Red Adzuki or Azuki Beans for Asian Dishes

Posted on 18 Jul 2015 15:52

Red adzuki (azuki, aduki, adsuki) or Vigna angularis is a cousin the the North American kidney beans and small red beans. They are also sometimes called adanka. They are a native of India or Japan and have been used in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooking for over 2000 years. Adzuki are used especially for sweet cakes and other delicacies, as well as sweet and savory dishes. The name adzuki comes from the Japanese word for the plant, azuki. They have a less beany flavor than other beans. In Japan, they are known as "the king of beans."


How are Adzuki Beans Used?

The taste of adzuki beans, unlike most other beans, is sweet. In cooking, pastes are made from the bean that are to fill cakes, breads, or dumplings. They are also dried and made into a meal to make cakes or other confections, as well as for use in soups or as a milk substitute. They are sometimes cooked whole and served with rice. The beans can be popped like corn, and, when roasted, can be used as coffee substitute. In Asia, red azuki beans are traditionally served at special occasions like New Years, weddings, or birthdays.

Closeup of red adzuki or azuki beans

Red Adzuki Beans
Image by 草花写真館 via wikimedia

Closeup of red adzuki or azuki beans

Red Adzuki Beans
Image by 草花写真館 via wikimedia

A typical Japanese dish for adzuki beans is Chamanju (cha-mahn-joo), which is sweet adzuki bean paste formed into balls, covered with a flour dough, and steamed. Chamanju is served with afternoon tea. In China they are used for moon cakes or Chinese New Year dumplings.

In Korea, adzuki beans, which the Koreans call pat, are used to make dongji-patjuk, or red bean porridge with rice cake balls. It is tradionally served during Dongjitnal, the winter solstice festival, on December 22. The balls, which look like little bird's eggs, symbolize new life and prosperity to the Koreans and the red color of the porridge is believed to ward off evil spirits. The dish is also found year-round as a snack and found in food stalls or at food courts in malls.

Red azuki beans being made into a paste for Japanese sweets

Red Azuki Bean Paste Being Used for Sweets in Kyoto, Japan

Red azuki beans being made into a paste for Japanese sweets

Red Azuki Bean Paste Being Used for Sweets in Kyoto, Japan

Adzuki beans can often be found in large supermarkets, in Asian markets, or you can purchase them online.

Korean Dongji-Patjuk - Korean Red Bean Porridge with Rice Cake Balls Recipe

Adapted from Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking: Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook


1 cup dried adzuki beans
10 cups water
2 tsp kosher salt

(rice cake balls)
2 1/4 cups glutinous rice flour (chapssal-garu)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs sugar
1 cup boiling water


To make the porridge:

Sort through the dried beans to check for pebbles or discolored beans, the wash and drain well. Combine the beans with the water in a large pot and cook on high heat for 30 minutes. Lower heat to low and let the beans simmer until they are very soft and can be easily mashed into a paste (about 1 1/2 hours).

Set a sieve strainer over a bowl and pour the cooked beans and the water into strainer (do not drain off the water, let it remain in bowl). Using a spoon, mash the beans through the strainer into the bowl. The bean skins will remain in the strainer and can be discarded. Transfer the mashed beans and water into a medium-sized pot.

To make the rice cake balls:

In a bowl, mix together 2 cups of the rice flour, the salt and the sugar. Add the boiling water and mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, then knead the mixture by hand for about 5 minutes, until a smooth dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of rice flour into a large shallow bowl, or spread out the flour onto a large cutting board. Coating your hands with some of the flour, pull off small pieces of the dough and form into balls, placing them into the flour. Roll the balls to coat with rice flour, so that they do not stick together. Flour a large baking sheet and transfer the dough balls onto it, then refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

To finish the porridge, bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the rice cake balls along with 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook until the rice cake balls float to the top, about 5 to 6 minutes. Skim any foam form the surface with a spoon. Cook a few minutes more to make the sure the rice cake balls are fully cooked, stirring occasionally to prevent the porridge from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Serve the porridge in soup bowls with more sugar on the side, if desired.

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