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Red bean paste
||Azuki bean paste
|Place of origin
||Azuki beans, sugar or honey
Red bean paste or Azuki bean paste is a dark red, sweet bean paste originating from China. It is used in Chinese cuisine, Japanese confectionery, and Korean cuisine. It is prepared by boiling and mashing azuki beans and then sweetening the paste with sugar or honey. The husk of the beans may be removed by sieving before sweetening, which leads to a smoother and more homogeneous paste.
Red bean paste is graded according to its consistency. In Chinese cuisine, the most common types are:
- Mashed: Azuki beans are boiled with sugar and mashed. The paste is smooth with bits of broken beans and bean husk. Depending on the intended texture, the beans can be vigorously or lightly mashed. Some unmashed beans can also be added back into the bean paste for additional texture. This is the most common and popular type of red bean paste eaten in Chinese confections. Can also be eaten on its own or in sweet soups.
- Smooth: Azuki beans are boiled without sugar, mashed, and diluted into a slurry. The slurry is then strained through a sieve to remove the husk, filtered, and squeezed dry using cheesecloth. Although, the dry paste can be directly sweetened and used, Oil, either vegetable oil or lard, is usually used to cook the dry paste and improve its texture and mouth feel. Smooth bean paste is mainly found as fillings for Chinese pastries.
In Japanese cuisine, the most common types are:
- Tsubuan (粒餡), whole red beans boiled with sugar but otherwise untreated
- Tsubushian (潰し餡), where the beans are mashed after boiling
- Koshian (漉し餡), which has been passed through a sieve to remove bean skins; the most common type
- Sarashian (晒し餡), which has been dried and reconstituted with water
In Japanese, a number of names are used to refer to red bean paste; these include an (餡), anko (餡子), and ogura (小倉). Strictly speaking, the term an can refer to almost any sweet, edible, mashed paste, although without qualifiers red beans are assumed. Common alternatives include shiroan (白餡), made from Japanese white beans (白いんげん豆 shiro-ingenmame), and kurian (栗餡), made from chestnuts.
Similarly, the Chinese term dòu shā (豆沙), applies to red bean paste when used without qualifiers, although hóngdòu shā (紅豆沙) explicitly means "red bean paste."
Red bean paste is used in many Chinese foods, such as:
- Red bean soup (紅豆湯/紅豆沙; pinyin: hóng dòu tāng / hóng dòu shā): Red bean paste with more water added to form a tong sui, or thick, sweet soup. Often cooked and eaten with tangyuan and lotus seeds. This is almost always a dessert.
- Tangyuan (湯圓, pinyin: tāng yúan): Glutinous rice balls filled with sweet fillings such as red bean paste and boiled in plain or sweetened water
- Zongzi (粽子; pinyin: zòng zi): Glutinous rice and red bean paste wrapped with bamboo leaves and steamed or boiled. The glutinous rice used to make zongzi is usually specially prepared and appears yellow.
- Mooncakes (月餅; yùe bĭng): A baked pastry consisting of thin dough surrounding a filling. The filling is traditionally made from various ingredients, including mashed lotus seeds, red bean paste, or other fillings. The texture of this filling is quite similar to straight red bean paste. It is most commonly eaten during the Mid Autumn Festival.
- Bāozi (豆沙包; pinyin: dòu shā bāo): Steamed leavened bread filled with a variety of savoury or sweet fillings
- Jiān dui (煎堆): Fried pastry made from glutinous rice flour, sometimes filled with red bean paste
- Red bean cake (Chinese: 红豆糕; pinyin: hóng dòu gāo)
- Red bean pancake
Red bean paste is used in many Japanese sweets.
- Anmitsu, a dessert consisting of red bean paste, small cubes of agar jelly, and pieces of fruit served with syrup.
- Anpan, a sweet bun filled with red bean paste.
- Daifuku, a confection consisting of a small round rice cake stuffed with red bean paste.
- Dango, a dumpling made from rice flour topped with red bean paste.
- Dorayaki, a confection consisting of two small pancake-like patties made from castella wrapped around a filling of red bean paste.
- Manjū, a steamed cake filled with red bean paste.
- Oshiruko or Zenzai, azuki bean soup, commonly served with rice cake.
- Taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake stuffed with red bean paste.
- Yōkan, a thick jellied dessert made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar.
Red bean paste is used in various Korean snack foods and desserts; including:
Cultural use 
- The Naruto character Anko Mitarashi is derived from Anko, meaning sweetened red bean paste and mitarashi dango, which happens to be her favorite food.
- The cartoon hero Anpanman is an anthropomorphic anpan bun filled with azuki bean paste.
- In Natsume Sōseki's classic novel I Am a Cat, Prof. Sneeze is addicted to red bean jam, on which his wife blames both his dyspepsia and the family's unaffordable food bills.
- The Deadman Wonderland character Shiro is fond of red bean paste buns and often uses her points earned in competitions to buy them.
See also