Monday, February 23, 2015

Homemade Smooth and Glossy / Koshian 漉し餡 Red Bean Paste / Hong Dou Sha 红豆沙

"Mum, can you make red bean steamed buns for me?" asked my boy.

With some hesitation, I said ok...

Hesitation? Ops! Hope that I'm not in the spotlight of any judgement here... Please don't get me wrong as I'm usually the sort of mum who cook or bake anything that my boy wants. However, knowing that the commercially made store bought red bean paste can be loaded with heaps of sugar and unknown source of fat, I did paused for a while before agreeing to make any red bean steamed buns.

At times, I really don't mind having occasion indulgence with store-bought red bean steamed buns, knowing that a couple of these "not-so-healthy" buns wouldn't cause much dramatic harm. However, if I'm making at least a dozen of red bean steamed buns, I will feel extremely guilty feeding my boy and his heart a big mass of greasy and sweet red bean paste.

Why not making my own red bean paste then??? Logically, yes but I do ask myself... Why am I so crazy doing that? Since I'm crazy enough to make my own black sesame seed paste, so why not making my own red bean paste? For my boy and our health, I think I should give this idea a try...

Accordingly to Nami from Just One Cookbook, sweet red bean paste, also known as Anko (in Japanese) or Hong Dou Sha (红豆沙 in Chinese) is usually prepared by boiling, mashing azuki beans and sweetening with sugar. Thee most common types that the Japanese consume are Koshian and Tsubuan. Koshian is the smoother type of paste that are made by passing through a sieve to remove skins from the beans while Tsubuan is the coarser kind of paste made without removing skins from the beans. For my convenience, I could have choose to make Tsubuan kind of paste which is the easier and fuss free kind of paste to make but eventually choose make Koshian kind of paste (with the most possible healthy options) to meet my fussy husband and boy's standards...

Boy: Your red bean paste must be very smooth with no skins...
Man: Your red bean bao must be WHITE and FLUFFY like this...
My husband showed a picture from Google image search from Happy Home Baking.
Me (or maid): Yes, sir! Yes, sir!
And yes... I was saying my yeses with two bows. Geez!

This is how I made my Koshian kind of red bean paste. In my next post, I will use the healthiest form of this paste to make my red bean bao using the bao recipe from Happy Home Baking. So stay tuned...

homemade smooth and glossy koshian red bean paste
Homemade smooth and glossy red bean paste
To make red bean paste, I need these cute little red beans!!!
Due to quarantine issues, these beans that I used are made in Australia.
And, I wonder if there is any difference if I use red beans from other countries.
This will help to cook bean faster.
To test, give a bean a squeeze with your fingers. If it is mushy, it is tender enough for mashing business.
I know it is a pain to do this but it is an essential step to make a smooth paste.
With minimal amount of oil and sugar, I have managed to cook a nice and smooth paste.
Ready!!! The paste can be rolled into a nice and smooth ball and can be used now as bun filling.

At this stage, I reckon this is the healthiest form of red bean filling that I can make. It is not sweet and just firm enough to make red bean steamed buns for my boy.

"Mum, I like these red bean buns but ... " said my boy with a guilty face.

My boy is trying to be appreciative and also diplomatic but can't deny the fact that he prefers the sweeter and oilier kind of red bean paste.

Alright, boy! Mum gets your message!

And so I have enhanced the paste further with moderate amount of fat and sugar... Just enough to make it smooth and glossy enough for my boy to appreciate. This is the case that I'm always in a constant dilemma of cooking food with either healthy or full flavour options... Sad to say that I always can't have both but this is the best that I can cook with the healthiest kind of oil that I can use.

This is 1 cup of paste that I have made earlier.
I added vegetable oil tablespoon by tablespoon until I was satisfied with its smoothness.
This is one ingredient that I can't avoid - Sugar!!!
I can't make the paste better without adding extra oil and sugar! Ai ya!!!

This is the healthiest form of red bean paste that is mostly adapted from Epicurious and

From this healthiest form, I had enhanced the paste to a smoother and glossy Koshian 漉し餡 / Hong Dou Sha 红豆沙 Red Bean Paste.

Makes about 700g or 4 cups of paste
1 pack of red azuki beans, 375g
200g dark muscovado sugar / dark brown sugar or white sugar*
3 tbsp vegetable oil with smooth and velvety texture

*I have choose to use dark muscovado sugar for its darker colour and flavour. This amount of sugar added has given sufficient sweetness to the paste. You need to add more if you preferred the paste to be sweeter and the additional amount to add will be mentioned later.

Note: Typically, most Chinese mooncake or pastry kind of red bean paste contains alkaline water, maltose and also edible green vitriol to darken its colour but I like to omit these ingredients to keep my paste healthy and as natural as possible.

