Some unresolved thoughts about white bean paste

beanpaste.jpg

Usually when I put a recipe up here, it’s something that’s been fully resolved: that is, I’ve tried it out for myself (in most cases several times over), and I know that it works. This one is a bit different, but I thought I’d write about it in-progress, as it were, anyway.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been making batches of the same thing - white bean puree - at least once a week. This is just plain old white beans (sold around here as haricots blanc or Weissbohnen, known in the U.S. as navy beans I think) that are cooked until they are just about falling apart, drained and then whirled in a food processor until totally smooth. One reason I’ve been rather obsessed with this bean puree is because nutritionally it’s quite interesting - a balance of protein and carbohydrates, and vegan to boot. But I’m also very taken by its starchy creaminess. Oh, and it’s also really inexpensive.

I am still not sure what the best way to flavor the bean puree is. Here are some of the experiments I’ve done so far.

Sweet

White bean paste is the base of shiroan (白あん), which is used as a pale colored alternative to azuki an, azuki (adzuki) bean paste, in traditional Japanese sweets. But the recipes I’ve seen for making shiroan call for an astonishing amount of sugar - a minimum of 2 parts sugar to 3 parts dry beans in weight. I’ve experimented with much less sugar, but the minimum amount that seems to make a difference taste-wise is about 150 grams of sugar to 500 grams of pre-cooked weight dry beans. That’s far less than the traditional recipes. Adding some salt with the sugar (about 1 1/2 tsp. for 500 grams dry weight in beans) makes it taste a lot sweeter, paradoxically.

If this is dried out enough to stiffen the puree into a paste, it can be formed into little balls. As a looser puree, it’s interesting to eat with cut up fruit like mango and banana.

Maple syrup can be used instead of white sugar, but this makes for a looser puree because of the higher water content in the syrup. (And I go up to 200 g of maple syrup to 500g of dry-weight beans). This makes the puree taste very maple-y, of course.

I’ve also tried whirring it in a food processor with tofu, to make a thicker version of this tofu pudding. This was moderately successful - the texture improved, but the tofu flavor seemed to totally take over the white beans. Adding some cocoa powder made it into a thick and fairly tasty chocolate pudding though. Adding pureed bananas made it even better.

Savory

White bean paste makes a very nice hummus, following the recipe on this page - though the traditional chickpea base is just as good, if not better.

It does make an interesting thickener for a soup - just add blobs of puree to a vegetable soup base. This could make it interesting for people with gluten problems, and certainly would is a very filling main-meal vegan soup. (Pasta e Fagioli, white beans cooked in a broth with pasta added later, is a classic Italian bean soup.)

I’m still not entirely happy that I have hit on the right combinations though. The experiments continue.

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Rosemary?

I’ve seen white bean mash flavoured with rosemary in recipes before, and served as a side dish with roast lamb - never actually tried it though.

treehuggermums | 13 February, 2008 - 17:49

rosemary

I was going to say the say thing as treehuggermums. I’ve had white bean puree with garlic and rosemary in Italian-type restaurants as an appetizer with crusty bread, and I have to say I really like it. I found a recipe here: http://wellfed.typepad.com/well_fed/2007/09/crostini-with-w.html

I don’t recall having shiroan, but it intrigues me.

yoko | 13 February, 2008 - 19:23

What about these? Bhesnut

What about these?
Bhesnut Sweets
Her recipes usually work out beautifully.

Basak | 13 February, 2008 - 20:54

hmm

I’ll give the rosemary a try. And the Bhesnut sweets look great. Thanks!

maki | 13 February, 2008 - 22:13

Sweet...

For sweet, have you tried a sugar-substitute like Splenda? It is actually sweeter than sugar so you use less than you would with sugar, but I don’t like the aftertaste myself and it can really change the texture of the finished result. But it might be worth trying in small batches. Perhaps mixed with real sugar.

It’s tempting to me, considering the base texture, to try tossing in some salt, pepper & butter to make a mashed potato-like concoction to be eaten as a side. But I bet you’ve already had this.

What about mixing it with flour, etc and making a white bean loaf/bread? That can be done with potatoes, why not beans?

Or maybe some kind of white bean fritter…

Erica | 14 February, 2008 - 02:04

I like the idea of using

I like the idea of using white beans in a sweet way like azuki an. I never even though about using white beans in a sweet fashion.

