May 4, 2011

Sweet Red Bean Paste

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Red Beans

I love the smoky flavor of sweet red bean paste and regularly buy the canned Japanese ones but lately I find them overly sweet. I decided to make the paste from scratch mainly to reduce the sugar content. It's not a very difficult process and 2 cups of dried beans make a large batch of sweet paste, about 5 cups, that can fill a lot of pao (steamed buns), baked buns, and hopiang hapon (Japanese-style Filipino-Chinese cakes). I've made the super flaky Filipino Chinese hopia which is a tad complicated and thought making hopiang hapon would be easier because the dough I remember was not as flaky and greasy as the regular hopia, probably closer to moon cake dough.

There aren't many recipes for Filipino hopiang hapon and I adapted the dough from the only one I could find. I underbaked the hopia and they came out pale; and although they don't look like the ones from the Philippines, they taste almost identical. The dough is soft and not sweet at all and I can't stop eating them, they're that good. I'll use a moon cake dough recipe next time I make these.

Sweet Azuki Bean Mini Pao
mini sweet red bean pao

Buns Filled with Sweet Azuki Paste
baked sweet buns

Hopiang Hapon
hopiang hapon

Sweet Red Bean Paste
2 cups small red beans (azuki)
4 cups water + more to cover
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • Clean, rinse, and soak beans overnight in 4 cups water. The next day, drain beans and place in a large non-stick sauce pan; add fresh water to cover and cook over medium heat until tender. Drain, add sugar and oil, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often until soft and mixture appears dry. For coarse consistency, mash with a potato masher or blend in a blender if fine consistency is preferred. The paste should hold its shape but still moist. Let cool to room temperature, transfer into a container, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
The recipe for steamed pao dough is here.

Hopiang Hapon

Hopiang Hapon


1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
¼ cup cubed cold butter
¼ cup light olive oil
¼ cup water
1 whole egg

1½ x ½-inch sweet red bean paste disks

egg wash
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in cold butter with fingertips. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until combined. Knead lightly just until a smooth dough is formed. Divide into 2 equal pieces and form into logs. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Slice each log into 8 pieces. Flatten each piece into 1/8 inch thick circles. Place a disk on the center and gather the edges. Pinch together and place on a sheet pan, seam side down. Brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated 375°F oven until golden.

Bonus info: The Japanese use ground azuki beans as a facial exfoliating agent. A fellow shopper, a Japanese woman, told me while we were at The Body Shop that her secret to a smooth unblemished facial skin is ground azuki which the store was selling at the time. The grounds came in a tiny box with holes at the top. You wet a small amount on your palm and massage the paste in a circular motion all over your cheeks, forehead, and chin. I used the ground beans on my face for many years but the store discontinued the product. It really works great in removing dead skin making my face smooth as a baby's. I should probably grind some.;-)


caninecologne said...

hi oggi - my fave of the 3 would be the hopiang hapon! i love the flaky crust. what a great tip about the ground azuki beans too! now i'm curious to try doing that. :)

oggi said...

R, try it. Grind it really fine in a coffee grinder; a half cup will last a long time. I used to use it once or twice a week.

Anonymous said...

Hi Oggi,

is the dough of the baked sweet buns the same as the cuapao/siopao? thanks.

oggi said...

Hi, I used a sweet dough for the baked buns. Here is the recipe.

7 ounces bread flour
7½ ounces all-purpose flour
6½ ounces warm (100°F) milk
2 eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 ounces butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook attached, mix all the ingredients except egg wash on first speed for 5 minutes. Increase to second speed and mix for 8 minutes. Transfer dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave on the kitchen counter for 2 hours. Knead lightly to remove bubbles.
Divide into 2-ounce portions, shape into balls, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes. Flatten each ball and fill with 2 tablespoons of paste. Gather the edges, pinch to close, and place on a sheet pan seam side down, 2 inches apart. Gently press to flatten into less than an inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour to 1½ hours. Brush with egg wash. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of the rolls are golden.

Anonymous said...

Hi Oggi, I appreciate your quick reply. I tried your hopiang hapon and it was really good. I have leftover fillings so I want to try the sweet buns :-)

oggi said...

Oh that's good to know. I hope you'll like the baked buns too.:)

Joy said...

I have yet to make red beans right. Yours look wonderful. Is the hopia slightly different from the other type make with crisco or lard?

oggi said...

Joy, they aren't as greasy, parang mooncake.

Anonymous said...

where can we buy azuki beans in the philippines?

oggi said...


Sorry but I wouldn't know. Try palengke, ask for small red beans (or red munggo?).

Anonymous said...

hello,Oggi,I'm new here,I love your blog site.I will try your siopao. thanks a lot

oggi said...

Thank you and you're welcome. I hope the siopao turns out well.:)

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