Dry azuki beans.
Azuki (adzuki, aduki) 小豆 means “small beans” in Japanese. They are very small, they can be cooked quicker.
The 3 most common uses are to make the many sorts of Japanese wagashi sweets (and sweets in other Asian countries too, there are azuki filled Chinese mooncakes), to make sweet bean porridge snacks and to prepare “red rice”.
My red rice , some wagashi (that I bought) and home-made zenzai porridge.
Beans are a good source of proteins, especially as I try to get at least half of my protein intake from vegetal sources. Cans and pouches of already cooked beans are OK once in a while, but they tend to contain too much salt, or sugar, or both, or many weird flavorings. It’s not complicated to cook dry beans, and freeze them. I don’t find (or not at “normal” prices) the European and American species of beans, so I often substitute with Japanese beans in non-Japanese recipes.
Cooking the beans :
-Wash your dry beans under fresh water. Put them in a bowl with 4 times their volume of water (you can add a small amount of baking soda), let them several hours, till they double of volume.
-Put the beans and their water in a big pot, bring to a boil, take away the foam on surface.
-Add a cup of very cold water, cover and let the beans cook on low heat.
-Stop when the beans are soft (from 20 to 80 minutes… depending on beans and their age…often 30 minutes for azuki)
Sweet beans :
Japanese proportion according books : weight your dry beans before washing them, take the same weight + 10% of powder sugar. The result will be as sweet as jam.
How to do :
When the beans are soft, take off the excess of liquid, just let a little amount. Add 1/2 or 1/3 of the sugar, simmer on very low heat for 5~10 minutes till the sugar melts. Add the second part of sugar…
Depending on the type of dessert, you let more or less liquid, and you take care (or not) to keep the shape of the beans. Wagashi (Japanese sweets) don’t vary so much in taste but their design is often very refined. It’s an art to keep the bean shape perfect, or to paste them with the perfect texture or color.
(Sweet) side dish :
Bigger beans are often served as a small side dish. In this case, after the last part of sugar is cooked, add a little soy sauce.
I sweeten my beans differently.
For desserts, I add a few tbs of brown sugar (kurozato) syrup to already cooked and drained beans.
As a side dish, I reheat them in a little honey and soy sauce, or in mirin and soy sauce.
It’s not as sweet as the original, but I precisely makes mine because I cannot eat the wagashi from shops so often.
You can find azuki already cooked in Japanese groceries over the world. They are sold in cans of plastic pouches of “anko” (sweet bean paste). That can be tsubuan or koshian. Kansai (Osaka) people are supposed to prefer tsubuan, and Kanto (Tokyo) prefer koshian.
Tsubuan : crashed sweet beans
Koshian : beans crashed, then passed through a sieve.