Apart from coffee, our favourite bean would have to be the humble azuki bean. The azuki bean is used in a range of Japanese desserts but the tastiest form of azuki must be Tsubushian.
Tsubushian is a chunky style of red bean paste where the beans are mashed with the skins left on. It’s simple to make – the beans are cooked, drained, mashed and then sweetened. You can vary the methods and amounts of mashing to create various textures. A little kuzu starch may also be added. Basic recipe follows…
- 250gm azuki beans
- 190gm white Japanese sugar
- 1.2L filtered water for boiling + water for soaking
- 6gm sea salt
The night before
Soak beans overnight in a medium pot. Add enough water to cover beans plus a few inches more.
The next day
- Bring pot to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. This takes away a little of the bitterness and colour from the beans. Drain beans and return them to pot.
- Add 1.2L filtered water to the pot. Bring to boil and reduce heat to a simmer until beans are tender – about 45 minutes to 1 hour. You may need to top up water during this time to stop them from drying out. Stir occasionally.
- Turn off the heat and place the lid on the pan for about 15 minutes.
- Drain beans keeping both beans and water for later use.
- Put beans back in the pot and mash with the back of a ladle or wooden spoon so there’s a mix of whole beans and bean mash.
- Add sugar (more or less to taste) and salt that has been dissolved in 100ml of the cooking water.
- Cook beans over a medium heat and stir frequently until a paste has formed – approx 15 mins, adding some of the reserved cooking water if necessary.
- Put paste in a bowl and cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
- In the last stage of cooking when creating the paste, remember it will thicken as it cools, so adjust the cooking time to suit your application.
- Adjust the consistency to suit the application. Eg. You will need quite thick paste for Daifuku.
- To make a smooth paste called Koshian, blend the beans and water just after the second cooking and then strain through a sieve. Discard solids and add sugar and simmer until thick and glossy.
What to do with it
- Add to toast with peanut butter for something different
- Add to vanilla or green tea icecream
- Use as a filling for Japanese sweets such as daifuku and dorayaki