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Anko.

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Simmered sweetened adzuki beans.

I've bought Japanese sweet bean cakes whenever I've been able to find them. They're hard to find over here, as westerners usually don't like them.

There is one Japanese food store in Helsinki, but it's downtown, and I rarely go there. Last time I bought a few such cakes, but that got rather expensive too fast. So I thought, can't be all that difficult, can it? And did a search for Japanese sweet beans. And found a recipe:

Anko

1 cup azuki beans
10 cups water
1/3 cup sugar

Put 4 cups of water in a pan and add azuki beans. Put the pan on high heat and bring to boil. Stop the heat and drain the water. Put 6 cups of water in a pan and add the boiled azuki beans. Put the pan on low heat and simmer the beans for an hour until soften. Take out excess water from the pan and add sugar. Stir the azuki on low heat for a few minutes until thicken. Stop the heat.

So I bought adzuki beans and got to work.
After an hour of simmering the beans were still hard, so I let them boil for a couple more hours.
Then I removed excess water, added sugar, pounded the lot with my potato masher, and got something bland and not very good. There must be something missing - salt perhaps? A dash of butter? Dunno, I'll try again one of these weeks, cos I still have some adzuki beans.

Dunno if I'll want to make yokan instead - that one uses much more sugar, and agar-agar, while this seems pretty simple.

Comments

I've never specifically made anko, but this is from my experience cooking adzuki beans:
-macrobiotics SAY they don't need to be soaked, but just like brown lentils, they cook up way better when soaked a few hours.
-brown sugar is bettter
-they release tonnes of goodies (flavour, colour, starch) into the water--which is great if you're doing a multi-legume/grain porridge, not great if you're pouring the water off. Use minimum water needed.
-I find the butter taste distracting in many Asian desserts (unless, say, you are talking egg tarts) and prefer lard or something else neutrally flavoured. Especially if you're using cultured butter.

In Amurrikin we usually say "red bean"--you might get better hits with that, as there's also sweet black beans and green mung beans crop up quite a bit in desserts, too. Here's a paste recipe with less water, more grease: http://dinnercoop.cs.cmu.edu/dinner...

The canonical southern Chinese recipe (ok, the one I grew up on) is sweet red bean soup: http://www.cooking.com/recipes/stat...
As you can see, even the SOUP recipe uses less water than the 'paste' recipe you tried. Western taste might like a few slices of ginger simmered in there and a pinch of salt at the end. Tasty with looung an, lychee or a heretical spoonful of vanilla yoghurt.

Ooh. Lovely, I'll have to try both the paste and the soup. Thanks, persimmon!



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