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Anko Recipe – Japanese Sweet Red Bean Paste

18/01/2021

This easy Anko recipe needs just three ingredients, with no overnight soaking required! Get ready to make all your favourite Japanese desserts with your very own homemade Sweet Red Bean Paste.

Bowl of sweet red bean paste with dango sticks in background.

Why We Love This

Sweet red bean paste is such a staple in so many Japanese dishes, it’s fantastic to have on hand whether you want to make your own mochi or dango.

You only need one pot to cook anko at home, and once it’s ready you can use it straight away or freeze it!

Saucepan full of homemade anko with wooden spoon.

What is Japanese Anko? 

Anko is Japanese style sweet red bean paste made by boiling small red beans called azuki or adzuki beans and sweetened with sugar.

There are two distinct style of Anko in Japan:

  • Tsubuan – This style uses the whole azuki bean, giving it a a coarse texture. It’s roughly mashed and is the what we’ve made today.
  • Koshian – This style is prepared the same way as tsubuan, then passed through a sieve to remove the bean skins leaving the paste with a super smooth texture.

What You’ll Need

You only need three ingredients today! Azuki, sugar and salt.

  • Azuki Beans – Also known as Adzuki, are a very popular red beans used in sweets and desserts in Japan. You can source them at most Asian grocers. Australians can also find them Australian grown at some bulk food shops. They have a less earthy or ‘beany’ flavour than other beans, so they pair well with desserts when sweetened.
  • Sugar – White sugar such as castor or superfine works best.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Check for Sticking – Stir the beans occasionally as you cook to avoid sticking.
  • Set a Timer – Every time you add more water, set a timer for the amount recommended to help you keep an eye on it.
  • Storage – Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing, section it out in portions so you can defrost only what you need.
  • Serving Suggestion – A creative way to eat leftover bean paste is to spread it on toast and top with slices of banana for breakfast. Delicious!

FAQs

What is sweet red bean paste used for?

Sweet red bean paste is most commonly used in South East Asian desserts. This Japanese style is known as anko and is commonly found in mochi, known as daifuku or on top of dango.

Can I use other beans instead of azuki?

If you can’t source azuki, you can make shiroan instead using white kidney beans. Or, mung beans also work in this instance and are popular in Vietnamese desserts such as Che Ba Mau (3 Colour Bean).

Close up view of texture in sweet red bean paste.

Try these Asian Desserts next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Bowl of Japanese anko with dango in the background.

Anko Recipe – Japanese Sweet Red Bean Paste

This easy Anko recipe needs just three ingredients, with no overnight soaking required! Get ready to make all your favourite Japanese desserts with your very own homemade Sweet Red Bean Paste.
Cook Time: 1 hour
Soaking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Condiment, Dessert
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 1092kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup azuki beans 200g / 7oz
  • 1 cup sugar 200g / 7oz
  • 1 pinch salt
  • boiling water enough to cover the beans 1 cm / 1/2 inch above the top
  • 5 cups water

Instructions

  • Wash azuki beans. Pop in a saucepan and cover about 1cm / ½in above the beans with boiling water to allow them to soften for 30 mins.
  • Next place the soaked beans and water on high heat and bring to the boil. Boil down until all the liquid has evaporated (around 15 minutes). Drain any excess water which should look a murky brown red.
  • Add 2 cups of cold water and bring back to boil. Boil for another 15 minutes or until the water level goes below the beans. Stir occasionally to check no beans are sticking. Add another 2 cups of cold water and boil down again for another 15 minutes.
  • Once the water dips below the beans again, it’s time to add your sugar and pinch of salt and put the heat down to low-medium. This will allow the sugar to dissolve in the last of the water and be absorbed by the beans. At this stage the liquid should be dark and gently bubbling amongst the beans.
  • After 10 minutes the liquid should start to thicken. Do a 'smoosh' test first and squeeze an azuki bean to see if it squishes. If your beans aren’t soft enough, add another ½ – 1 cup of water and cook them for one last round (around 10 minutes).
  • Now it’s time to mash, mash, mash! You want a nice consistency where it has a nice balance of smooth and texture.
  • Your sweet red bean paste is now ready to use on your favourite Japanese desserts!

Recipe Notes

  • Ingredients – 
    • Azuki Beans – Also known as Adzuki, are a very popular red beans used in sweets and desserts in Japan. You can source them at most Asian grocers. Australians can also find them Australian grown at some bulk food shops. They have a less earthy or ‘beany’ flavour than other beans, so they pair well with desserts when sweetened.
    • Sugar – White sugar such as castor or superfine works best.
  • Check for Sticking – Stir the beans occasionally as you cook to avoid sticking.
  • Set a Timer – Every time you add more water, set a timer for the amount recommended to help you keep an eye on it.
  • Storage – Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing, section it out in portions so you can defrost only what you need.
  • Serving Suggestion – A creative way to eat leftover bean paste is to spread it on toast and top with slices of banana for breakfast. Delicious!

Nutrition

Calories: 1092kcal | Carbohydrates: 257g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 63mg | Potassium: 1282mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 198g | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 5mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Anko Recipe - Japanese Sweet Red Bean Paste

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