Anko is the iconic sweet red bean paste for Japanese desserts made with azuki beans. It comes in smooth and chunky styles and is an essential ingredient in traditional and modern sweets like mochi, ice cream, pastries, and dessert soup.
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 a nutrient-rich dessert containing dietary 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 a 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. For a fusion dessert, you could also top your morning toast or pancakes with the paste.
What Does It Taste Like
It has a creamy texture and flavor, like sweet potatoes. It’s sweet from the addition of sugar.
Types of Red Bean Paste
There are different types of red bean paste in a spectrum of consistencies. It ultimately comes down to personal preference, like chunky vs. creamy peanut butter.
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 the whole beans intact.
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 skins.
The texture is between Tsubu-an and Koshi-an. Some of the beans are mashed with the skins intact.
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 in addition to serving as a sweetener. If you reduce the sugar, consume it quickly as it will spoil.
- 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 a Pressure Cooker
Learn 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 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to two months. You can divide and wrap 100g of the bean paste in plastic film and store it in a freezer bag.
To use, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.