Kevin | 14 February, 2008 - 04:21

Mmmm, beans

I gotta admit, the way I have always known whipped (mashed) beans is as a confection-and I adore it. Kuromame is one of my favorites and the sweet mashed azuki bean filling in a fuku-something?! mochi is absolutely delicious! The thing I like best about a sweet bean-filled mochi is that I like the contrast of the sweet with the bland. With each bite I get to regulate the ratio of sweet to (not sweet), not like any other confection I know. I also like this in ‘zenzai,’ a sweet azuki bean gruel laden with balls of bland mochi (definition for your readers, Maki). A friend of mine is Mormon, and therefore is into food storage-for the rapture she tells me. Anyway, she has been storing beans and grains for a long time and needed to start cooking these items. She has been trying different recipes and has been letting me try them. She brought ‘bean fudge’ to the office one day, mashed beans sweetened with chocolate. I am not a big fan of fudge, which I consider chocolate frosting without a cake, but dudos to her. Also, mashed (whipped) beans seem to have hit the trendy ‘Pacific Rim Cuisine’ market here in Honolulu. I had whipped white beans here in Honolulu served as starch with my meal at the exclusive ‘Roy’s’ restaurant. Beans, and ancient fare, served along trendy mango salsa laced Mahimahi, delicious!

Mitch | 14 February, 2008 - 21:32

the Moosewood Sunday

the Moosewood Sunday Cookbook has a lovely recipe that uses olive oil infused with sage, rosemary, and garlic (I like to put the oil and herbs in a mise en place cup in the toaster oven at a low temperature for about half an hour) and lemon juice to flavor white bean puree. Unfortunately I don’t have the cookbook with me right now, but the concept should hold.

purpleshoes | 15 February, 2008 - 19:18

Have you considered using

Have you considered using the bean paste to make some yukon?
My current trial recipe is as such: 1 tsp agar-agar powder, 1 cup water, 3/4C white bean paste (no apparent liquid, and no sugar), 1/2C sugar, and 1 tsp green-tea powder (can be stronger). I would love to hear your approach and feedback.

cool | 18 February, 2008 - 19:45

Your shiro an confuses me.

Your shiro an confuses me. The process of making shiro koshian is way more time consuming than just blending it. Part of the whole traditional way of making koshian is to seperate the skins from the meat of the beans. And the problem with the shiroan being to water-y with the more maple syrup you put in can be fix simlpy by cooking it longer, making sure to constintly stir the an so it doesn’t burn. Cooking it longer cooks the water out of the an.

Cliff | 19 February, 2008 - 09:46

I haven’t said that it’s

I haven’t said that it’s shiroan, or that I’m making a traditional shiroan, which I happen to not like that much (I’m not a big fan of nerikiri sweets for that reason). I simply said that ‘white bean paste is the basis of shiroan’. Also, there is a whole-bean type of shiroan that is used sometimes. As I said, this are just some experimentation notes as to what to do with white bean paste.

maki | 19 February, 2008 - 12:01

Oooooooooooooooooh ok I

Oooooooooooooooooh ok I understand now. Thanks

Cliff | 20 February, 2008 - 09:38

uncheese

There’s a really popular cookbook that uses beans as the basis for some mock cheeses. They may or may not taste cheese-like to an omnivore (I’m vegan, have been for quite some time, and frankly don’t really remember what dairy cheese really tastes like), but they are really really good in their own right. Here’s a link to it. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6rTPl_JTVrUC

sinead | 4 April, 2008 - 15:40

Following up on the yokan

Following up on the yokan remark, you might consider using your bean paste along with some other cooked and creamed vegetables (or not-so-creamed, at your liking). Mix, stiffen with agar, and voila, original-style yokan.

You can also find maple sugar powder, by the way …

John

anon. | 8 May, 2008 - 23:11

Re: Some unresolved thoughts about white bean paste

I don't know where to get azuki beans, other than by mailorder, in Nebraska, so I might have to try this for making some sweets. :)

DC | 16 June, 2009 - 02:46

mexican use for white bean pure

Hello!
fist of all, i really like your blog, i been learnig a lot of things, Thanks :D
second, in mexico, when the beans are cooked, we sligtly fried the beans (with little or no liquid, and onion optional) and pure them, we eat them plain, with white rice or spread on top of a tostada (dried or fried tortilla) top with cream, cheese, salsa and chiken, but toppings are acorging to taste :D

Dunia | 11 July, 2011 - 22:37

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