February 27, 2023

Homemade White Bean Paste 白豆沙餡

Homemade, chinese, recipe, White Bean Paste,  white bean filling, 白豆沙, 餡

Up until recently I had never heard of white bean paste 白豆沙.  Red bean paste 紅豆沙, yes, and how I love the flavor of it.  But never white bean paste.  It turns out that white bean paste is really quite lovely, with the same fine creamy texture of red bean paste but having a milder sweet creamy flavor that's perfect for stuffing a Chinese pastry.

In Japan white bean paste is used for many desserts and is known as 'Shiro-an.'

We needed white bean paste to make chocolate paste filling for our raspberry chocolate tang yuan 覆盆子巧克力湯圓.  So yummilicious!   And even more exciting is that we realized that white bean paste, with its mild sweet flavor and light color, can be used as a base for all kinds of innovative fillings in Chinese pastries.  

In other words: White bean paste + added flavor = exciting new flavor !

It turns out it's a cinch to make white bean paste 白豆沙 at home.  Super duper easy!  Homemade White Bean Paste 白豆沙 is soft and creamy with a mildly sweet, slightly beany flavor.  You can use the paste as is or go on to be crazy creative and experiment to discover new and exciting pastes to fill your pastries with!

There are different kinds of beans you can use.  Any bean that is white and has a light taste will do the trick.  In Taiwan they use the jack bean 白鳳豆 which is impossible to find in HK.  Alternative beans to use are lima beans (also known as butter beans), navy beans, white kidney beans or cannellini beans.  I would recommend the larger beans as it will be easier to peel the skins.

There are two ways that white bean paste can be made.  First by using dried beans and second by using canned beans.  If using dried beans, you will need to soak the beans overnight, pinch the skins off and then cook until tender.

In the photo here we are using dried butter beans, also known as lima beans.

Here are the dried beans after they have been reconstituted in water.  Just leave em in overnight to expand and the next day pinch off the skin of the beans.

Homemade, chinese, recipe, White Bean Paste,  white bean filling, 白豆沙, 餡

An easier option is to get a can of beans.  We had a can of butter beans on hand.  It was so convenient to open the cans, pour out into a sieve and pinch off the skins.  All ready to make paste!

Note:  After making white bean paste from both canned and dried beans we have found that the paste made from dried beans is whiter and therefore of better use for adding colors.

Homemade, chinese, recipe, White Bean Paste,  white bean filling, 白豆沙, 餡

Mashing time!  The dried beans need to be simmered until easily smooshed in fingers.  Canned beans are already soft so mashing is easy.  I used one end of my rolling pin to mash right in the cooking pot.  

After a good mash, pass the paste thru a sieve.  Use a silicon scrapper to push the paste thru.  This will ensure that the paste is truly fine and smooth.

Homemade, chinese, recipe, White Bean Paste,  white bean filling, 白豆沙, 餡

The only other ingredients needed are sugar and smidge of salt.   The salt really brings out the flavor up a notch.  An optional ingredient is maltose syrup, which further enhances the flavor but does make the paste a bit more yellow.

Homemade, chinese, recipe, White Bean Paste,  white bean filling, 白豆沙, 餡

Cooking with low heat the sugar melts and the mixture will become quite liquid.  Keep cooking and stirring until the mixture thickens and becomes a paste that does not stick to your fingers.

And that's it.  Simple and beautiful.  Your white bean paste is done.  Easy peasy, right?  

Homemade, chinese, recipe, White Bean Paste,  white bean filling, 白豆沙, 餡
Chinese White Bean Paste Recipe
(makes 15.5oz/440g paste)  Prep time: 5 mins  Cook Time:15 mins



If using dried beans, soak in cool water overnight.  Remove from soaking water, then pinch off the skins.  Add to a large pot of boiling water and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are soft.

If using canned beans pour beans out of can into a strainer to remove canning water.  Remove skins from beans by pinching the edge of bean and pulling.  The skins should come off quite easily.  

Mash the beans.  Pass the paste thru a sieve, using a scrapper to push the paste thru.

Put the beans in a small cooking pot.  Add in sugar and salt.  Add maltose if using.  Cook over low heat.  As the sugar melts the mixture will become quite liquid.  Keep cooking, stirring often, for 15 mins or until the paste is thick, easily gathered into a ball with a spatula and does not stick to your finger. 

Remove from heat and let cool.  When completely cooled it's ready to use.  If not using right away, wrapped in cling film and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.  If storing longer than that put in freezer.  Enjoy!

Note: This mild flavored and sweet white bean paste can be used as is to fill Chinese pastries.  You can also add flavor powders to it to make all kinds of flavored pastry fillings like chocolate, sweet potato, strawberry, raspberry, matcha, sakura flower fillings, etc.


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