Azuki beans are legumes of Asian origin, rich in beneficial properties: let's find out what they are and how to cook them.
Azuki beans (also called aduki or adzuki beans) are a type of red bean typical of eastern countries . The plant, Vigna Angularis , was cultivated since 1000 BC in the mountainous areas of China and Korea, and then spread to Japan . Right there they are considered the "kings of beans" , due to the numerous beneficial properties they possess and their consumption is second only to that of soy.
There are many varieties of this legume. The most common are small beans, smooth and dark red , but there are also black, green, yellow and white. They are recognized by a characteristic white line near the areola.
In Italy they are gradually becoming more and more known and appreciated thanks to the growing interest in oriental and macrobiotic cuisine. Let's see in detail what are the properties of azuki , how to cook them and if they have any particular contraindications.
Azuki beans: properties and benefits
Red azuki beans are rich in minerals and trace elements, especially zinc, potassium and molybdenum. They also contain folic acid and B vitamins, precious for the well-being of the whole organism and in particular of the heart and nervous system. Azuki , like all legumes, are a source of fiber and promote intestinal balance. It is therefore better to avoid its consumption in case of diarrhea or irritable colon, while it is excellent for those suffering from constipation or in case of lazy intestine.
In addition, these Chinese beans are rich in vegetable proteins and contain very little fat and sugar, therefore recommended for those with high cholesterol and diabetics.
Red beans are also excellent for purifying the liver , thanks to the presence of molybdenum, a trace element that contributes to the formation of sulphite oxidase, one of the main enzymes of this organ. Compared to white beans and other legumes, they are more digestible. In addition, they contain isoflavonoids and phytoestrogens , which are important for brain and bone health.
These legumes do not contain gluten so they are suitable for celiacs . Being a source of proteins, mineral salts and vitamins, they are particularly recommended for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet , to replace meat consumption.
How to cook azuki red beans
To cook azuki beans it is first necessary to soak them for at least 6-8 hours in cold water, as is done with all dried legumes. According to Japanese tradition, a piece of kombu seaweed should also be placed in the water.
After soaking, the red beans should be cooked for about half an hour in unsalted boiling water, preferably together with the kombu seaweed. Once cooked, they can be used to prepare many recipes . In Japan they are mainly used to create the famous Anko jam , which is later used as a filling for many sweets.
The most popular ones, which can be found without too many problems even here in Italy, are the Dorayaki , small “pancakes” filled with this jam.
In addition to desserts, beans can be used to prepare vegetarian soups, salads, meatballs and burgers , or to flavor pasta, rice and cereals. In short, they can easily replace other types of legumes.
Azuki beans: where can they be bought?
When it comes to Asian foods, a common fear is that they are not easily purchased products here in Italy. In fact, these legumes can be found without too much trouble in ethnic food or organic food stores . If you really can't find them physically, you can buy them directly on Amazon at very affordable prices.
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