This is a soup made with red adzuki beans sweetened with rock sugar and flavoured with dried citrus peel. It is a popular Chinese dessert that can be served hot, chilled, or even frozen as an ice block. This recipe has virtually no prep or soaking time, and using a pressure cooker you can make this in half an hour.
I was lucky to grow up with two cultures, Scottish and Cantonese, which meant exposure to two very different types of desserts. On the Scottish side it was nearly always pudding, and on the Cantonese side it was tang sui. Tang sui literally translates to sugar water, and it’s a category of sweet soup-based desserts.
The top three tang sui my mum would make were sweet potato, black sesame, and red bean. I really hope to have recipes for all three on the blog one day, but for now here is the red bean version.
To make this dish add 1.5 cups of red adzuki beans to a pressure cooker along with 1.5 L of water, 150 gm rock sugar (broken into smaller pieces), a piece of dried tangerine peel and 3/4 tsp salt. Cook for 28 minutes then release the pressure valve – and that’s it!
Electric Pressure Cooker vs Stovetop
I make red bean soup using an electric pressure cooker to avoid the soaking time, which I’m usually not organised enough to remember to do in advance. If you do want to make this on a stovetop then soak the beans overnight first (8+ hours), then simmer all ingredients until the beans are cooked to your liking, about 45-60 minutes.
Sourcing the Ingredients
Adzuki beans, rock sugar and dried tangerine peel can be purchased from Asian groceries. I have not been able to find these ingredients in mainsteam supermarkets where I live (Canberra, Australia).
Breaking up the Rock Sugar
The rock sugar I buy comes in very large pieces, so I like to break it up before adding to the pressure cooker just to ensure it dissolves properly. Rock sugar is hard and sharp, so to break it up wrap it in a tea towel, then wrap a rolling pin with a tea towel and bash the sugar a couple of times. I’ve tried this without wrapping my wooden rolling pin and it ended up with dents all over it. There’s no need to break it up too finely, in fact I caution you not to as it starts to resemble broken glass.
How to Serve Red Bean Soup
Red bean soup can be served hot or chilled, and my favourite way is chilled. I just keep a jug in my fridge and scoop out what I want into a bowl. There are a range of things you can serve this with, like coconut milk/cream, sago balls, glutinous rice cakes and longans, however after some experimenting I still prefer the soup plain.
Other Recipes Similar to Red Bean Soup
- Rainbow che
- Banana and coconut che
- Red coconut sweet sticky rice
- Mung bean pastry cake
- Black bean and smashed avocado burritos
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Pressure Cooker Red Bean Soup (Hong Dou Tang)
A popular Chinese soup made with adzuki beans, sweetened with rock sugar and flavoured with tangerine peel.
- 1.5 cups/ 315 gm red adzuki beans
- 150 gm rock sugar
- 1 dried tangerine peel
- 6 cups/ 1.5 L water
- 3/4 tsp salt
Rinse the adzuki beans under running water, then drain and place in pressure cooker.
Break up the rock sugar into smaller pieces, then add to pressure cooker.
Add the dried tangerine peel, water and salt.
Cook in electric pressure cooker on "soup" setting for 28 – 32 minutes. (at 28 minutes the beans are cooked with a little bit of bite. Cook for longer if you enjoy your adzuki beans soft.)
After 28 minutes, release the pressure valve in accordance to your electric pressure cooker manual guidelines. If the the valve begins to bubble, then set the valve to natural release until done.