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By Request

By Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, January 3, 2001

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Types of azuki, from left, are koshi an (mashed),
tsubushi an (strained) and dry beans.

Azuki proves
a versatile bean

ALL the way in Houston, Grace Tobita has made new friends who share her fondness for azuki.

She had served them Sekihan, the traditional Japanese special-occasion dish of rice with red beans, and they loved it. Her friends are from Taiwan, Tobita says. "They seem to have grown up with azuki and love anything with it, although they just call it 'red beans.' "

She wants to make them a couple of her favorites, azuki mochi and kanten, or possibly gelatin as she's worried about being able to find kanten in Texas. (Actually, kanten is available throughout the country under the name agar-agar. It's a processed form of seaweed often used by vegetarians in place of gelatin because it contains no animal products. Desserts prepared with kanten will not soften at room temperature the way gelatin does.)

Local cookbooks are full of recipes for azuki -- or an, as it is called once it's been turned into a paste. If you have only encountered these sweet beans in the bottom of your shave-ice cup or as the filling in your mochi, the variety could surprise you.

Azuki, or Japanese red beans, are sold in dry form or canned as tsubushi an (cooked, strained beans) or koshi an (mashed beans). All forms are common in the Asian sections of supermarkets.

An Mochi

"Hawaii's Best Mochi Recipes," by Jean Watanabe Hee (Mutual Publishing, 2000)

2-1/2 cups mochiko
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 12-ounce can coconut milk
2 cups water
3/4 cup koshi an
Katakuriko or kinako

Combine mochiko, sugar and baking powder. Add coconut milk, water and an and mix until well-blended. Pour into greased 9-by-13-inch pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Cool before cutting. Roll each piece in katakuriko.

Azuki Kanten

"Favorite Island Cookery, Book 1," Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin (1973)

2 sticks white kanten
4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 18-ounce can tsubushi an
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Rinse kanten and squeeze to drain. Tear into small pieces. Add water and soak 30 minutes. Add sugar and bring to a boil; cook until kanten dissolves. Stir in tsubushi an, salt and vanilla; mix well. Pour into a 6-by-10-inch pan. Refrigerate until set, then cut into pieces.

Coffee-Azuki Gelatin

"Favorite Island Cookery, Book IV," Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin (1985)

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup coffee, cooled
2 cups hot, strong coffee
1 14-ounce can condensed milk
1 12-ounce can tsubushi an or koshi an

Dissolve gelatin in cool coffee. Add hot coffee and stir well. Add milk, an and stir well. Pour into a 9-by-9-inch pan and chill.

Azuki Pudding Pie

"Favorite Island Cookery, Book IV," Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin (1985)

Bullet Crust:

1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup margarine, softened

Bullet Filling:

1 18-ounce can tsubushi an
2 cups cold milk
1-1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
2 3-3/4 ounce packages instant vanilla pudding

To make crust: Combine ingredients with fork and press into a greased 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool.

To make filling: Heat an thoroughly; cool. Pour into pie shell and spread evenly.

Blend milk and ice cream together. Add pudding mix. Beat on low speed of a mixer about 1 minute, until well-blended. Pour over an until pie shell is full. Let sit 5 minutes to firm up. Mound remaining mixture on top of pie. chill 4-5 hours. Top with whipped cream to serve.


"Ethnic Foods of Hawaii," by Ann Kondo Corum (Bess Press, 2000)

1/2 cup dry azuki beans
2 cups mochi rice
1 cup white rice
Black sesame seeds and salt, for garnish

Soak beans in water for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Drain; place in saucepan with enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Do not allow beans to burst. Drain; reserving water.

Places beans and both kinds of rice in rice cooker. Add 2-1/2 cups of the reserved bean liquid (add water if necessary to make 2-1/2 cups). Turn on rice cooker. Let stand 15 minutes once rice is cooked. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt. Serves 4.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Food Stuffs: Morsels

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to

Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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