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Japanese Sweet Red Bean Paste (Yude azuki)

ingredients

9 oz (250 g) aduki beans or red soy beans
bicarbonate of soda
10 oz (300 g) sugar
5 fl oz (150 ml) peanut oil
2 tbsp vanilla sugar or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

decorate with:

small mint leaves

serve with:

vanilla ice cream
peeled, sliced kiwi fruit or fruit salad

method

1. Soak the beans overnight or for at least 12 hours in plenty of cold water; when they have finished soaking, rinse in a sieve under running cold water.

2. Place in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or flameproof casserole dish with 2 3/4 pints (1 1/2 litres) cold water. Bring quickly to the boil over a high heat, turn down the heat to low, add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda, stir and cover, leaving a chink for the steam to escape.

3. Simmer gently for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until the beans are very tender. Add a small pinch of salt when they are nearly done. Remove from the heat and put the beans and any remaining liquid through the vegetable mill with a fine-gauge disc fitted. Return the puree to the saucepan or casserole dish and stir in the sugar and oil.

4. When these have been added to the puree, stir in the vanilla sugar or vanilla essence. Cook the puree over a low heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens to a paste.

5. Leave to cool at room temperature before packing into sterilized glass preserving or jam jars with airtight seals or lids.

6. This red bean paste goes very well with vanilla ice cream with kiwi fruit or a mixed fruit salad; use a small scoop to add 1 or 2 portions of the paste to each ice cream serving.

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