In Asia, red bean is commonly used in confectionery. It is often made into red bean paste that could be used for sweet rice balls, doriyaki, drinks, ice cream, etc. In Japanese, the red bean soup is called zenzai. To make red bean soup, you have to soak and simmer the beans for a long time (8+ hours) to break them up. Often times, red bean paste is used to make it thick and “creamy”. Today I am only using the raw red beans to make the soup from scratch in less than 2 hours.
When shopping for red beans, I noticed that the beans produced in Japan are smaller than the ones from China. I used both and didn’t notice much difference and the Japanese one is much more expensive.
Shiratamako vs Mochiko (Short-Grain Glutinous Rice Flour)
Both types of flour are made from short-grain glutinous rice. Mochiko is available in most Asian grocery stores. Other glutinous rice flours you often see is made from long-grain glutinous rice. If you can’t find mochiko in your local markets, you can buy it on Amazon. It’s hard to find shiratamako in Asian grocery stores and online. Some of the Japanese stores don’t carry it in the States. We often shop for Japanese groceries on Tokyo Central (an online store of Marukai Market) and stock up on shiratamako to make Japanese sweets. For those who live in California, you can easily buy it in Marukai. Sometimes Mitsuwa carries it too.
For those who want to know the differences of Shiratamako, Mochiko and other glutinous rice flour, check out this post for more details.
Using Instant Pot (Electric Pressure Cooker)
Cooking the beans in a pressure cooker is FAST and effortless. You DON’T need to soak the beans before cooking. After 30 minutes of high-pressure cooking, the beans are so tender. Yet it’s not the right consistency. The soup is thin because the beans are still not broken down. Therefore, it needs a simmer to allow the beans to break up and thicken the soup.
For Instant Pot, using the “Sauté” function over “normal” or “less” (if you like it more watery). After 30 minutes of cooking, the soup comes out perfect! It’s “creamy” and ready to serve. If you have a stove top pressure cooker, just simmer it over medium-low heat without a lid.
Note: for those who are new to Instant Pot, if you use the “Sauté” function, Instant Pot will automatically turn off after 30 minutes for safety.
- 250 g red beans 1 1/4 cups
- 8 cups water 1900ml
- 1/4 cup rock sugar or granulated sugar
- 50 g shiratamako (about 1/2 cup) or mochiko (60g)
- 50 ml milk or soy milk / water
- 2 tsp sugar
Wash and rinse the red beans.
In a pressure cooker, add red beans and water.
For Instant Pot, select "manual" function (high pressure) and set the timer for 30 minutes. Natural release (about 20-30 minutes)
For stovetop pressure cookers, when it reaches pressure over high heat, lower the burner to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Add rock sugar or regular sugar and mix well.
Open the lid and select "Sauté" function. By default, it sets the cooking time for 30 minutes and then automatically turns off.
If you like a thicker and creamier texture, just leave it on "Normal" by default.
If you like the soup more watery, press the "Adjust" button to switch to "Less" for a gentle simmer.
For stovetop pressure cookers, cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes without the lid.
In a bowl, mix the sugar with glutinous rice flour.
Add milk or water. Use a spatula to mix quickly and gently knead it into a dough with your hands. The dough's texture should be soft like touching your earlobe. If it's too dry, add more liquid.
Take a small piece of the dough. Round and shape it into a ball. Use your index finger to make an indentation in the center.
Boil for 1 minute after the dangos float up to the surface.
Place them into ice-cold water, then put them in the red bean soup and serve.
If you make extra dangos, lay them on a baking sheet first so that they don't stick to each other. Freeze till they are hardened, then transfer to a ziptop bag. When you want to use it, boil it in a pot until it's softened again.
If you can't find both shiratamako, using mochiko and other sticky rice flour is fine. But the texture is chewy and gooey, rather than bouncy.