Adzuki Bean Tofu


Adzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free Tofu

This adzuki bean tofu hails from the Japanese-inspired Alternative Flours Feastly dinner Phi and I hosted in February 2015. While I still not-so-fondly recall the insane amount of work this 6-course plated meal for 14 people took to put on the table, it also forced out some pretty badass recipes (chestnut flour pasta, black sesame and wild rice crackers, and kinako black sesame millet crumble). This adzuki bean tofu is no exception. Why I’ve been hanging onto this particular recipe for well over a year kind of makes me a jerk.

Adzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free TofuAdzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free TofuAdzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free Tofu

Back then, I naively thought that day’s 12+ hours on my feet was the worst pain they’d ever feel. Then came 30 extra pounds of pregnancy weight and 8+ hours on my feet 3 days in a row. (Can you tell I’m ready for #cheesebabygirl to vacate my belly?)

After two full days cooking and styling for the NYT with Alanna, Lucas and I threw one last housewarming dessert party shindig two weekends ago to see all our local friends before we inevitably disappear for at least a month while we figure out what to do with all the baby poop (real talk). In true Sarah style, I planned an extensive dessert menu (mochi cake, chocolate cupcakes, rice crispy treats, oatmeal cookies, a rosemary apple galette, and salted caramel fondue with dipping apples) with mulled hot apple cider brewing on the stove. And I also planned to make it all the day of, obviously.

Meanwhile my parents were in town – mom for grandparenting class (and then allofthedishes – thank god) while we wrangled my retired-contractor dad into helping Lucas run plumbing and electrical to move our washer and dryer from inside the house to the garage to make space for a home office. In heavy rainy mud. The day of the party. NO BIG DEAL. 

But now I’ve got a custom-built desk in our tiny house(!!). That conveniently still has cold and hot water spigots attached to the wall next to my desk chair. You know, in case I suddenly get…thirsty?

By party-o-clock, my ankles had swollen to the size of grapefruits, but we pulled it off (hats off to party guests like Karen who offer to sweep my floor and slice apples). I plan to stay off my feet until I’m at least 15lbs lighter (aside from 20 jumping jacks a night between now and labor – that will work, right?). In all seriousness – I complain now, but when all is said and done we get a soft snuggly baby that smells so good. So worth it.

Adzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free Tofu

Back to this soyless “tofu.” The idea for adzuki bean tofu came when I stumbled across Sarah’s genius chickpea tofu from My New Roots while holding onto a bag of adzuki beans I’d planned to mill into flour. I figured beans were beans and, using her same method, I swapped out the chickpea flour and turmeric/garlic seasoning for home-milled adzuki bean flour with sesame oil and ginger.

The texture of this “tofu” is heavenly – incredibly creamy and tender, while still holding together when gently fried. Usually served in various Asian desserts in sweet red bean paste form, the toasty nuttiness of adzuki beans also makes for a flavorful vegetarian protein in savory dishes. The simplicity of flavors in this bean tofu gives it versatility – serve it as an appetizer lightly seared topped with tamari sauce, scallions, pickled ginger, and toasted sesame seeds as I’ve done here, toss it over salad with sesame vinaigrette, or fry up thin slices for the top of a veggie stir-fry.

Adzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free TofuAdzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free Tofu

Used in traditional Chinese medicine, adzuki beans are thought to strengthen kidney and bladder function, and support reproductive health. A magical bean! But not that kind – they’re considered the most easy to digest legume, so they won’t give you gas. Plus adzuki beans are low in calories and fat but high in nutrition to fill you up quickly with less caloric intake.

With all that combined with its vibrant purple hue, you should probably make adzuki tofu for your Valentine and follow it up with this strawberry red bean mochi for dessert.

Adzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free Tofu

The process involved in making this recipe is pretty foolproof and hands off – the most high-maintenance part of making adzuki tofu is turning your beans into flour. I ran mine through my KitchenAid grain mill, but even if you don’t have an electric grain mill, you’ve got options (high-speed blender, hand mill, or coffee grinder). Check out Erin’s post on the tools for grinding your own flours to read about them all.

