Anko, red bean paste, is used in many confectionery in Japan, most commonly used for wagawashi (traditional Japanese confectionery). Anko is often used in a similar way as chocolate, sometimes wrapped in pastry, bread, mochi (we call it Daifuku), or topped on ice cream. I simply like to eat it with sticky mochi, or in Zenzai style, a soupier version with mochi inside. This is my comfort sweets around New Year.
Red bean paste (Anko: 餡子)
- 10 oz (283.5g) Azuki red bean
- 280g suger
- a pinch of salt
- Rinse azuki beans, let them soak over night with a plenty of water in Donabe (earthenware pot) or other deep pot. Pour water till 1-2 inches above the beans.
- When soaked, start heating the pot, bring them to boil in high heat. Covered.
- Once boiling, scoop the scum off the surface, reduce heat to low, cook for 1-2 hr, covered.
- keep adding water so that beans are always covered.
- Pick one azuki bean and squeeze it with your fingers. If it is smushed easily, it’s done. Check few azuki beans and make sure all beans are soft. ( *Once you add the sugar, uncooked beans will harden like a stone.)
- Dump azuki beans into a strainer, drain water completely.
- In a pot, add 70mil of water and sugar, then cook till sugar is dissolved.
- Add drained azuki beans, cook in high heat even after boiling, keep mixing gently to avoid burning the beans, or mash beans too much.
- Stop the heat when beans a thicker and syrupy (they will harden as they cool down), add a pinch of salt.
- Move azuki bean into a container, let them cool down completely before you eat. You can wrap extra portion with saran wrap, keep in a freezer.
Note: Cooking time varies depending on the kind of Azuki bean you're using, and how old they are, as well as the kind of pot you're using. The brand I used tend to cook in about 1 hour. The sweetness of azuki bueans also depends on what kind of sugar you use. White sugar tends to be too sweet to my taste. Experiment with different kinds of sugar and discover your own favorite.