Azuki Bean Paste Filling featuring an Heirloom Empanda Recipe

When I lived in Hawai'i, I tried a lot of new foods from different cultures I had not previously been exposed to. One such food was azuki bean paste- as a Latina, I am very familiar with beans in their savory applications and was very excited to try beans in a sweet way. I was blown away and it almost immediately became one of my favorite things. Recently I wanted to try making it and felt that using the azuki bean paste would taste amazing in an empanada. 
My grandmother has an empanada recipe that has been passed down now to at least 2 generations and is something special to me. She uses beer in the dough to give it a lift as well as a distinct flavor. For sentimental reasons, I am not yet posting that recipe in our cookbook.

Azuki bean paste ingredients
  • 1 cup dried azuki beans
  • Water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher sea salt
  • Rinse the beans and throw out any broken beans
  • Put the beans in a deep pot and cover with water about 2 inches over the beans
  • When the water boils, strain the beans and throw out the water, add the beans back to the pot.
  • Add fresh water to the pot and cover about 2 inches over the beans again
  • Bring to a boil again and boil until the beans can be squished in between your fingers
  • Drain the beans, reserving a little bit of water to add to the blender
  • Add the beans to a blender or food processor and add some of the reserved liquid. Blend until very smooth. 
  • Add the mixture to a pot and simmer over medium-low heat. Add half the sugar, once incorporated add the remaining sugar. Add the salt. 
  • Continue to simmer, constantly mixing, until you can see the bottom of the pot when you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and transfer to a baking pan to cool. 
  • Once cooled you can use immediately or store in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. 

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