Most traditional Japanese confectioneries are made of stewed beans and sugar. The most popular beans for this purpose are small red beans called adzuki. They are served hot in winter, cold in summer, sometimes mashed, sometimes strained, served by themselves or with other ingredients, and occasionally shaped in a mold.
During summer, I love to eat chilled sweet adzuki beans with vanilla ice cream, or with shaved ice and green tea syrup. In winter, drop a couple of toasted mochi in hot adzuki bean sauce as oshiruko (photo on the left).
Once you stewed red beans, you can keep it in a refrigerator for about a week or so. If you use more sugar, the stewed beans last longer.
When you buy adzuki beans (dried red beans), try to buy new beans as much as possible. The newer beans can be cooked easily within one hour or so, but old beans are tough and take forever to be soften.
If you are busy, you can find packaged or canned stewed sweet adzuki beans at Asian grocery stores. But when it comes to adzuki beans, I prefer to cook by myself, because home cooked adzuki beans just taste better. And, if you cook beans on your own you can make a lot of stewed beans cheaply.
- 2 cups adzuki beans (dried red beans)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 tsp salt
|Before cooking, remove bad beans and discard. Put the beans in a heavy pot, rinse with water once, and add water to comfortably cover the beans. Turn on the stove, heat the beans until boil, then drain the cooking water using a colander. Add water to the pot again and do the same process one more time.|
|When the third time to cook the beans, add about 1" more water above the beans and turn on the heat. When boil, turn down the heat to low, and keep cooking until the beans soften without a lid. The new beans are cooked in one hour or so, but old beans take few hours. If water evaporates too much and expose the beans to the air while cooking, add some more water. When the beans are soft enough to mash with your fingers, turn off the heat, and drain the water using a colander.|
|Put back the cooked and drained adzuki beans in a pot, with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 tsp of salt. Cook over high heat, and turn down the heat to low when boil. Simmer about 10 minutes and done. Cooking water should cover the beans completely at this point. This is a good consistency to make oshiruko.|
|If you want to make "anko" paste, keep cooking to further reduce the water content. Keep stirring and mashing the beans, until the adzuki beans reach the desired consistency.|