A sweet reddish-brown paste that’s either smooth or chunky, red bean paste, or anko/an, is an essential player in traditional Japanese and modern desserts like ice cream and pastries.
Anko (餡子,あんこ), or (餡, あん), is a sweet red bean paste made from azuki beans. It’s one of the essential ingredients for wagashi. It’s also loaded with nutrients, such as fiber, folate, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Table of contents
- What Is Anko (Red Bean Paste)
- Types of Red Bean Paste
- How to Make Red Bean Paste (Anko) from Scratch
- How to Make Red Bean Paste (Anko) in Pressure Cooker
- Recipes Using Red Bean Paste (Anko)
- How To Store
What Is Anko (Red Bean Paste)
Anko, or red bean paste, is used in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean desserts. It’s made by boiling azuki beans/adzuki beans with sugar and a pinch of salt. The Japanese use the sweetened paste in many traditional Japanese sweets, such as Daifuku Mochi, Dango, Dorayaki, Taiyaki, Manju, Zenzai, and Anpan. You could also top your morning toast or pancakes with the paste for a fusion dessert.
What Does It Taste
It has a creamy texture and flavor like sweet potatoes. The beans are not naturally sweet and are sweetened with brown or white sugar during the cooking process.
Types of Red Bean Paste
There are different types of red bean paste in a spectrum of consistencies. Like chunky vs. creamy peanut butter, it’s a personal preference.
Chunky Red Bean Paste – Tsubu-an (つぶ餡, つぶあん)
Tsubu-an (つぶあん) is a chunky paste. It’s made by cooking the beans until soft but leaving whole beans intact without pureeing until smooth.
Fine Red Bean Paste – Koshi-an (こし餡, こしあん)
Koshi-An (こしあん) is very smooth, pureed azuki beans. The beans are cooked until soft and passed through a sieve for a smooth texture without the bean skins.
The texture is between Tsubu-an and Koshi-an where some of the beans are mashed with the skins.
Traditionally, Ogura-an (小倉あん) was made with Koshi-an mixed with Tsubuan and cooked in sweet syrup. It’s made with Dainagon Azuki Beans (大納言小豆), the highest quality of azuki beans.
How to Make Red Bean Paste (Anko) from Scratch
While commercial anko is a modern convenience, you can also make it homemade. You can adjust the sugar ratio to your preference. Note that sugar is to preserve the paste. If you reduce the sugar, use it quickly.
- Red Bean Paste (Anko) – both recipes for Chunky (Tsubuan) and Fine (Koshian)
- White Bean Paste (Shiroan) – made of lima beans (butter beans).
How to Make Red Bean Paste (Anko) in Pressure Cooker
Learn how to make Tsubu-an and Koshi-an with a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
Recipes Using Red Bean Paste (Anko)
How To Store
If you’re not using the paste immediately, transfer it to an airtight container. Store it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to two months. You can also divide and wrap 100g portions of the bean paste in plastic film and store it in a freezer bag.
To use, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.