Childhood Flavors 1: Red Bean Sweet Soup

2013042195232932Called oshiruko in Japan, patjuk in Korea, and other names besides, the sandy, nourishing taste of a well-made red bean soup is something I’ve never forgotten from my childhood, whether in Hong Kong or America. In my culture, its usually seen as a freebie desert at big restaurants, or specially made at dessert shops with little rice dumplings. Recently, I made one at home, and while I’m still working out the exact recipe amounts, here’s a Cantonese-style breakdown:

1 pack red beans

Large amount water

Dried orange peel, soaked and pith scraped

Brown Cane Sugar, available in bars at most Chinese supers

Coconut Milk

small pinch salt

All you do is simmer the beans with everything but the sugar and coconut in a large pot until they start to break down into mush. Stir regularly.  Keep adding water as it evaporates, and be careful of too high a flame because the bottom will burn. From dry beans, getting to an edible stage will take roughly 2 hours, but soaking them overnight cuts this down dramatically. Of course, edible isn’t all we’re going for, so feel free to load the pot on a back burner and letting it go until the stuff turns to a grainy mash. At the consistency desired, add sugar to taste, and garnish with a splash of coconut to get the lovely contrast of color.

 

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