Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Red bean paste

Red bean paste or Azuki bean paste is a sweet, dark red bean paste originating from China. It is used in Chinese cuisine, , and Korean cuisine. It is prepared by boiling and mashing azuki beans and then sweetening the paste with sugar or honey. The husk of the beans may be removed by sieving before sweetening, which leads to a smoother and more homogeneous paste.


Red bean paste is graded according to its consistency.
In Chinese cuisine, the most common types are:
* ''Mashed'': Azuki beans are boiled with sugar and mashed. The paste is smooth with bits of broken beans and bean husk. Depending on the intended texture, the beans can be vigorously or lightly mashed. Some unmashed beans can also be added back into the bean paste for additional texture. This is the most common and popular type of red bean paste eaten in Chinese confections. Can also be eaten on its own or in sweet soups.
* ''Smooth'': Azuki beans are boiled without sugar, mashed, and diluted into a slurry. The slurry is then strained through a sieve to remove the husk, filtered, and squeezed dry using cheesecloth, and then finally sweetened. Oil, either vegetable oil or lard, is usually added to the relatively dry paste to improve its texture and mouth feel. Smooth bean paste is mainly found as fillings for Chinese pastries.

In Japanese cuisine, the most common types are:
* ''Tsubuan'' , whole red beans boiled with sugar but otherwise untreated
* ''Tsubushian'' , where the beans are mashed after boiling
* ''Koshian'' , which has been passed through a sieve to remove bean skins; the most common type
* ''Sarashian'' , which has been dried and reconstituted with water


In , a number of names are used to refer to red bean paste; these include , , and . Strictly speaking, the term ''an'' can refer to almost any edible mashed paste, although without qualifiers red beans are assumed. Common alternatives include ''shiroan'' , made from white kidney beans, and ''kurian'' , made from chestnuts.

Similarly, the Chinese term ''dou sha'' , which literally means "bean sand" due to its fine texture, applies to red bean paste when used without qualifiers, although ''hongdou sha'' explicitly means red bean paste .



Red bean paste is used in many Chinese foods, such as:
* : Red bean paste with more water added to form a ''tong sui'', or thick, sweet soup. Often cooked and eaten with ''tangyuan'' and lotus seeds. This is almost always a dessert.
* ''Tangyuan'' : Glutinous rice balls filled with sweet fillings such as red bean paste and boiled in plain or sweetened water.
* ''Zongzi'' : Glutinous rice and red bean paste wrapped with bamboo leaves and steamed or boiled. The glutinous rice used to make zongzi is usually specially prepared and appears yellow.
* Mooncakes (; yùe bíng): A baked pastry consisting of thin dough surrounding a filling. The filling is traditionally made from various ingredients, including mashed lotus seeds, red bean paste, or other fillings. The texture of this filling is quite similar to straight red bean paste.
* ''Baozi'' : Steamed leavened bread filled with a variety of savory or sweet fillings.
* Red bean cake
* Red bean pancake


Red bean paste is used in many Japanese sweets, such as:
* Anmitsu
* Anpan
* Daifuku
* Dango
* Dorayaki
* Oshiruko or ''Zenzai''
* Taiyaki


Red bean paste is used in various Korean snack foods and desserts; including:
*Baram Dduk

It is a custom in Korea to eat red bean paste on the winter solstice day. It was said to expel bad spirits out of the person, and keep the person healthy throughout the winter by warming the body.

Cultural use

*The cartoon hero Anpanman is an anthropomorphic ''anpan'' bun filled with azuki bean paste.
*Anko is also the given name of a character from the popular manga/anime ''Naruto''. Anko and Mitarashi, her family name, are also ingredients in her favorite food, dango.
*In Natsume Sōseki classic novel ''I Am a Cat'', Prof. Sneeze is addicted to red bean jam, on which his wife blames both his dyspepsia and the family's unaffordable food bills.

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