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

  • 780g
  • Preparation:
  • Cooking:
  • Waiting:


  • 250g (about 1¼ cup) Red Adzuki Beans
  • Water for boiling
  • 175g (about ¾-cup) Brown Slab Sugar
  • 85g (about 6½T) Lard
  • 60g (3T) 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, pour the beans and water into a large pot, and bring the pot to a boil. Lower the flame, and cover. Keep it on a steady simmer until the beans are easily mushed without much resistance, about an hour.
  • Use an immersion blender and blend the beans until smooth.
  • Squeeze the ground beans using layers of cheesecloth. Gather the water into a wide-bottomed pan. When the liquid has passed through, set the ground beans aside.
  • Bring the bean water to a boil, and reduce the liquid to about 150ml. Place all of the ground beans into the pan and add the slab sugar. Cook the bean paste on a low flame, stirring continuously. Once the sugar has melted and combined with the paste, stir in the lard.
  • Finally, mix in the maltose, stir the paste, and cook until desired consistency. Cool completely before using in baked goods and confections.

*Bunny Wisdom*

  • If it's a hot day, place the soaking beans in the refrigerator.
  • Maintain a good water level inside the pot; begin cooking with the water about a half-inch above the beans.
  • After blending the beans, you are welcome to strain the mixture through a sieve to take out any large pieces. This insures a smooth product.
  • Now, I'm pretty sure all of guys are wondering why I extract the water, only to put it back into the bean paste. Firstly, the water has a lot of flavor and color, and much of it gets leached out in the cooking process; I only want to put back what was taken. Secondly, I could empty the blended beans into a pan, water and all, and cook the mixture down; however, I run the risk of burning the sugar and beans, making the paste bitter. By separating the two, evaporating some of the water, and then adding it back into the beans, I reduce the chances of making a mistake and keeping much of the flavor intact.
  • *Desired consistency* really depends on how you will be utilizing the paste. I try to make it dry enough 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. Cooking this slowly can take at least 30 minutes.
  • 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.

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