Adzuki Bean Tofu - Soy Free Tofu

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Adzuki Bean Tofu
Yields: So much tofu
  • 3 cups (450g) adzuki bean flour (ground dried adzuki beans*)
  • 15 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • (Optional) For serving: thinly sliced scallions, pickled ginger, toasted sesame seeds, and tamari sauce
  1. In a large stock pot or bowl, stir together the adzuki flour and water. Cover the pot and let it sit over night for about 12 hours.
  2. In the morning, without disturbing the pot, carefully ladle and discard 6 cups of water off the top.
  3. Line a 9x12 baking dish with a tea towel or cheese cloth.
  4. In another large pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and cook until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Without disturbing the sludge at the bottom too much, gently pour the remaining water off the top of the the large stockpot over the fragrant ginger. Add salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes, until it simmers and begins to thicken.
  6. Slowly add the adzuki bean sludge into the simmering water. It will almost immediately thicken. Cook, stirring vigorously to avoid burning the bottom of the pot, for 10 minutes until the mixture thickens almost to the consistency of thin mashed potatoes or polenta.
  7. Pour the thickened mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Fold the edges of the cloth over and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours. Slice and eat immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to one week (or share half with your friends...).
  8. My favorite way to serve the tofu is to fry up cubes in a thin layer of sesame oil over medium heat for 1 minute and serve over a few drops of tamari sauce topped with scallions, pickled ginger, and toasted sesame seeds. It also goes well in salads or seared and thrown over stir fry.
*I grind my adzuki beans using my KitchenAid grain mill attachment. If you don't have an electric grain mill, you can grind the adzuki beans in a high-powered blender (like a Blendtec or Vitamix), with an less expensive hand grinder, or slowly in a coffee grinder.

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  1. This is gorgeous Sarah! I love the colors! I love that your mom is going to grandmothering classes. As if she needs tips after sewing your baby an entire wardrobe! PS I have never even heard of adzuki beans. You are awesome.

  2. Hello, my name is Lily and I am officially in love with you. HOLY MOTHER OF ALL TOFUS. This. Is. Exquisite. Bowing down to kiss your tired, swollen feet. This just made my week. I cannot wait to try it.

  3. Betty says:

    Wow, this is pure magic. I’ve never heard of such an exquisite treat. This is so you, and I’m so so in love with this post! <3 Hope everything is going well, and thinking about you :)

  4. Who knew tofu could be so beautiful!!

  5. These are the prettiest little tofu-less tofu bites I’ve ever seen! And pack with goodness too. What a delicious recipe.. thank you for the supporting links. I first heard of Adzuki beans in pastry school. A class mate was from japan and she raved about them… from sweets to savory, she used them in so many recipes. I’ve yet to give them a go… but you’ve inspired me, Sarah! And of course your stunning photog.. I love it all! Take care my dear.. and be easy on your poor feet. xo

    • Adzuki beans are just one of my favorites in sweets – this is the only time I’ve ever had them savory (unless maybe when we were on our honeymoon?). You definitely need to give them a go! Thank you so much for your sweet note – my feet are much better this week since I’ve been staying off of them! But I’m certainly ready to meet this lil’ lady! Hope you’re well too! xoxo!

  6. Gena says:

    I’ve always wanted to try my hand at homemade tofu, but I’ve been much too intimidated :) Thanks for making it look effortless and beautiful, Sarah!

  7. This is exquisite, Sarah! I don’t think I’ve ever had Adzuki beans before. You’ve officially peaked my interest. I hope as I’m writing this comment #cheesebabygirl is on her way!!

    • I WISH she were on her way – we just can’t wait any longer! You should definitely seek out adzuki beans – a good starter way to find them is sweetened for desserts at an Asian market! Pairs perfectly with matcha or mochi anything.

  8. This adzuki bean tofu is STUNNING! All the flavours sound so perfect, too. You seriously hit this one out of the park! Also, I want a grain mill so bad. Someday!

  9. Um, everything from that dinner sounds amazing but this tofu is just totally gorge!

  10. Christine says:

    You.Amaze.Me. Seriously, is there anything you cannot make Sarah? And that party? I feel like I would get myself into the same sort of situation, but I’m still so impressed and I bet it was lovely. I still wish my trip would have aligned with the date of your Feastly dinner, it would have been amazing to be there!

    • Aw – you’re making me blush. I was actually thinking that this would be a recipe that you’d love to eat, Christine! I so wish you could have come to the Feastly dinner too! Come back and visit again soon:)

  11. Rowena Alberga says:

    They look both lovely and delicious. I can’t use sesame oil though (friend’ s allergies), do you have a suggestion for s substitute? (nut oils would be ok). Thanks

    • Olive oil or peanut oil would both work for making the tofu – you could really use any oil! If you want to sear it, I’d just use an oil you love the flavor of – so peanut oil would be great!

  12. 1. You impress me ALL THE TIME.
    2. I don’t think Sean has forgiven himself (or me?) for missing your party.
    4. MMmmm, this looks as incredible as it sounded. YASSSSSSS.

  13. Jill says:

    Can I use mong bean instead of adzuki bean ?

    • I’ve never used mung bean to make it, but I assume it would work just the same! The recipe I adapted this one from used chickpea flour and it was the same process.

  14. Jill says:

    Thank you so much for your post and advise. I made it with chickpea before and Adzuki tonight. My husband loves mong beans , I will try it soon.

  15. Auja Finley says:

    If I wanted to make this and store it in the freezer as a staple, do you know how it wold hold up ? I am the only vegan in the house and would love to make this as my hemp tofu replacement.

    • I have tried freezing it, but I haven’t eaten it from the freezer yet, so I am not sure how it’d hold up! I feel like it might get soggy when defrosted. I’d recommend starting with a half batch instead of making a lot and freezing it! I’ll let you know once I defrost this batch!

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