Sunday, 1 September 2019

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How to Make Healthy & Nutritious Chinese Red Bean Paste Sweetened with Dates?/红豆沙 [hóngdòu shā]


It's soon Chinese Mid Autumn Festival. This year, it falls on Friday 13 September 2019. J requested me to make moon cakes together. We can get moon cakes from the Chinatown here, but J wanted to make it ourselves, as he is health conscious. Store-bought moon cakes are full of sugar, fat and preservatives. It's best to make your own moon cakes that are healthier and nutritious at the same time. Red bean filling sweetened with dates for the moon cakes are both tasty, nutritious and readily available.

Ingredients:

Red Bean Paste:

1. 2 cups (400 g) dried adzuki beans
2. 8 cups (2 L) water for cooking the beans
3. 8-10 dried dates pitted for half portion, if you want a chunky version of the red bean paste, leaving the other half of the cooked beans unblended. If you are blending all the cooked adzuki beans into a smooth paste, then use 16-20 pitted dried dates.

Sweet Milk (optional):

1. 1 cup (250 ml) fresh low fat 0.1% milk
2. 3 dried dates pitted

Directions:

1. Rinse the adzuki beans, place them in a pot and add 8 cups of water.
2. Bring to boil, lower heat to medium (no. 4 on my stove) and simmer for an hour, or until beans are soft enough that you can easily mash them with a fork. Watch occasionally and add more water as needed.
3. Drain the beans and let cool (but keep the liquid as it is very nutritious and you can use it to make soup or to adjust the consistency of your paste.)
4. To sweeten the beans, blend half of the cooked beans with dried dates. If the blender doesn't blend well, you can add a bit of the liquid left-over from cooking the beans.

5. To make the sweet milk, blend 1 cup of fresh milk with the dried dates for 30 seconds to a minute to make a sweet milk.
6. To serve, a tablespoon of the cooked whole adzuki beans and two tablespoons of the blended adzuki beans paste "Anko" into a bowl for each guest.
7. Add 1/4 cup of the sweet milk into the bowl and serve :-)

Ways to Consume Adzuki beans:

1. Add sweet milk over as a dessert.
2. Make into red bean milkshake.
3. Freeze as red bean ice-cream.
4. Eat it with some milk and oat grains for breakfast.
5. Spread it on a piece of bread for breakfast.
6. Use them as filling for pastry such as the Chinese moon cakes.

Additional Information:

Chinese red bean paste, hong dou sha, more commonly known by the Japanese name "Anko". It is made with adzuki beans and is a key ingredient used in many Chinese dessert and pastry. One cup of dried adzuki beans yields roughly 2 cups after cooking. In general, to cook the beans, it works using 1 part beans with 4 parts water. Some recipes recommend soaking the beans, but I don't find it necessary, nor is it necessary to remove the skin after cooking. In fact, the skin is usually the most nutrient dense part of the beans.

I use dates to sweeten it, instead of sugar. Dates are high in fiber and potassium, and is a form of natural sugar. However, everything is relative. Although natural sugar is better than refined sugar, it is still sugar. Thus, moderation is the key to health. The sweetness quotient:

Lightly sweet = 1 dried date to 1/2 cup cooked beans (I use this for myself)
Semi-sweet = 2 dried dates to 1/2 cup cooked beans (I use this for my family)
Perfect sweet = 3 dried dates to 1/2 cup cooked beans (I use this when serving guests)
Super sweet = 4 dried dates to 1/2 cup cooked beans (I use this when serving guest with very sweet tooth)

References:

https://pickledplum.com/sweet-red-bean-paste-anko/
https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/cooking-cookware/cooking-with-adzuki-beans/

You will need natural dried dates. It cost 25 DKK for a pack of 600 g at Netto or Lidl supermarket at the vegetable section.

Rinse the adzuki beans. Add to a pot with 2 litres of water. Bring to boil, lower heat to medium (no. 4 on my stove) and simmer for an hour, or until beans are soft enough that you can easily mash them with a fork. Watch occasionally and add more water as needed.

After an hour or so, it is done :-)

1 cup of cooked adzuki beans (Anko) weighs approx. 225 g.

 After the cooked beans have cooled down, place half portion of the cooked beans (about 2.5 cups)  and 10 dried dates pitted into the blender.

If you are using Magimix blender like mine, use the dessert program and 

use the spatula to wipe down the mixture to the center while blending. Blend for 30 seconds or one minute for the full dessert cycle.

Now it's done :-) I like mine a little chunky. If you wish to have a finer consistency, run one more cycle of the dessert program.

Close-up :-)

You can also use a hand blender to blend your cooked beans. The consistency looks like the above. After trying out both, I try it easier to use a hand blender to blend beans, then using a jug blender.

To make the sweet milk:

To make the sweet milk that go along with the Anko, add three dried dates pitted to one cup of fresh milk.

 Blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute using the smoothie program or just no. 2 on the manual dial.

Ways to use the Anko:

1. Red Bean Dessert

To make the red bean dessert, take one scoop of the red bean paste using an ice-cream scoop and place on a serving bowl. Next pour the sweet milk over to lightly cover the red bean paste. Sprinkle some chopped almonds and serve :-)

2. Make Red Bean Milkshake


To make red bean milk shake, add 1 cup of milk and 1 TBS Anko, and blend into smoothie.

pour into a glass, and the red bean milkshake is ready to be served :-)

3. Red Bean Ice-Cream

If you are making ice-cream, take a portion of the red bean paste and add more dates and then blend it to make it even sweeter. I took a portion that is enough for two popsicles and added three more dates. Transfer to ice-cream container and freeze overnight.

9 August 2019: Baby FECS enjoying the Singaporean red bean ice-cream as part of our Singapore national Day celebration :-) And she absolutely loved it :-) I mean both the ice-cream and the celebration.

4. Red Bean Breakfast

To make a nutritious and tasty red bean breakfast, scoop into a small bowl some red bean paste, add fresh milk and topped with cooked oat groats and a sprinkling of wheat germ, wheat bran and sunflower seeds.

5. Spread on Bread

 Spread the red bean paste like jam on a piece of bread for breakfast

You can also sprinkle a little oat groats or wheat germ on top.

10 August 2019 (3Y2M24D): Baby FECS loved it for lunch. She ate 3 pieces, the other two pieces sprinkled with oats groats.

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