Desserts made with beans. Are they tasty and what kind of beans are used for their prep?
Those wеre my questions before I first tried a popular dessert In Japan wagashi made with Anko (adzuki bean paste). They tasted great. I have never tried anything like that before. Soft, creamy, and sweet, they wore melting in my mouth.
I was curious and I got the recipe from the chef, so I could make them by myself. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to the main ingredient of the wagashi dessert-adzuki beans. But in case that you can’t find it in your country I will offer you some other substitutes you could use.
Adzuki beans are also known by other names like azuki, adzuki, red bean, or sweet bean. They are small and red in color but you can also find white, black, and grey beans among other colors.
Adzuki beans in Japanese cuisine are common in both sweets and desserts. However, they can be also added to savory dishes too.
Their sweet and soft nutty taste is used to give flavor to soups, salads, stews, curries, rice, and many other dishes. However, what if you don’t have Adzuki beans on hand or can’t find them in your local store?
Don’t worry. The next section has 10 Adzuki bean substitutes including black turtle beans, red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and more, so let’s check them out.
Adzuki Bean Substitutes
As I said in the beginning, these beans are used for making the adzuki bean paste or Anko. It’s made of grounded and then boiled beans which can be sweetened or not.
This paste is used in many dishes as an ingredient, filling, or for spreading. Adzuki beans are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, fiber, and antioxidants. Therefore, it has many health benefits.
Adzuki beans are a unique ingredient especially for making sweets and desserts. So, it’s best to use its substitutes only for savory dishes. But if you think that you can reach the same or at least similar taste you can use some of the alternatives mentioned below.
1. Black turtle beans
Black turtle beans are small black beans with a soft texture and mildly sweet taste. When cooked they are absorbing the flavors of the ingredients they are cooked with.
They are ideal for burritos, enchiladas, stews, dishes with rice, and traditional soups. Black turtle beans are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
2. Red beans
Red beans have a similar flavor and texture to adzuki beans. Meaning, they can be a good substitute for them. However, since they have a stronger taste than adzuki beans it’s better to use them in savory dishes.
Red beans and rice is the most known dish made with these beans. They are also used in other dishes like soups, salads, pasta, curries, and chilies.
3. Kidney beans
Kidney beans are bigger than adzuki beans. They have a shape like kidneys and harder skin. Meaning, you will need to soak them before you cook them.
Kidney beans have a high amount of proteins called lectins which can be toxic, and to neutralize them the beans must be boiled for about 20 minutes. They are used in different chilies, stews, meat, and rice dishes.
4. Pinto beans
Pinto beans are one of the most used beans in the USA and northern Mexico. They work well in soups, dips, stews, burritos, rice, and many other dishes. Pinto beans have a nutty flavor and smooth texture. If you opt for pinto beans, soak them to reduce the time of cooking.
5. Mung beans
Mung beans are small green beans that grow mainly in Asia and India. They have a sweet taste and complement sweet and savory dishes just as nicely as adzuki beans.
You can use them in preparing beans paste, soups, dishes with rice, stews, pastries, and various desserts. Mung bean sprouts are perfect for soups, stir-fries, noodles, dishes with rice, and salads.
They contain many vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like iron, and magnesium. You need to soak mung beans unless they are split or peeled.
6. Black sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are small oily seeds in colors like white, brown, black, gray, gold, and red. Black and white sesame seeds are the most commonly used in cooking. Black ones have a stronger bitter and nutty flavor than white ones.
They are used in Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean cuisine. Sesame paste is made from toasted seeds, and tahini paste is made from untoasted seeds.
You can sprinkle black sesame seeds on salads, soups, and stir-fries or use them as paste in sauces and various sweet and savory baked goods. Sesame oil is another product made from sesame seeds.
Chestnuts are ideal for many recipes together with adzuki beans. They have a sweet and nutty flavor. You can either roast, cook, deep-fry, grill or ground them as flour.
They are used in many sweet and savory dishes like pies, cakes, pasta, soups, sauces, stews, or as stuffing for poultry and vegetables. Chestnuts are a pretty good substitute for adzuki beans.
8. Cannellini beans
Also called white kidney beans because of their kidney shape, cannellini beans are the largest among the white beans.
These beans have a slightly nutty flavor and creamy texture. Cannellini beans are ideal for salads, soups, stews, pasta, and other dishes. They’re the perfect substitute for adzuki beans as long as you don’t mind the color difference.
9. Fava beans
Also called broad beans, fava beans are bright green beans that grow in green shells. Meaning, you need to peel them before use. To remove the skin they must be blanched. Then, use them as you wish.
They have a slightly bitter, nutty, and buttery flavor. You can either fry, steam, saute, boil, roast, mash, or eat them raw. Also, make sure to soak them before you cook them.
10. Cranberry beans
Cranberry beans are one of the most colorful beans. They have a beige-pink color with red-brown spots and a sweet nutty flavor similar to chestnuts.
Their texture is soft and they’re ideal for salads, stews, soups, and other dishes. However, make sure to soak them before you cook them.
Are adzuki beans the same as red kidney beans?
Adzuki beans aren’t the same as red kidney beans. They are smaller and taste differently.
Can I substitute adzuki beans for pinto beans?
You can substitute adzuki beans for pinto beans because they have similar textures and flavors.
Are Goya small red beans adzuki beans?
Goya’s small red beans aren’t adzuki beans. They’re different types of beans.
Are black beans and adzuki beans the same?
Although there is a variety of adzuki beans with black color, black beans and adzuki beans aren’t the same.
Adzuki beans are specific beans with unique flavor and texture. You can use substitutes in both savory and sweet dishes. However, have in mind that you will not get the same flavor and texture.
What do you usually use as a substitute for Adzuki beans? Please, share your tips, questions, and suggestions in the comments. Let’s chat about beans.