Red bean paste, known as anko in Japan, is a versatile ingredient used in both savory and sweet dishes. You can find fresh or frozen red paste in Asian supermarkets, often in several varieties. There are two main types of red bean paste: Tsubuan, which is chunky red bean paste, and Koshian, which is smooth red bean paste.
You can purchase red beans (called adzuki beans) and make anko from scratch. It isn’t that difficult, requiring only the beans, water and sugar. Making anko also lets you control the quantity of sugar, whereas store-bought anko already has sugar added.
How to Make Tsubuan (Chunky Red Bean Paste)
First, you start by soaking 1 cup of beans in water for 8-12 hours to tenderize the beans. Then, drain the beans and transfer to a saucepan. Cover them with 1 to 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Allow the beans to steam for 5 minutes, which removes the bitterness and delivers a sweeter paste.
Using a colander, drain, rinse and cool the beans under cool water. Clean the saucepan. Add the beans and cover them with water again. Bring the beans to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, allowing beans to simmer for about 1 hour. You may need to occasionally add more water. The beans are cooked when you can mash them with your fingers.
Note: You can cook the beans in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
Remove the pan from the heat; drain the beans and return them to the empty saucepan. Add 1 ½ cups of sugar (or as much as desired), and stir together. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat while stirring continuously for 3 minutes. The mixture should resemble the consistency and dryness of mashed potatoes.
Add salt to taste. Allow the bean paste to cool, and transfer to the refrigerator, where it will thicken even more.
Note: You can also add vanilla extract or butter for a sweeter or richer variation.
How to Make Koshian (Smooth Red Bean Paste)
Before cooling, transfer the mixture to a food mill and process the beans. This removes the skins, resulting in a much smoother red bean paste.
You can also process the beans by mashing them through a fine mesh sieve. Lastly, you can use a food processor. This doesn’t remove the skins, but the result is still quite smooth.
Store red bean paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for about a week. It will also last in the freezer for about a month.
Culinary Uses for Red Bean Paste
Red bean paste is a popular filling for many types of Japanese pastries and cakes, and it also flavors many confectioneries. Consider using red bean paste in some of the following recipes:
These pancake sandwiches use red bean paste as the filling.
Beautiful and tasty, these populRed bean paste (anko) is a sweet ingredient often used in Japan as a filling for various pastries, to flavor confectioneries, and even for use in ice cream. You can make your own red bean paste and use it in several recipes.ar treats are a traditional spring dish.
Two sweet, intense flavors combine to refresh you on a hot day or after a good meal.
4. Steamed Buns
If you want more savory fare and know how to make steamed buns, use red bean paste as a filling for a bit of umami sweetness.
5. Red Bean Paste Ice Cream
Use red bean paste to make red bean paste ice cream, or even popsicles!