Hóng Dòu Shā (紅豆沙) – Chinese-Style Red Bean Paste

Hóng Dòu Shā (紅豆沙) - Chinese-Style Red Bean Paste
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Red Bean Paste, also known as hóngdòushā (紅豆沙) in Mandarin, danpatso (단팥소 – “sweet bean filling”) in Korean, and azukian [小豆餡 – “small bean (adzuki) paste”] in Japanese, is a mash of beans that is often used in sweet soups and pastries. It comes in a variety of textures, from chunky, to smooth, and some pastes made somewhere in the middle. My favorite summer desserts made with red bean are cold desserts, like patbingsu and anmitsu, because they’re often mixed with fruit. In the winter, I always go for a steamed bun!

Earlier this year, I shared with you our steamed bun dough recipe, and I only thought it natural for me to make a delicious red bean paste to go with it! We’re excited to try adding this paste into other pastries like mooncakes and mochi, and hope to share those with you too. For now, have fun making some paste for those steamed buns, and keep yourself warm in this cold New York weather!

Recipe for Hóngdòushā (紅豆沙) - Chinese-Style Red Bean Paste

  • 465g
  • Preparation:
  • Cooking:
  • Waiting:


  • 150g (about ¾-cup) dried Red Adzuki Beans
  • 550g Water
  • 105g (about ½-cup) Brown Slab Sugar
  • Dash (⅛t) Kosher Salt
  • 50g (about ¼-cup) Lard or Vegetable Shortening
  • 40g (about 2T) Maltose


  • In a large bowl, wash and drain the beans, and refill the bowl with fresh water. Set aside for 6-8 hours or overnight.
  • Once the red beans have re-hydrated, place the beans into a large pot, pour in 500g water, and bring the pot to a boil. Skim any scum and foam that accumulates at the top. Lower the flame, and cover. Keep it on a steady simmer until the beans are easily mushed without much resistance, and with much of the water boiled out, about an hour to an hour and twenty minutes.
  • Use an immersion blender and blend the beans until smooth.
  • In a large pan on a low flame, melt the slab sugar with 50g of water. Once dissolved, pour the melted sugar into the paste. Add a touch of salt. Blend for a few seconds to combine. Scoop out all of the paste into the pan and cook the paste with the lard on a low flame, stirring continuously, about 25 minutes. The result should look like thick Greek yogurt.
  • Finally, mix in the maltose, stir the paste, and cook until the paste pulls clean from the pan. It should look like thick peanut butter. Cool completely before using in baked goods and confections.

*Bunny Wisdom*

  • If it's a hot day, place the soaking beans in the refrigerator.
  • The soaking water has a lot of flavor and color, because much of it gets leached out; you have the option to use whatever remaining water there is for the amount of water for boiling. Let's say that after soaking, you have about 50g of water left over. Add an additional 450g of fresh water to the pot, bringing that number to 500g.
  • Be mindful of the water level inside the pot. At the 50-minute mark, the water should be close to complete absorption, with some pooling. If the water is dissipating too quickly, the beans will burn. By the hour-and-twenty-minute mark, the pot should look as if you're making refried beans.
  • Use a food processor if you don't own an immersion blender.
  • Greek yogurt comes in a variety of textures, I know; however, I'm looking for a texture that is a bit more slack than peanut butter. If you're mixing it in the pan and it's still sticking to the bottom and sides, it's not dry enough. I try to make it so that the paste can be shaped, but not so dry that it begins to crumble. The final product should glisten due to the fats and sugars, and begin to pull away from the pan, coming together like a ball.
  • If you want to make this vegetarian, use vegetable shortening instead of lard.
  • You can source the slab sugar and maltose at your local Asian grocery store. The slab sugar comes in bars, in dark and light varieties. I use the light-colored ones for this recipe.
  • A quick refrigeration also helps solidify the paste. Chill for 1-2 hours to make it easier to handle.

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