In particular, adzuki bean buns. One of my favorite treats! Forget the decadent, ridiculously rich brownies and outrageous ice cream creations**, bring on the mighty adzuki bean!
A couple blocks from my grandpa's house there is a tiny little bakery that makes the best adzuki buns ever. I discovered it summer two years ago when I first came to China and used to eat them all the time. Now they are an occasional dessert when we visit grandpa's.
Beans in desserts is actually quite prevalent in Asian cultures. Other common fillings are mung beans, sesame seed, toasted walnut, purple sweet potato and roasted chestnuts.
What makes this particular bakery's confections so special? Well their pastry dough is extremely flaky and light and they don't skimp on the filling! The red bean mixture is dense, sweet, and has a fudge-like texture. Absolute mouthgasm.
Can I be annoying and tag #foodporn?
Other sweets that incorporate adzuki beans are steamed buns, cake and mooncake fillings, ice cream, mochi and sesame rice balls. They are extremely versatile, both in bean and paste form.
Here is a recipe for the delicious adzuki bean paste, also called anko.
200g (scant cup) adzuki beans
1/2 - 1 cup sweetener of choice, to taste
Pinch of salt
Soak beans over night.Rinse before using.
Use a big pot because the amount of azuki beans will double after cooking. Place beans in the pot and cover with water until 1-2 inches above azuki beans. Turn the heat on high.When water starts to boil, turn off heat and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Dump the water and drain beans, then put the adzuki beans back in the pot. Add enough water to just cover the beans and turn the heat to high. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer.
Water will evaporate so you need to keep adding water to cover just above the beans. Stir occasionally. If you need to leave the kitchen, make sure to turn off the heat. Cook for about 1 hour.
Pick up one bean and squeeze it. If it smushes easily the batch is done. Add sweetener in 3 batches and mix well. Turn up the heat to high and stir constantly. Even after water starts boiling, keep the heat on high. When the desired consistency is achieved turn off heat. When anko cools down, it will be more solid. Add salt right before you finish mixing.
Pour into a container to cool down. Do not leave it in the pot. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge to store after cool down. Wrap in plastic bags and store in Ziploc freezer bags in fridge for a week and freezer up to a month.
Enjoy in any recipe that calls for anko! Or just eat with a spoon (:
**Not including cappuccino cheesecake mixed with soft serve.