Adzuki Beans Properties and Cooking Suggestions

Discovering these small beans typical of the Japanese gastronomic tradition

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By Jane

adzuki beans

Adzuki beans (or Azuki/Aduki) are legumes of Asian origin, belonging, in particularly to countries like Japan, where the consumption of these beans is as important as that of soybeans. In Western countries adzuki beans are not very well known, but are very well known by those who follow alternative diets, such as vegetarian and vegan diets. In fact, these legumes are predominantly found in stores dedicated to food biology and macrobiotics.

What are Adzuki beans?

Adzuki beans are a variety of legumes widely enjoyed in many Asian cuisines. These small round beans are characterized by a color ranging from dark red to brown, although green and black varieties exist. Originating from East Asia, particularly Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan, these beans boast a long history of use in Asian gastronomy, primarily Japanese cuisine, and a wide range of culinary applications.

Adzuki beans are known for their versatility. They can be eaten in both sweet and savory preparations, and it is this adaptability that makes them so popular. In the sweet context, these beans are often made into a sweet paste called “anko” or “an,” which becomes a key ingredient in numerous traditional desserts, such as Japanese dorayaki, mochi, taiyaki, and Korean patbingsu. These desserts are appreciated for their delicacy and their slightly sweet flavour, reminiscent of chestnuts and sweet potatoes and which pairs well with a wide range of other ingredients.

In addition to their culinary versatility, adzuki beans are known for their health benefits. They are a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins (especially folate) and minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium. Plus, they contain antioxidants, which can help fight oxidative stress and improve overall health.

Being gluten-free makes them suitable for a wide range of diets, including gluten-free. Additionally, some Asian cultures give Adzuki beans a symbolic meaning of prosperity and good luck, making them a particularly special and treasured ingredient in many cultural celebrations and traditions.

Did you know that? Adzuki in Japanese means nothing other than “little bean”

Adzuki beans properties

Adzuki beans are a nutritious food that offers several health benefits. Here are some of their properties and associated benefits:

  • Quality nutrients. They are a nutritious source, providing high-quality protein, fiber, essential vitamins and minerals. They are particularly rich in potassium, magnesium, iron and folate.
  • Rich in proteins. They represent a good source of vegetable proteins. Protein is important for tissue growth and restoration, as well as maintaining muscle mass.
  • Rich in fibre. They contain dietary fibers which aid digestion and help maintain regular intestinal transit: precisely because of their fiber content they are recommended for those with sluggish intestines. A further beneficial effect is to promote diuresis. Fiber can also help reduce LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) in the blood.
  • Regulation of blood sugar levels. The fiber in these beans can help regulate blood sugar levels, making them a good choice for people with diabetes or anyone trying to keep their energy stable throughout the day.
  • Source of antioxidants. Red kidney beans contain antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which can help fight oxidative stress in the body and reduce the risk of age-related diseases.
  • Good for heart health. Thanks to their nutritional properties, these beans can help maintain a healthy heart. Fiber reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, while potassium can help regulate blood pressure.
  • Rich in iron. The iron present in these beans is an essential component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen into tissues. Consuming this food can help prevent iron deficiency anemia.
  • Suitable for gluten-free diets. As anticipated, they are naturally gluten-free, which makes them suitable for people with celiac disease.
adzuki beans
Adzuki beans are becoming increasingly popular worldwide.

Nutritional values

For 100 grams of adzuki beans we have:

  • 330 calories
  • Fat 0.5 g
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids 0.1 g
  • Saturated fatty acids 0.2 g
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Potassium 1,255 mg
  • Calcium 65 mg
  • Iron 5 mg
  • Magnesium 127 mg
  • Carbohydrates 62 g
  • Vitamin A 17 IU
  • Vitamin C 0 mg
  • Vitamin D 0 IU
  • Vitamin B6 0.4 mg
  • Vitamin B12 0 µg
  • Dietary fiber 13 g
  • Protein 20 g

These beans are a versatile and nutritious ingredient that can be used in a variety of both sweet and savory dishes, offering numerous health benefits.

How to prepare adzuki beans?

Before seeing some recipes, a note on how to prepare these beans. An important premise must be made here. Before cooking adzuki beans, you need to leave them to soak in cold water, as with all legumes, for at least 4 hours/6 hours. According to Japanese tradition, seaweed should be left in the soaking water, but we can easily do without it.

Subsequently it is possible to prepare them by boiling them (for a time ranging from 30 to 40 minutes) in the same water in which they were soaked, without salting.

Bonus tip: Don’t throw away the water you boiled the adzuki beans in. This is truly excellent water for the plants on your balcony!

Recipes with adzuki beans

Azuki beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different recipes, both sweet and savory. Here are some recipes that use these beans:

Sweet azuki bean soup

This soup is a popular dish in many Asian cuisines, made from azuki beans cooked with sugar and served hot or cold. To prepare it, cook the azuki beans with water and sugar until you obtain a creamy consistency. Serve the soup hot or cold, as you prefer.

In colder seasons we suggest a variant of soup with potatoes.

Adzuki bean salad

This is a healthy salad with adzuki beans, fresh vegetables, herbs and a light vinaigrette.

How to prepare it? Toss cooked azuki beans with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, parsley and season with olive oil and rice vinegar.

Adzuki bean hummus

A twist on traditional chickpea hummus: this version includes adzuki beans for a creamy texture and unique flavor.

To prepare it, you simply need to blend adzuki beans with tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon and spices.

Japanese dorayaki

Dorayaki are Japanese desserts consisting of two light pancakes filled with sweet azuki bean paste. To prepare Japanese dorayaki, mix eggs, sugar, honey and vanilla. Add flour and yeast and mix until you obtain a smooth dough. Cook the pancakes in a non-stick pan.

At this point, spread the sweet azuki bean paste on a pancake, then place another on top to form a sort of sandwich.

Adzuki beans properties
Adzuki beans have very interesting nutritional properties.

Mochi with adzuki bean filling

Mochi is a Japanese glutinous dessert with a paste filling of these beans. We will soon publish a recipe for making mochi with detailed instructions.

Japanese Anmitsu

This is another Japanese dessert consisting of gelatin cubes, fruit, azuki bean paste, and a sweet molasses-based sauce.

Korean Patbingsu

Patbingsu is a Korean dessert made with crushed ice, azuki paste, fruit and other ingredients.

To prepare it you need to crush the ice, add the azuki bean paste, fresh fruit (such as strawberries and mango) and other condiments to taste.

But remember that these beans can easily be consumed on their own, as a side dish, using a drizzle of olive oil or soy sauce as a condiment.

Finally, even if many who read us are vegetarians, it should be remembered that these beans are a splendid accompaniment to meat.

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