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How to Make Red Bean Paste
(Hong Dou Sha | 红豆沙) in the Instant Pot

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Would you like to make red bean paste at home? It is a popular ingredient in many Chinese and East Asian desserts, and now it's even easier to make at home using an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker!

How to Make Red Bean Paste (Hong Dou Sha | 红豆沙) in the Instant Pot

Red bean paste is typically sweetened before being using in dessert recipes. It's made using large Chinese red beans, which are bigger than the adzuki beans commonly found in supermarkets. You can generally find them at Chinese/Asian grocers or speciality shops online, but if you can't, it's fine to use the smaller adzuki beans.

Whilst it's not strictly necessary to pre-soak adzuki beans before cooking them, I prefer to do it, as it shortens the cooking time. Soaking before cooking can also leach out sugars that may cause digestive issues, although adzuki beans are said to be quite mild on the digestive system.

If you've ever been to a Chinese or Asian bakery, you'll know that red bean paste is a major feature in those beautiful pastries on display. The image brings back comforting memories of my child self enjoying all those delicious desserts!

It can be difficult to find ready made red bean paste, especially if you don't have many Asian grocers near you. So it's a relief to know you can make it very easily at home.

How to Make Red Bean Paste (Hong Dou Sha | 红豆沙) in the Instant Pot

As with almost all foods, how you make red bean paste will depend a lot on your personal taste preferences. The pastries and desserts you typically find in bakeries and restaurants are generally very sweet. I prefer only a hint of sweetness to my desserts, so I haven't used much sugar in this recipe. But if you like your desserts sweeter, feel free to add more!

Some desserts will use a more textured red bean paste, with bits of whole bean remaining, and some will use a very smooth and refined paste. Again, for home baking purposes, it comes down to personal preference. I prefer a more textured red bean paste, but if you would like yours to be smooth, simply process it in a blender or food processor, adding more water if necessary, until it reaches your desired consistency.

You could refine the red bean paste even further by pressing it through a fine sieve to remove the bean skins - but then you would also be removing an important source of nutrients! So I would tend to keep the skins and accept that it won't be completely uniform in consistency - at least it will still taste great!

If you like your paste to have a creamier texture, you can stir in some melted flavourless coconut oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil), or even butter, if you prefer.

How to Make Red Bean Paste (Hong Dou Sha | 红豆沙) in the Instant Pot

Use your red bean paste straight away, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. It can also be frozen in individual portions for a couple of months. Before using, bring it back to room temperature, and mix in a little water to loosen the paste, if required.

If you don't have an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, no worries! You can also make red bean paste the conventional way, on the stovetop.

Use red bean paste in Baked Sticky Rice Cake (Hong Dou Kao Nian Gao | 红豆 烤年糕) or any of your other favourite dessert recipes.


Here's what you'll need to make red bean paste in the Instant Pot:
(Click here to jump straight to the recipe)

200g large red adzuki beans
400ml water
35g light muscovado (brown) sugar

And here's what you'll need to do:

  • Put the beans in a bowl with plenty of fresh filtered water, and soak overnight.
  • Discard the soaking water, rinse the beans, and drain well.
  • Put the beans in the inner bowl of the Instant Pot, and add 400ml of water.
  • Close and lock the lid, turn the vent to Sealing, and cook for 14 minutes on High Pressure with natural release.
  • When the pin drops, open the lid carefully, and using a potato masher or firm spatula, roughly mash the beans. Add a bit more hot water if your paste is too thick.
  • Then add the sugar, and mix together with a spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Enjoy in your favourite dessert!
How to Make Red Bean Paste (Hong Dou Sha | 红豆沙) in the Instant Pot

How to make Red Bean Paste
(Hong Dou Sha | 红豆沙) in the Instant Pot

By

How to make Red Bean Paste (Hong Dou Sha | 红豆沙) in the Instant Pot

Now you can make red bean paste for all your favourite desserts in less time using the Instant Pot.

Prep Time: 2 minutes plus overnight soaking
Cook time: 14 minutes
Yield: 550g
Course: Dessert, Filling
Cuisine: Chinese, East Asian
Tags: Adzuki, Chinese Dessert

Ingredients

200g large red adzuki beans
400ml water
35g light muscovado (brown) sugar

Method

  1. Put the beans in a bowl with plenty of fresh filtered water, and soak overnight.
  2. Discard the soaking water, rinse the beans, and drain well.
  3. Put the beans in the inner bowl of the Instant Pot, and add 400ml of water.
  4. Close and lock the lid, turn the vent to Sealing, and cook for 14 minutes on High Pressure with natural release.
  5. When the pin drops, open the lid carefully, and using a potato masher or firm spatula, roughly mash the beans. Add a bit more hot water if your paste is too thick.
  6. Then add the sugar, and mix together with a spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  7. Enjoy in your favourite dessert!

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