restaurant).

  28. Jo – I like the green/red contrast with matcha. I’ve tried a similar red bean soup — it had sweet rice balls in it.

    Jenny – Amazon carries Azuki beans from Bob’s Red Mill. It’s sold in huge batches, though.

  29. regie says:

    hi there! just found your site and i find it very informative and interesting.

    just would like to know about the storage of this red bean paste, do you keep them in a covered jar in the fridge? and how long can you keep them?

    thanks a lot!

  30. Stephanie says:

    Thanks a bunch for posting this recipe. I am currently in the process of making red bean mochi for the first time and the store by my house did not have any red bean paste pre-made so I am attempting to make it from your recipe. How are Japanese red beans different from red beans in the mexican section of the store?

  31. Are the Mexican beans a bit longer? They probably taste more like kidney beans. They will taste a very differently from azuki and would probably be better for savory things such as chili. They might make a good substitute, though!

  32. Mangala Baddeliyanage says:

    Hi!

    I bought the Aduki/Adzuki Beans from a Whole Food Store, you can locate these stores every where. I started eating it as we heard that it helps to loose weight. I have only eaten boiled. Will try to make the paste one of these days. How do you make pancakes with it? Do you have to boil it and make a puree before you make the batter? Please help!

    Thank you
    Mangala

  33. Mangala Baddeliyanage says:

    To everyone who are interested in eating Aduki /Adzuki Beans I wish them Good Luck and I hope it will help me loose weight as I was informed.

    Thank you

    Mangala

  34. Mangala Baddeliyanage says:

    Good Luck with the Aduki/Adzuki Beans.

  35. I have a recipe here that uses the sweetened red bean paste that are a bit like pancakes:
    http://www.applepiepatispate.com/chinese/shanghai-red-bean-crepe/

    Hope you like it!

  36. Matcha & Sweet Adzuki Bean Muffins | The Sugar Bar says:

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  37. Susan says:

    Hi,
    I tried making Koshi-An, but it’s still runny. What can I do to it to make it the right consistency?

    Thanks :D

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  39. Angela says:

    Well I tried to make Koshi-An too today. But for some reason it became really sticky, it almost looked like when you pull bubble gum apart… What did I do wrong?
    Did I maybe cook it too long or something?
    It absolutely didn’t look like even one of the photos I’ve ever seen of Koshi-An until now. Isn’t there something I can do if the bean paste becomes sticky like this?

    Thanks for the help :)

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  42. Hana says:

    hey just made some bean paste today, it came out pretty good for my first attempt thanks for the helpful recipe :)

  43. Simplygreathealth says:

    This looks DELICIOUS! can’t wait to give it a go!
    Thanks!

  44. Simplygreathealth says:

    loooks yummy one of my favourite beans! thanks i can’t wait to give it a go!

  45. taylor says:

    this is my 2nd attempt in making this b/c the 1st recipe tasted grainy and i didn’t like it. so i made it the pureed way and i skipped the cheesecloth step b/c i omitted the water and it was already a lot of work already. it turned out the consistency of pudding and turned out great! i add some sweetener to taste when i made red bean pancakes. yummy!

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  50. lej says:

    I am going to try making it in a slow cooker.

  51. Linna M. says:

    Where do you get sweet azuki beans?

  52. Martin Baadsgaard says:

    I just found out that this sugar/fat replacement I use for baked goods can be used to get the glossiness and texture the sugar normally adds.

    I love azuki bean paste, and have been using your recipe many times now, but because I don’t add any sugar, it’s always been kind of floury and bland.
    I like to eat it in some fairly big quantities, that’s why I needed a low-cal version.

    The replacement is a danish brand called Isis Perfect Fit, which is mostly polydextrose http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polydextrose

    Hope anyone could use that info :)

  53. lety says:

    does anyone know where i can get the beans for this recipe?

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  68. jirina says:

    Hi, If I knew about this page, I didn’t need to suffer making anko lol, but at least, I have done it and Like so much. Only one question: I made much cuantity and have it in the refri, but i know it lasts there about a week isn’t it? So in this case, may I freeze the paste to use after? It won’t ruin if i freeze it? Pls, answer me as soon as possible, thank you so much, have a nice day.

  69. massu_no_egao says:

    hi, i would like to know if i could use red kidney beans instead of azuki beans because they are not avaliable in my country :(

  70. Heidi says:

    I used Shirakiku brand that I got from a Japanese grocery. I was worried my beans weren’t going to be fresh since I bought them two years ago, but I don’t think it made *much* of a difference in the final product. It took 2 to 2 1/2 hours to cook, so maybe the older the bean the longer it takes to cook?

    I only used 1 cup of sugar and was still quite sweet enough for me. The paste was very dark red, almost chocolate colored. Very yummy, thanks!

  71. Hayley says:

    Fantastic recipe! Turned out delicious. I made the smooth paste and added 1 cup of sugar. I think it may actually have been too much as the final product is a little liquid. Next time I will add half and then do it to taste. But over all great result, hubby and I are both very excited to use the bean paste in other recipes.

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    In the wikipedia recipe it says after your supposed to fry it in a whole lot of oil to “get the water out.” ???

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