or Red Bean Paste
When one has time on her hands, what does she do?
Make Adzuki Paste.
Also known as 'red beans', adzuki is a, well, red bean. It's pea-sized, and commonly used as the test subject for amateurish experiments by lower-primary students to 'test for plant growth in presence of water'. But that's not the point. Red beans are an essential element of the Asian diet. It's present most commonly in Japan, with adzuki ice creams, adzuki milkshakes, adzuki hamburgers... (I'm pretty sure I made the last one up.)
Of course, it's also present in China, in the form of red bean buns, glutinous rice ball fillings (a.k.a. tang yuen), and mooncakes. In Singapore, it's boiled for a slightly shorter period of time, to make 'red bean soup', or served with chendol (green jelly strips resembling worms).
I regard adzuki-paste making an art, a timeless and sacred tradition. It requires great patience and effort to consistently check the pot (though I just poured water and left to do my own things, checking every half hour or so). Despite my short-cut, the paste yielded was good, thick and most importantly, soft. I can still recall the expressions on my parents' faces when I presented them with a steamed matcha cupcake with red beans studded atop, not realising that it was actually uncooked.
Adzuki paste is used most commonly as a sweet filling, but one can consume it as a spread atop bread, or a topping for ice creams and such. It required little material ingredients, but much mind-power and resilience. Though it may appear to be troublesome, the result, is far more satisfying than simply making peanut butter by processing peanuts. (I'm sorry PB lovers, it's a fact.)
This entire process will take 2 hours or so, along with much needed attention, so ensure that you have sufficient time. The fire on the stove should merely simmer, not boil, so that means 'the occasional bubble breaking the surface'. For me, the fire lit was so small that it was a mere glow. The first boil not only heats the water up, but also removes bitterness, so it's really important. You will smile when you scoop the finished product into a pretty jar.
Feel free to adjust according to needs
2/3 c adzuki beans (or red beans)
2 1/2 - 3 tbsp. sweetener - sugar, honey, stevia etc.
1. Rinse beans and combine with water, at least 1 cup, in a pot. Ensure that beans are completely covered with water.
2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat to a simmer.
3. Every time the water is nearly gone, pour more. I did 4 times of about 2/3 cup water each time. It took about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
4. Check the beans for softness too. When the water is nearly gone, and beans soft, let the water (almost) boil away and switch off the heat.
5. Mash the beans up with the sweetener, transfer to a sealed jar/container, and leave to cool. I yielded approximately 0.15 l worth of paste.