March SOS Kitchen Challenge: Ingredient Reveal!

Merry March to you! A new month brings a new SOS Kitchen Challenge, the monthly recipe event hosted by Kim and me celebrating vegan, sugar-free, natural recipes using a featured ingredient.

Rather than focus on something obvious like oats, cabbage, or potatoes this month (the blogosphere loves St. Patrick’s Day!),  we’ve gone in a different direction entirely. This month’s food goes by multiple names, has multiple sweet and savory applications, and can either be eaten cooked or raw and sprouted.

Here’s a photographical hint:

 

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Did you guess correctly? This month’s SOS Kitchen Challenge features none other than the adzuki bean, also known as azuki, aduki, asuki, adsuki, field pea, red bean, Teinsin red bean, or feijao.  No matter what name you prefer, one thing is certain: the adzuki bean is marvelously versatile, nutritious, and delicious.

A Bit About The Bean

Adzuki beans are thought to originate in China, and are prized in Asian cuisine, used in sweet and savory applications, and often used for celebratory and festival dishes. These dark red beans are relatively small, with a distinctive white ridge on one side. They cook quickly and are more easily digested than many other beans.

The most common use of adzuki beans in Asian cuisines–especially Japanese–is in sweet drinks, dessert soups, and various buns and pastries stuffed with sweetened red bean paste.  Western cuisine has adopted the adzuki bean most commonly in savory applications, such as soups, stews, casseroles, and burritos. Adzuki beans are excellent in vegan dishes, as their texture is hearty and somewhat “meat-like”.  Adzuki beans are also very delicious when soaked and left to sprout – azuki bean sprouts are crunchy and absolutely delicious in salads, stir fries, and wraps.

Adzuki beans have a rich, earthy, nutty, and sweet flavor and rich red color when cooked.  They are complimented by warm spices such as ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, or chile powder, and go well with other ingredients such as tamari, miso, onion, coconut milk, rice, yam, sweet potato, squash or pumpkin.

Nutritional Benefits

Adzuki beans, like all legumes, are an excellent source of nutrition. The website Knowing Food has a great write up about the adzuki bean, featuring this information:

Adzuki beans are a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc copper, manganese and B vitamins. As a high-potassium, low-sodium food they can help reduce blood pressure and act as a natural diuretic. When combined with grains, beans supply high quality protein, which provides a healthy alternative to meat or other animal protein.

Like most beans, adzuki beans are rich in soluble fibre. This type of fibre provides bulk to the stool and binds to toxins and cholesterol aiding in their elimination from the body.

In Japan adzuki beans are known for their healing properties and are used to support kidney and bladder function. Gillian McKeith is a huge fan of the adzuki bean and refers to it as the ‘weight loss’ bean as it low in calories and fat but high in nutrients. [source] 

Additionally, the The Ayurvedic Cookbook by U. Desai and Amadea Morningstar states that adzuki beans have excellent ability to rebuild adrenal function and kidney energy.

How To Cook Dry Adzuki Beans

Cooking dry adzuki beans is easy and economical.  It is also often a necessity, as canned adzuki beans are not always readily available. Eden Foods makes organic canned adzuki beans that are cooked with kombu and packed in BPA-free cans, so if you can’t cook your own beans, those are a great option. But if you have access to dry adzuki beans and have the time to plan ahead, I’d recommend simply cooking your own.

To cook beans, you must soak them first to rehydrate. Soak 1 part beans overnight in ample water. Drain and simmer on the stovetop in 4 parts water for 40 minutes to an hour, until tender but still intact (if adding salt, add at end of cooking). If you have a pressure cooker, follow instructions in your pressure cooker instruction manual.  Then drain beans and use as desired, rinsing as necessary. Reserve bean cooking liquid to use as a broth or nourishing warm drink (it is loaded with vitamins and minerals!).

How To Enter The Challenge

If you are interested in trying your hand at cooking or baking with the adzuki bean this month, join us in this month’s challenge! To enter, simply cook up a new recipe–either sweet OR savory (or both)–using adzuki beans, following the usual SOS guidelines for ingredients and submission requirements.  It can be your own recipe or one you found on a website or blog (even one of ours!). Then submit it by linking up to your blog post with the linky tool, below.  Be sure to add a link to this page on your post, and if you wish, include the SOS logo.

