All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Tsubuan / sweetened crumbly azuki bean paste

A typical sweetened azuki bean paste for a number of Japanese sweets.  Pre-made bean paste from store shelves is handy but has a clear sugar taste rather than bean's natural sweetness. Making your own bean paste takes some time, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Use a thick-walled pot for best results.


(Makes 650-700 g tsubuan)

250 g (approx. 300 cc) azuki beans
150 g (approx. 130 cc) sugar
20 g (1 tbsp) honey
1/4 tsp salt (optional; skip or use only a pinch if on low-sodium diet)


In a pot, put azuki and 3-4 times as much water as beans, and bring to boil.
Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, cook for a few minutes, and drain. 


Put the same amount of water again, and repeat cooking and draining two more times. (At least one more time; the astringent taste of beans disappears in this process).


Put 750-800 cc water, bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until beans are soft and crumble easily.

Add water as necessary to keep beans immersed while simmering.


Add half of sugar, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the remaining half of sugar and honey, and simmer until water is reduced to half, approximately 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, add salt, mix, and cool.

  • Honey gives a complex sweetness and glossy look while cutting down on calories. In terms of sweetness, 1 tbsp honey is about the same as 3 tbsp sugar.
  • This recipe is just about as sweet as I can handle. If you want something sweeter, you can use up to the same amount of sugar as beans (250 g in this recipe). If using sugar in combination with honey, consider the note above.
  • Finished bean paste freezes well.

Recipes with tsubuan
Try tsubuan in the following recipes
  • Yuzu daifuku / soft rice cake with sweetened bean paste and candied yuzu citrus peel

(Last updated: February 7, 2017)


Anonymous said...

Don't you pre-soak the beans before cooking? I find that rather suprising, I soak them over night. I like the idea of adding a bit of honey, I might give that a try next time - I recently made a batch of 1.5kg, that should last a while.

neco said...

Pre-soaking does shorten overall cooking time. But I usually don't when I know beans are not old. When I try azuki from a different shop and am not certain if the shop sells lots of azuki (beans may be a bit older), I pre-soak them.
1.5 kg! That sound a lot to eat ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! It's not possible to get really fresh/just harvested azuki here so I guess with pre-soaking I'm on the safe side.

It does take some time so it's worthwhile to make a large(r) batch as it freezes well. I wrap it in individual 100g parcels, it makes de-frosting easier. I like wagashi with tea and the stuff is used in zenzai, in dorayaki and various more traditional sweets. So I guess I do have some kind of a sweet tooth...