How to cook Azuki beans and make Anko (sweet red bean paste)




This weekend it is Spring Higan(彼岸) in Japan. Higan is a Buddhist holiday and we have 2 Higans in a year, one in Spring and the other in the fall. It is always around Spring and Autumnal Equinox. People visit their family grave during Higan holiday. I spoke with my mother today and she said she was at our family grave yesterday.

We make a special sweets called “Botamochi” for Higan in spring. We make the same sweets for fall Higan too but then it changes its name to “Ohagi”.   I think it comes from this Japanese culture of appreciating seasonal things so highly, “Botamochi” is named after the spring flower “Botan” (Peony) and “Ohagi” is from the fall flower of “Hagi” (Lespedeza).  When the season changes, the flowers change, and the name of sweets changes accordingly.




Today I made small Botamochi and served it in Dango style.

To make Botamochi you need to cook Azuki beans to make sweet Azuki bean paste called “Anko (あんこ)”. When cooking Azuki beans:
1. You do not soak Azuki beans in water before cooking
2. When you cook Azuki, you start with very high heat
3. When adding sugar, you add it in several separate times

Rinse 250g Azuki beans gently in cold water. Put the beans in a pot and add 1 L cold water. Put on high heat and cook until it boils.


When it starts to boil, drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water, put them in a clean pot and cover them with 1 L of fresh cold water. Again put it on high heat. Azuki beans have a character that they absorb water and get cooked better when the temperature of the cooking water changes. It is a kind of temperature shock and the bean’s skin stretches and it cooks better.


After it has reached boiling temperature again reduce the heat to medium heat and simmer. Azuki beans cook well at a temperature just below boiling about 90℃. You can add a 1/4 cup of fresh cold water under cooking, we call it a “Bikkuri Mizu” (a surprise water) in Japanese, it is really to bring the cooking water’s temperature shockingly down to attain the good results when cooking Azuki beans. In this term, a pressure cooker cooks faster but I find it too high heat for Azuki beans and it is difficult to benefit from this shocking tricks in the sealed high pressure environment.




When the beans are cooked and soft about after 30-40 min, discard 2/3 cooking water, add 200g sugar (I put sugar about 80% of the bean’s weight. You can add more sugar if you like really sweet one). Do not add the whole amount of sugar at once. If you do that sugar absorbs water in the beans and the beans get tough. Add sugar in 3-4 separate times.
If you discard all the cooking water and make paste, you get “Anko- red bean paste”.


Bon Appetite!
xxx Rie




Japanese Chiffon Cake


Tomorrow I will be teaching at a cooking class in Oslo, there will be 15 students, including 2 Norwegian men! I went and bought all the food on Friday,


After the class there will be a time to introduce this organic Tofu which I think is a much better Tofu both in taste and quality,


and my cooking uniform (an apron) is now washed and ironed.


I hope everyone will have a good cooking day with me!

We will eat all what we will cook and I offered to bake cakes for dessert, Japanese Chiffon Cake.



I baked 3 Chiffon Cakes today and have memorized each every step and the recipe which is like this :

JAPANESE CHIFFON CAKE (cake dish 20cm diameter) 

7 egg whites
60g sugar
Cream of tartar  1/8 tea spoon 

7 egg yolks
60g sugar
60cc salad oil
80cc cold water

120g flour
1/2 tea spoon of baking powder

1. Preheat the ovent to 170℃

2. Put the egg whites and Cream of Tartar in a bowl. Using an electric mixer  whip it up to a fine meringue. Add the sugar (60g) in 3 batches. Whip until stiff peaks.


3.  Transfer the egg whites to another bowl and put it in the fridge.

4.  Put the egg yolks in the bowl (the same bowl you used to whip up the egg whites) and whip with the electric mixer. Add the sugar in 3 batches and continue to whip until they turn like creamy mayonnaise.   Add the salad oil a little by little.  Mix well.

5.  Add the water a little by little. Mix well.

6.  Shift flour and baking powder together and add to the egg yolks. Mix with a spatula.

7.  Take out the meringue from your fridge. Add it into the egg yolks in 4 batches.

8.  Pour into the Chiffon Cake mold. Rap the pan 2-3 times (you lift the whole baking mold with the cake batter in it up 15 cm or so and let it drop on to the kitchen counter. This way big bubbles in the cake batter will disappear).

Bake in the oven 45-50 minutes.


9.  When the cake is baked please take it out of the oven and flip it upside down on a cup. (yes, the cup is also placed upside down)


10.  I have it upside down and let it cool for 3-4 hours.
When it is completely cold, you can insert a thin bladed knife and carefully separate the mold and the cake.


S5使うよChiffon cake


Enjoy this fluffy Chiffon Cake!

This recipe is from CookPad ID 254318

Blueberry Cake


This year they say forests are full of berries in Norway and I notice it even in my little garden, yeah you may have seen I made jams several times this summer. The red currants this year was unusually big and I made a jar of jelly with these beautiful red pearls, 200% homemade!


The picking season for wild berries starts in July and will continue to September or maybe even to October if the weather will stay on the right track. Yesterday I read on newspapers that people are picking so much of blue berries in the forests just outside of Oslo. The wild blue berries in Norway are small in size compared to the American blue berries but the concentration of its sugar and the color is really strong and brilliant. When you get hold of good fresh blue berries, please try this recipe, I think you will love it!


* Ingredients *

100g fresh blue berries

250g flour + 1/2 table spoon flour 
2 tea spoons of baking powder
1/2 tea spoon of salt

2 medium sized eggs
170g sugar
120g plain yoghurt
120g sour cream
2 tea spoons of vanila extract
120ml salad oil

Icing – 60g powder sugar mixed with 1/2 table spoon of milk

1. Preheat your oven at 175℃
2. Grease and flour your pan about 13cm x 20cm

3. Put the blue berries in a small bowl and toss with 1/2 table spoon of flour

4. In a bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk. Mix and try to incorporate air into flour!

5. In another bowl, crack the eggs, add sugar, mix it very well. You do not need to use a hand mixer, just use a fork and beat fast. Add vanilla extract and yoghurt and sour cream. (If you don’t have sour cream, it is ok to use only yoghurt, 240g in total)  Change to a whisk and mix well. While you keep whisking, add oil a little by little.

6. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Fold with a gentle hand to keep as much air as possible in the batter. Add 2/3 of the blue berries in the batter. Try to coat them with the cake batter. Pour into the cake pan.


7. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 blue berries into the pan. You don’t need to push them in the batter, they will sink as he cake rises in the oven but this way you will have blue berries in different layers and I think you can avoid having all the blue berries gathered and sank together in the cake.

8. Bake for 60 minutes. Insert a cake tester in the center of the cake to see if it is baked through.

9. Cool and glaze with the icing. Wait another 10 minutes before slicing to have the icing completely set on the cake.


Bon Appetite!

xxx Rie