Your recipe will be displayed on both Kim’s and my blog in the Linky, and will be featured in a recipe roundup at the end of this month.  We look forward to more of your delicious, creative, enthusiastic entries this month!

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Comments

  1. I’ve never cooked with adzuki beans before. What a fun challenge! (I’ve always wanted to do a sweet bean paste something or another, too.)

    • Yay! I was surprised at how easy they are to cook. And if you’ve ever cooked any dried beans, well, these are not that different! :)

  2. I LOVE adzuki beans! I make a really good soup with them, that I haven’t made in years. Hmmm….gears in brain turning….

  3. Shame on me, I never used adzuki beans. I should definitely join your challenge.

    • I think I’d used them maybe once before this. . . so I’m new to them, too. :) Hope you can find a recipe you like to try out!

  4. adzuki beans ROCK! can’t wait to try out everyone’s recipes this month!

  5. hmm, haven’t tried these either… maybe i’ll find time to enter this time? eek.

    • That would be great, but happy to have you come and browse the recipes if you can’t (I know very well about not having enough time for things I want to do!)

  6. I love a bean challenge!

    My dog Zuki (who passed away last August) was named after an adzuki bean, and they are one of my favorites. We were eating them the night we found him. And we found him in March. I will create an adzuki bean recipe in his honor.

  7. Yes! I’ve been meaning to use the rest of my adzuki beans!

  8. did you know these were also the theme for no croutons required? must be something in the air! I have red beans in my cupboard that I think might be adzuki beans but they just are called red beans – much smaller than kidney beans – am off to the market now so will look to see if they have adzuki beans – I think I bought the red beans as I had trouble finding any called adzuki – so hope these will fit the bill

    • I had no idea about NCR! Well, I can use my own SOS submission for that event, too, then! :) I think “red beans” are adzukis, aren’t they?

  9. I’m so embarrassed that February slipped by without my contributing to the Stevia challenge! I’d bought it for the firs time and everything :S

    I’ve never cooked adzuki beans but I adore red bean-based Japanese desserts, so I’ll do my best to come up with something this month :)

    • Well, at least now you have the stevia so you can make the recipes from last month’s challenge. :) And I copped out and just made a red-bean dessert. ;)

  10. Yay! So happy to see the reveal! And so happy that Azuki’s are on my list of “can eats” and not “can’t eats.” I’ve never had them though and happy for the chance to try them this month! :)I haven’t ever seen them dried though and have a hard time finding them in a can even. :( I didn’t know that they are called red beans too. Isn’t that just a type of beans? Because I’m allowed Azuki beans but not Red beans… I’m on a blood type diet… in case you are wondering ;)

  11. I’m looking forward to all of the Adzuki bean recipes coming from this contest!

    BTW, if you have a pressure cooker, you can also “quick-soak” the beans from dry to soaked in about 10 minutes – this soaking methods removes the indigestible sugars like the long-soak but does have small superficial consequences (some beans might have their skins craked).

    Looking forward to the recipes!!!

    Ciao,

    L

  12. Will surely take part this time as I come from a land which is one of top producers of these beans :)

  13. I’ve been eating adzuki’s since ’82 when I found out about macrobiotics. I just cooked a crock pot all night with them and root veggies, great dinner tonight!

    I eat a variety of legumes, adzuki’s get forgotten until my acupuncturist reminds me to eat them.

    I’ll be sure to send in a recipe. I have to buy them at a small health food store here, the box store’s nutrition sections don’t even carry them. Thanks Ricki for the info on them, I forgot why they’re so good to eat.

  14. I think I have some in my pantry right now. Gonna go check and see if I get inspired! Love me my beans :)

  15. I’m all over this one, adzuki’s are one of my fave beans. I love eating them in plain ol’ Japanese “red rice & beans” style, just rice, beans, some gomasio. but I think I may get a little fancier for the challenge ;) I actually didn’t know about the adrenal/kidney connection, that makes me love these lil’ beans even more!

  16. I have a love/hate relationship with adzukis! Obviously, I must get onto the LOVE side of them and participate in this!

  17. Hi Ricki – I managed to come up with something for this month’s challenge! Yay! Thanks to you and Kim for hosting.

Trackbacks

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