Though humble and unassuming at first glance, adzuki beans are one of the most important ingredients for East Asian confectionery. From Japanese dorayaki to Korean sweet rice cakes and Chinese sesame balls, this sweet and earthy legume plays a central role in countless desserts.
What Do Adzuki Beans Taste Like?
Adzuki beans have a nutty flavor with an earthy undertone, rounded out by a mellow but palpable sweetness. When cooked, the beans develop a soft and creamy texture with a slightly gritty quality and are still able to hold their shape.
How to Prepare Adzuki Beans
Because adzuki beans are so small, they require little to no soaking and cook much faster than other legumes. Wash and rinse your dried adzuki beans then add to a pot with a 4:1 ratio of water to beans. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer, then cook the beans until tender. For one cup of dried beans, this will usually take between 45 minutes to an hour for an al dente texture.
What to Do With Adzuki Beans
The most common use for adzuki beans is for making sweet red bean paste. The sweet, nutty, and rich paste is a popular dessert and snack filling throughout East Asia. It’s used in glutinous rice-based treats like mochi and tangyuan as well as baked goods like anpan and mooncakes. Sandwich a layer of sweet adzuki bean paste between two pieces of Hawaiian butter mochi for a twist on the Hawaiian-Japanese fusion treat.
While adzuki beans are most often used for desserts, they also make a great addition to savory dishes. Like other legumes, you can use them to bulk up your salads, soups, or stews. The beans bring a subtle layer of sweetness that pairs wonderfully with savory flavors.In Japan, Korea, and China, red bean rice made with glutinous rice and adzuki beans is a staple often served during special occasions. Its toothsome quality makes it the perfect vehicle for salty and spicy main dishes. Try making your own at home and serve it with our char siu pork or beef bulgogi.
Feature Image: Martin Hetto from Pixabay