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Red Bean (Azuki) Paste (Free of Top Allergens)

My mom loves red bean. Growing up, our pantry was always stocked with at least a bag or two of dried red beans. We regularly had red bean steamed buns, red bean soup, red bean glutinous rice balls (recipe here), red bean pancakes, red bean and rice; see a common theme?

As a child I loved red bean. But I went through a phase in my 20s when I was not a fan of red bean and would cringe every time I see it. I guess after many years of not eating it ALL. THE. TIME., I started liking red bean again.

Recently, for Chinese New Year, I made Sweet Red Bean Glutinous Rice Balls. It brought back good memories of my childhood as I carefully bit into each glutinous rice ball and savored the smooth sweet red bean paste.

This red bean paste recipe is easy but requires some time to soak and cook the red beans. Traditionally, red bean paste does not have butter in it (at least not my mom's version) but I like the addition of butter in red bean paste as it adds a richer taste. My little man ate a bowl of red bean paste on its own and kept asking for more. I guess he must take after grandma.

400 g (13 oz) dried red beans
Cold water
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 tbsp butter or vegetable oil

The Night Before
1. Soak the beans in a large bowl or container overnight for at least 8 hours. Cover the red beans with at least 1 inch of cold water.

The Next Day
2. Discard any red beans that float to the surface. Drain and rinse the red beans.

3. In a large pot, add the red beans and enough water to cover the pot by 1 inch.

4. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to simmer for an hour until the red beans are soft and easily mashed with a spoon.

5. Transfer 1/3 of the cooked red beans to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add a little of the reserved cooking liquid or water if needed. If you are using a blender, you will need to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times. Repeat until all of the red bean has been pureed.

6. Over medium heat, add the pureed red beans, butter and sugar to a large pan. If you are using vegetable oil, heat the vegetable oil first in a large pan over medium heat before adding the red beans and sugar.

7. Cook until the paste is thick (similar to the consistency of tomato paste). Allow the red bean paste to cool completely before using. The pureed red bean paste can be refrigerated for a week or frozen up to a month.

Oh the possibilities of all the things you can make!
Source: Slightly adapted from China Sichuan Food

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