Wash the beans with water. Place them in container with excess amount of cold water, and soak overnight at room temperature with a cover.

On the next day, drain beans and discard water.

Place beans in a large boiling pot with sufficient amount of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot and allow beans to simmer for 1-2 hr, or until very soft and tender.

When the beans are cooked, drain them thoroughly over a sieve and discard the boiling water. Press beans through a sieve by batches. Collect the pressed through bean paste and discard all the skins that are trapped on the sieve surfaces.

Mix bean paste, oil and sugar well in a wide surface frying pan. Cook the paste with medium low heat with stirring in every 2-3 mins, or until the mixture is dry and forms a doughy paste. Remove from heat.
Use the paste when it is cooled completely. To store, wrap it in portions and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in a freezer up to 3 months or until ready to use.

Want red bean paste that to be smooth, glossy or flowy??? Instead of storing your paste in fridge or freezer, you need to continue to do this...

For every 1 cup of the above paste, you need:
1/4 cup vegetable oil with smooth and velvety texture
1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar

Please note that this extra amount of oil and sugar make the texture of red bean paste that my boy likes. If you prefer the paste to be more or less sweeter or oilier, please adjust the amount accordingly.

Place paste in a medium saucepan. Stir in oil and cook the paste with low heat. Stir and cook until well combined.

While cooking with low heat, stir in sugar into the paste and the mixture will appear to be "wet". If you prefer a flowy paste, cook just a little to dissolve the sugar into the paste. If you prefer a firmer paste, continue to cook until mixture forms a doughy paste. Remove from heat.

Use the paste when it is cooled completely. To store, wrap it in portions and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in a freezer up to 3 months or until ready to use

Don't like the efforts of pressing the beans through the sieve?

There is another method that I have seen at My Little Space that purée the beans thoroughly with good amount of liquid and doesn't require pressing the paste through the sieve. The disadvantage is that I would need extra time to cook the paste until it thicken with most of its liquid vaporise. Nevertheless, I love to give this method a try in the near future.

According to Kristy from My Little Space, I have learnt that I have to add at least more than 1 cup of oil to 375g of beans in order to get an ultimate smooth and glossy paste like hers. Yes that I have been rather stingy with my oil and sugar addition as the amount of oil added in mine (the healthiest one) is actually five times lesser than her suggested amount. For my boy, I will probably use Kristy's suggested amount of oil if I'm making red bean paste again. However, knowing me... I always prefer anything that is less in oil and sugar. Nevertheless, we'll see when I try Kristy's recipe.

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  1. Gong Hei Fatt Choy Zoe! I love anything red bean.. I usually boil red bean tongsui only.. There will be no leftovers, so I usually scoop some to pour into lollies moulds.. Nice to eat on a hot weather.. I love hong dau sha bao too, I love it really sweet, the sweeter the better :)

  2. Zoe, you are very patient & good to make your own filling paste.
    I wish you and your family have a fruitful and prosperous goat year ahead :)

  3. How gorgeous! Making your own red bean paste I'd imagine you can adjust the thickness/sweetness and then go straight into making dumplings, kuehs and other goodies!

  4. Looks great!!! Homemade is best always!

  5. Zoe, I understand your delimma. As mum and cook, you want to give the best but family members prefer the tastier and not so healthy ones. I like the red bean paste you have made, how I wish I am as diligent as you are. I love red bean paste bao but not too sweet ones. Actually I love anything red bean. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to your next post.

  6. Gorgeous one..... Homemade always wins.... :)

  7. Hehe you have two very demanding boys in your house... and you always deliver!

  8. Hi Zoe,
    I had similar experience as you. My homemade red bean paste is not as sweet and oily as the one bought from the store. It tasted dry, but I just could not add more sugar and oil during cooking :)

    I will make one more time these days, following your suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Zoe, this is wonderful! Now I know how to make red bean paste and best of all it can be frozen for future use. Thank you!

  10. Nice! very nice! I now crave mochi with this koshian. I always buy red bean paste from Asian market for the convenience. Since yours look so much nicer, I would like to try it.

  11. Hi Zoe,
    I make my own red bean paste too after considered how much oil and sugar have added in the store bought ones.
    Your family is blessed to have a brilliant maid like you... LoL
    Homemade is always the best!

  12. Hi Zoe, how long do i need to cook the paste. I want to make mooncake using home made red bean paste.

    1. Hi Rowena,

      I can't really tell you the exact time that you need to cook the paste as it depends on the humidity of your place, the quantity that you are cooking and also the moisture of your cooked bean. As this method that I used contains least amount of water from the cooked bean, I can assure you that it won't be as long as cooking pineapple paste :)