Red beans, commonly known as adzuki beans, evoke memories of nostalgia for me. In Chinese, it’s called hóngdòu (紅豆), which directly translates to ‘red bean’. The thought of this treat transports me to a loud Chinese restaurant, a table filled with family members and full bellies. Center stage is a lazy Susan, now empty as the waiters clear the table, making room for the star of the show: Eight Treasure Rice (ba bao fan/八寶飯). My father, appearing noble for volunteering to serve the table, actually has an ulterior motive; he knows how much I love red bean, so he makes sure I have a little more red bean paste in my portion.
Red bean paste is a common component in East Asian desserts. The possibilities are endless, ranging from soup, dumplings, pastry fillings, and so much more! It can also be used in savory dishes.
Are Adzuki, Azuki, Aduki, and Red Mung Beans the same?
Yes! If you live in the U.S. and are shopping in at a traditional American market, you’ll most likely find them labeled as ‘Adzuki Beans’. Bob’s Red Mill is a brand that sells adzuki beans.
The scientific name for adzuki bean is Vigna angularis. According to the PFAF Database, it’s also another name for red mung bean.
Are Kidney Beans the same as Adzuki Beans?
Adzuki beans should not be confused with kidney beans. While they are in the same Favacace family, mung beans and adzuki beans derive from the Vigna genus, while the kidney beans are from the Phaseolus genus.
Origins of Adzuki Beans
Nutrition Profile of Adzuki Beans
Adzuki beans, like many beans, are filled with fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, and antioxidants. They’re rich in soluble fibers and resistant starch, which serve as food for your good gut bacteria. When these good bacteria feed on the soluble fiber and resistant starch they create short-chain fatty acids that may improve gut health.
Prevalent minerals found adzuki beans are copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.
Through the lens Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), adzuki beans have been associated with aiding the kidney, bladder, and reproductive functions.
Uses of Red Bean Paste
Thinking about changing up the flavor profile of your desserts? Try this red bean paste on top of toast, with oatmeal, or in your favorite Asian dessert.
Other ideas are red bean popsicles, which are my grandma’s (外婆) favorite treat. My grandma on my father’s side (奶奶) most famous, homemade dessert was her flatbread with red bean paste (dòusha guo bing/豆沙锅饼). The options are endless. I love finding ways to put an Asian twist on my favorite Western desserts – like my Red Bean Tiramisu and Vegan Red Bean Dessert Bars, which is my take of a bite-size, red bean popsicle with a cookie crust.
What’s your favorite way to use red bean paste? Comment below!
Instant Pot Red Bean Paste (Vegan)
- Instant Pot
- 1 cup red beans also called adzuki or azuki beans
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar or to taste
- 1 pinch salt
- Place 1 1/2 cups of red beans in a large bowl with a strainer. Rinse the beans with water. Discard any floating pieces and drain water.
- Add the red beans to the Instant Pot. Pour in 5 cups of water.
- Seal the lid and valve. Select 'Bean/Chili' mode and decrease default time to 25 minutes. Note: the Instant Pot can take up to 15 minutes to reach pressure. From there, it will take 25 minutes to cook.
- When it's done cooking and the timer goes off, let the Instant Pot sit for about 15 minutes, allowing the pressure to naturally release until the valve drops.
- Drain the red beans and place them back in the Instant Pot.
- Press the 'Saute' button and select 'Low.'
- Add 1/4 cup coconut sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved, and paste has reached your desired consistency. Note: the paste will thicken as it cools down.