Sweet red bean paste to Asian sweets is what sugar icing to western cupcakes. If you ever stepped into an Asian bakery store, you’d find plethora of sweet bean paste flavored goodies presented in different shapes and forms. Sweet red bean paste is by far one of the most important ingredients in Asian desserts.
In a nutshell, sweet red beans paste is made from boiled red bean, or Azuki beans in Japanese. The beans are then sweetened with sugar and seasoned with butter or lard to form a smooth and creamy consistency.
So how do you use red bean paste? In Japan, the bean paste is stuffed inside of rice flour dough to make a popular dessert called red bean paste mochi. During Chinese New Year, the sweet bean paste used to make this traditional eight-treasured rice dish. If don’t like rice, you are always free to add the red bean paste to whatever you have on hand to create your own dish such as this one here. The point is there are endless ways you can put the red bean paste to use.
The red bean paste is commercially available in most of the Asian supermarkets but I often find the store bought one either too sweet or too much preservatives added. So I make my own bean paste.
There are many ways to make the red bean paste at home. The recipe I use is by no means the most traditional method but it makes good bean paste in a reasonable amount of time.
Here is how I make my smooth version of sweet red bean paste. I employ a simple method that calls for a food processor, which gets the job done a lot faster than mashing the beans manually. If you like your bean paste in the chucky fashion, please see the notes on the bottom.
To begin, rinse and soak the dry red beans. Remove the ones floating on the surface. Soak the beans in water for at least 3 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, rinse the beans again remove the excess water. In a pot, combine the soaked beans and water. Bring beans and water to boil and reduce the heat to low. With the lid on, simmer the beans for about 1 hour or until they are soft
Separate the cooking liquid from the cooked beans by draining in a colander. Save the cooking liquid
Transfer the cooked beans to a food processor. Add enough cooking liquid you saved earlier so you can blend the beans to a smooth consistency.
On low heat, transfer the blended bean paste back to the cooking, stir the bean paste and add sugar and butter. Keep stirring until the paste is smooth and forms still peak.
Cool down the sweet bean paste and keep it refrigerated. If making in bulk, you can also store the bean paste in freezer for as long as a month.
To make the chucky style bean paste, skip the steps where you blend the beans in the food processor. Instead, add the sugar and butter directly to the cooked bean. Stir the bean paste over low heat until it reaches the desired consistency.