How to make red bean paste (红豆沙)

Essential ingredient for many classic Chinese dishes, homemade red bean paste only requires three simple steps. It tastes much better than commercial versions.

Essential ingredient for many classic Chinese dishes, homemade red bean paste only requires 3 simple steps. It tastes much better than commercial versions.

Red beans (红豆), also know as Adzuki beans, are widely used in Chinese cuisine (also in Japanese and Korean cuisine). They are red in colour like red kidney beans, but quite small in size (slightly bigger than mung beans. They measure about 8mm).

The most popular way to prepare red beans is to cook them into a sweetened paste which is an essential ingredient for many classic Chinese dishes, such as Zongzi, Tangyuan, Mooncake, Red bean snow ice, Red bean ice lolly, Red bean steamed buns, Jiandui, etc.

Essential ingredient for many classic Chinese dishes, homemade red bean paste only requires 3 simple steps. It tastes much better than commercial versions.

It’s not difficult to find ready-to-use red bean paste (红豆沙) in Chinese / Asian shops. However, I think the homemade version is so much better. There are no additive, artificial colouring or flavouring and you can control the amount of sugar to suit your own taste. My culinary fan No. 2 in our Red House wouldn’t eat any shop-bought red bean paste but he can’t get enough of the homemade one.

There are two types of red bean paste: smooth or mashed. The former has a very fine, smooth consistency. It’s commonly used as a filling for Tangyuan, Mooncake for example. In this post I’m sharing the mashed version which has a more rustic look. Most of the paste is smooth, but you can still find broken beans and bean husks which make the texture more interesting. Recipes like Zongzi (Chinese sticky rice dumplings), Red bean snow ice, Red bean steamed buns normally call for this type of paste.

Essential ingredient for many classic Chinese dishes, homemade red bean paste only requires 3 simple steps. It tastes much better than commercial versions.

It’s very easy to make mashed red bean paste. You only need a little bit time and patience. There are three simple steps to follow:

  1. Soak the beans before cooking. The longer you soak them, the shorter time you will need to cook then through.
  2. Let them simmer in water until the beans are very soft.
  3. Add butter (or lard, commonly used in traditional recipes) and sugar, then boil down the water. By stirring constantly, most of the beans will be mashed nicely.

If you wish to make smooth red bean paste, you need to drain the beans after step 1 and press them through a sieve. Then dry out the moisture by cooking the paste in a non-stick pan over a low heat.

How to make red bean paste (红豆沙)
Rate this recipe
Average: 0/5

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: about 500g / 2 cups

How to make red bean paste (红豆沙)

Essential ingredient for many classic Chinese dishes, homemade red bean paste only requires 3 simple steps. It tastes much better than commercial versions.

Ingredients

  • 200g / 7oz red beans (aka adzuki beans)
  • 700-800ml / 3-3.5 cups water
  • 30g / 1oz butter or lard
  • 40g / 1.4oz rock sugar or 2 tablespoons regular sugar (see note 1)

Instructions

  1. Rinse red beans then soak them in water overnight.
  2. Pour red beans and water into a pot. Bring the water to a boil then leave to simmer for about 50 minutes (see note 2). By then beans are still in shape but can be mashed very easily with finger tips.
  3. Turn the heat up to high. Add butter and sugar. Stir constantly (to avoid burning) until the beans become mushy and no more liquid can be seen (but not too dry).

Notes

1. You are free to adjust the amount of sugar. I personally don’t like it too sweet. However, if this paste is used for a dish which is supposed to be quite sweet, I would add more sugar. Sometimes I like stirring in a bit of condensed milk. It provides a sweeter taste and a lovely milky flavour as well.

2. Cooking utensils and the power of heat may vary. You should check the water level if uncertain. Add a little more when necessary.

3. Storage: Leave the paste to cool completely. Store in a air-tight container (or a sealable plastic bag) for up to 3 days in the fridge or 2 months in the freezer.

https://redhousespice.com/red-bean-paste/

Thanks for your interest in this post. I will share more recipes using this delightful paste in the future.

Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

Read this classic delicacy using red bean paste as filling:

Zongzi: Chinese sticky rice dumpling (粽子)

Essential ingredient for many classic Chinese dishes, homemade red bean paste only requires 3 simple steps. It tastes much better than commercial versions.

I'd like to hear from you