Saturday, October 22, 2011

Red Bean Dessert

I tend to poke about the kitchen a lot more on weekends.

Sweet red bean dessert with dried longan and rock sugar


Cooking is my therapy. It gets me away from computers and the Internet for two days.

Today, I made some red bean dessert for tea. Yes, for tea.

We Chinese like our desserts for those in-between meal times.

Actually you could drink/slurp this dessert any time of the day. For me, it just so happened that the dessert was ready around 4pm and tea it was.

Red beans or adzuki beans are commonly used in Asian food. In Chinese cuisine, red beans are normally eaten in sweet form, but I have eaten it as a soup, a savoury version when my Mom-in-law boiled it as a soup with pork bones. Nic was aghast at the taste but like a dutiful son, he drank up the soup though he did tell me privately that it was rather weird to have a savoury red bean soup. I thought so too. All my life, I've grown up drinking a sweet red bean dessert so savoury red beans do taste odd!

Red bean dessert is simple to make. You do need, however, to soak the beans in water for a few hours before you cook them. I heard this soaking reduces flatulence (they are beans anyway) but mostly it helps 'soften' the red beans.

I used my claypot for this recipe because I was only cooking a small cup of red beans, enough for two people. But then again, I will caution you - it depends on how watery or how thick you want your red bean dessert to be. Some people like a thick, gooey porridge-like red bean dessert. I like a more watered down version. It's more of a drink than a porridge.



Put your soaked red beans (100 gm), rock sugar (50gm or adjust to your taste) and a handful of dried longan into a pot of water (1 liter). Bring the pot to a boil and then cover and simmer for an hour. After an hour, you need to test if the red beans are soft. If they are not soft yet, let it simmer for another hour. Once ready, serve warm.

The good thing about using a claypot is its heat retention. It softens the beans in an hour. If you do not have a claypot, you can use a slow cooker or crockpot too.

I found this recipe for adzuki bean tea where one drinks it like a tea! You can try this version of red bean soup by author Letha Hadady (whose book - Asian Health Secrets - was one of the earliest books I had on Chinese herbs).


Why Eat Red Beans?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, aduki or adzuki or red beans are known for their “strengthening” qualities and yang energy. Red beans are good for blood-building as they're full of iron. Its high iron content also makes them a good choice for women’s health. In Japan, adzuki bean soups are often consumed after menstruation to replenish red blood cells. 

Red beans are also used to support kidney and bladder function.

Besides, red beans are a good source of magnesium, potassium, zinc copper, manganese and B vitamins. They are a high-potassium, low-sodium food which means they can help reduce blood pressure and act as a natural diuretic. 

Like all beans, they are a good protein substitute and contain lots of soluble fibre, which binds to toxins and cholesterol, eliminating these from your body. 

Adzuki beans are also used in some TCM fertility treatments. 

However, I have also read that you cannot overconsume red beans as they will make you emaciated and dry (as it promotes urination). 

In my recipe above, I added dried longan because it adds a different texture to the dessert plus it contributes a delicate sweetness. Dried longans are also useful in preventing hair loss and hair greying so all the better!



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