Happy 2020 everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful start to the new year. This year was one of the first that my mother and I didn’t attend a party with おせち料理 (osechi-ryori), or traditional Japanese New Year foods. In the past, we would get together with our local Japanese friends and participate in a day of cooking a traditional New Year meal. This meal would be comprised of foods such as:
-栗きんとん (candied chestnut & sweet potatoes)
-酢れんこん (pickled lotus root)
and so much more!
Osechi is kind of like Japanese Thanksgiving in that there are a lot of foods only eaten at this New Year meal. It’s also like Thanksgiving in that a lot of these traditional recipes aren’t exactly crowd favorites. As a kid, there were only a few foods at Osechi that I thoroughly enjoyed, mainly desserts made with anko, or sweet red bean paste. For instance, shiruko is a soup made with adzuki beans and mochi, basically a watered down version of anko. Anko can also be used as a filling in dorayaki, where the red bean paste is sandwiched between two castella pancakes, or in daifuku, where it is stuffed inside a ball of mochi. No matter how it is served, I am always a fan of this delicious red bean paste.
There are 2 main types of anko used in Japanese desserts. One is koshi-an, which is blended and passed through a sieve to remove the bean skins. This smoother version is commonly used as a filling for various sweets. My favorite, however has always been tsubu-an, the chunkier version with whole beans still in the mix. It’s great as a topping on shaved ice or as filling inside an-pan (“an” from anko and “pan” meaning bread). The only issue with red bean paste is that it’s hard to find. It can only be purchased at Asian grocery stores, which you may not have near you. It also takes forever to make on the stovetop. Thankfully, with the invention of the Instant Pot, tsubu-an can now be made with the press of a button!
If you happen to own an Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker), and you’re interested in trying out this Japanese dessert staple, I definitely recommend this recipe. I will also be posting different Japanese desserts that you can make with your homemade anko throughout the month, so be sure to keep an eye out for those!
Instant Pot Tsubu-An (Japanese Red Bean Paste)
Anko, or sweet red bean paste, is used in many traditional Japanese dessert recipes. Try making it at home in a pressure cooker to save time and money!
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked adzuki beans 300 grams
- 5 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 240 grams
- Pinch kosher salt
In a large strainer, rinse the adzuki beans under running water until water is clear. Drain and set aside.
Combine the beans with 5 cups of fresh water in the Insant Pot. Cover and lock the lid.
Press the "Bean/Chili" button on the pressure cooker and decrease the default time of 30 minutes to 25 minutes. Ensure the steam release handle is set to "sealing."
When the beans are done cooking, allow to pressure to slowly release on its own for 15 minutes. Then, turn the steam release handle to "venting" to release any remaining pressure.
Use a ladle to scoop out and discard any foam on the surface of the liquid, then drain the liquid from the beans through a fine sieve.
Return the drained beans to the Instant Pot along with the granulated sugar and pinch of salt. Press the "Saute" button and set to low heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar has dissolved and mixture has thickened. You should be able to see the bottom of the pot for 2 seconds after scraping the spoon against it before the beans return to cover it.
Turn off the Instant Pot and transfer the tsubu-an to a rimmed baking sheet to cool and thicken even further. Use immediately or store in fridge or freezer (see notes).
- Store unused tsubu-an in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator, or freeze 100 gram portions wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 1 month.
Looking for more recipes to make with your Instant Pot? Try out this pumpkin walnut chili!