What Does Red Bean Taste Like?

The most common food that contains red beans is known as red bean paste and is a Japanese food that has become hugely popular in other parts of the world.  

Red bean doesn’t have a distinct flavor. It’s a little sweet, a little savory, and totally delicious, although it can get a little too sweet if you use too much sugar — but it’s hard to overdo it!

While you can make it sweet or savory, it’s delicious either way.

But there is quite a lot of confusion surrounding the red bean, what it is and what it tastes like. So, in this article, we thought we would answer the questions of what does red bean taste like and dive a little deeper into the various culinary delights it can be found in.  

What Are Red Beans? 

While commonly referred to as red beans, these legumes are actually known as adzuki beans and are native to areas in the southeast of Asia. Due to this, they are often found in Asian dishes, particularly those in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China. 

Their name may suggest that they are red in colour, and for the most part, this is true. However, there are varieties that are grey, brown, black and white.  

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Red beans can look very similar to other types of bean, most notably, the kidney bean and this leads people to question whether they are the same thing or something entirely different. 

Is a kidney bean the same as a red bean? 

In short, kidney beans and red beans are not the same things, while they may look similar, there are some clear differences.  

Red beans are usually a lot smaller than kidney beans. Furthermore, the colour is slightly different. A kidney bean is normally much darker than a red bean whose colour has a slightly pink hue whereas the kidney bean is more of a deep crimson.  

What Does Red Bean Taste Like? 

In a lot of cases, red beans are sweetened before being consumed. However, this is not to say that they do not have a good taste when eaten as they are.  

The red bean has a nutty quality which has a mild sweetness to it. The texture is typically very mealy and soft.  

A lot of people ask ‘does red bean taste good’ but the answer is a very personal one. Some people like the nutty taste since it is not overly offensive, whereas some do not enjoy the taste.  

That being said, with a slightly sweet nature, red beans are often used in sweeter dishes and, as we have discovered, are highly favoured in certain Asian cuisines.  

What Does Red Bean Paste Taste Like? 

Red bean paste is made from Adzuki beans, or red beans as they are more lovingly known. In Japan, it is called Anko and is a very popular dish. However, sugar is also added to this food so you will find that, while you get the flavour of the beans, it is typically much sweeter than usual.  

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A lot of people would compare the taste of red bean paste to sweet potato. The texture might also be reminiscent of the texture of blended sweet potato since it is incredibly smooth. That being said, there are variations on this depending on how the paste has been prepared.  

In the main, these pastes are made to be free from whole beans and are used in desserts. However, they may sometimes be made with either whole or partial beans still intact to give a deeper and more textured paste.  

What Does Red Bean Ice Cream Taste Like? 

If you are headed to Japan, you should be prepared to experience red bean ice cream since this is one of the most popular desserts in this country that is filled with fascinating things to eat. 

A traditional red bean ice cream is made with milk, sugar and red beans, so it has a different texture to the ice cream that you may be accustomed to tasting.  

With the addition of the adzuki beans, you can expect this ice cream to have that nutty flavour that we have already discussed. But with the addition of sugar, there is a delicate sweetness.  

The ice cream is also often topped with some wonderful foods, most commonly sesame seeds give a deeper nutty flavour. However, for those who like things a little more creamy, a lot of people pour condensed milk onto the red bean ice cream.  

What Does Red bean Mochi Taste Like? 

If you’ve been exploring red bean dishes, you will likely have read about red bean mochi. But what flavour is red bean mochi? 

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These small rice flour-cased sweet treats from Japan are filled with red bean ice cream. They have a slightly chewy texture which is perfectly complemented by the casing but they are also beautifully soft. The red bean ice cream melts in the mouth and is very smooth.  

The red bean mochi is an ideal dessert item for times when you don’t want something overly sweet. There is a sweetness to it but this is paired with the nutty flavour of the bean making it quite subdued and delicate.  

What Can I Use Instead Of Red Bean Paste? 

Outside of areas where red bean paste is popular, it can sometimes be difficult to come by it. However, if you cannot get your hands on some red bean paste, you have two choices; make your own red bean paste or find one of the many red bean paste substitutes.  

The best option is to use white bean paste which is very similar only it has a slightly less beany taste.  

In Conclusion 

Red beans are commonly found growing across parts of Asia and as such, have been integrated into many of the cuisines of the areas. Most notably, red bean paste features in Japanese cooking, particularly sweet dishes.  

This is an incredibly popular ingredient that has a nutty flavour but is also sweet. Red beans can be eaten on their own but more commonly are used in the paste to include in ice cream and other sweet dishes.  

If you cannot get hold of red bean paste, you might use white bean paste which is one of the best substitutes.