Like every mom, I am constantly thinking of what kind of snacks to offer my kids in the afternoon. As I wanted to expand their taste to different snacks from around the world that is age-appropriate for their taste buds, I often return to the old faithful red bean paste made from red beans, sugar and a little oil. Like many colored beans, red beans is high in vitamin B, and has high antioxidant properties, so it's an added bonus in the kids' snacks.
In Asia, red bean paste is used to make a variety of desserts and snacks from fillings in freshly made buns sold at the bakery to fried snacks and steamed buns. Although it's available in ready-made cans, the home-made ones are my favorite as the taste is much better, and I can adjust the sweetness of the paste to my liking.
Making red bean paste is a straight forward process of cooking the beans in water, then adding sugar and blending it in the food processor, and finally cooking it again in a big wok with some vegetable oil. As I usually estimate the quantity when making this in the past, I decided to try this recipe from Grace Young's book Wisdom in the Chinese Kitchen, and it worked quite well.
12 ounces small red beans hoong dul or azuki red beans,about 2 cups
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbs vegetable oil Wash the beans, cover the cold water, and soak overnight. Drain beans and discard water. Place beans in a 3-quart saucepan, add 6 cups cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 hour, or until very soft. Monitor the pan to make sure water doesn't dry up. Drain and discard the water.
Place the beans in a food processor and process until smooth. Add brown sugar and process until just combined. In a non-stick wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the bean paste and cook, stirring 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture is dry. Remove from heat. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use and it will keep for 1 week.
Recipe doubled from Grace Yong's Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen
Note: To speed up the process, I used the pressure cooker to cook the beans after soaking them. The above recipe yields 3 cups which I use for different recipes like make steamed buns. I also freeze 1-cup portions in the freezer for future use. It will keep longer in the freezer.