Tuesday, 13 September 2011

How to Make: Red Bean Paste (Anko) used in Chinese, Japanese and Korean sweets.

Red bean paste is a sweet bean paste that is commonly in East Asian sweets. Red beans have a slight sweet taste even without having sugar added to it.  However, it is most commonly sweetened, and used to flavour, fill or as a base for sweets.  It is used to make Japanese jelly (Yokan), to fill Korean doughnuts and Chinese pineapple buns, as a topping of the Malaysian Ice Kacang and many, many more.  There are 3 main types red bean pastes.  There are the whole, the chunky and the smooth.  The whole one consists of the red beans being whole which is all slicked in a sugary syrup.  The chunky one has the beans mashed with the skins on with a few addition of whole beans for texture. The smooth one is the most common one to be filled in pastries, and cakes.  It is completely mashed and have been strained through a sieve to remove the skins leaving a satiny smooth dark paste.  
   Red bean paste is extremely easy to make, and it can flavour almost any sweets and desserts like red bean cake, red bean pie, red bean pancakes, or just on top of vanilla ice cream.  The best ratio I've found to make red bean anko paste is 1:4 (red beans to water, respectively).  So please multiply or divide according to the amount you require. Both metric (left side) and imperial measurements (right side) are listed.
    Red beans (commonly labelled, ''Anko'') are very easy to get at any Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Malaysian, almost all East Asian markets.  They are in packets and usually inexpensive, perhaps $1.29-$2.50 CAD a packet.  There are pre-tinned and pre-made pastes available as well, but you can't control the sugar content and the addition of preservatives.  I think it's best to make your own, and it's easy too!

How to make: Red Bean (Anko) Paste
by: Kubeen81's recipes
Yields- This particular recipe makes about 225 grams (3/4 cup) of paste
Preparation: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 1 hour


100 grams of red beans (1/2 cup)
400 mL of water (1 2/3 cups)
To taste, some sweetener (I used 1/4 cup of golden syrup and 1 tbsp of brown sugar, but you can use honey, white, brown, rock, cane sugar, even sugar substitute like splenda will work.)


1.)  In a bowl put the beans and enough water to completely submerge the beans.

2.)  Let it soak for 3 hours, this will rehydrate the beans and they will expand a little a bit.

3.)  After they've soaked, drain the water.
Let it soak in water to rehydrate.

1.) In a saucepan, add the beans and the 400 mL of water and cover.

2.) Let it simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes or until the beans are soft.
Almost ready, another 5 min.
3.)  Add the sweetener, add thoroughly.

4.) Let it cool for 15 minutes, it will thicken up. You can now either have it as is or mash them.  (See below.)

For whole beans:  The paste is complete.

For partly mashed: Remove half of the whole beans out and mash the other half.  When they are completely mashed, add back the whole beans and mix.

For smooth paste:  Mash the beans and then strain it through a sieve.  This will remove the skins, leaving a dark smooth paste.  Discard the skins.  You may need to add more sweetener, be sure to taste it.

Tips and Notes:
**Whole beans are usually used as toppings or in drinks. Some examples are vanilla ice cream topped with the whole beans on top, or in a drink with coconut milk, crushed ice and whole red beans.
**Partially mashed beans can also be used like whole beans, but can also be used in pastriesl
**Smooth pastes are used for pastry fillings such as moon cakes, or to make jellies, like Yokan 羊羹, but can also be used like the others.
**If it seems like the water is evaporating faster than the beans are soft, add some more water to cover the beans.
** The final product should be slightly wet but not drowned in water.
** Golden syrup, and honey gives the red bean paste a shiny gloss to the beans.
** The water is used as a medium to allow the beans to get soft.  The beans should be as soft as white kidney beans when they are finished cooking.
Whole Bean Red Bean Paste


  1. This is really interesting. I've not heard of it before. Looking forward to learning more from your posts and Happy to be your newest follower :)

  2. Thank you so much for your nice comments on my blog @ thechocoaholic.blogspot.com
    You got quite a blog here too...I love any kind of Asian food so I am now following.

  3. Hey!! can I make this paste with any kind of red beans? I know the real thing is made with Azuki beans or hoong dal beans, but I happen to have small red beans and I was thinking on making moon cakes!


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