Red bean paste or adzuki beans paste is a dark red sweet bean paste used in many Chinese desserts and pastries. This paste is also widely used in Japanese and Korean cuisines. Red bean paste buns (dou sha bao in Mandarin) is one of the most popular Chinese desserts, these buns can be either steamed or baked. Chinese buns or baozi are leavened bread stuffed with an assortment of either savoury or sweet fillings. Red bean paste is normally concocted by boiling adzuki beans until soft, mashed and then sweetened with sugar or honey. The beans can either be softly mashed or processed into a smooth paste. Sometimes, whole boiled soft beans are added back to the smooth bean paste for additional texture.
For my gluten free red bean paste buns recipe, I am using gluten free bread flour flavoured with mandarin oranges juice and zest and the gluten free buns are filled with boiled and lightly mashed red bean paste sweetened with agave syrup. This recipe is not only gluten free, it is also vegan, dairy free, nut free, egg free and refined sugar free. Check out my other gluten free buns (baozi) recipes: Chinese Steamed Custard Buns; Chinese Steamed Barbeque Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao); and Vegan Pandan Kaya Buns (Coconut Jam Buns).
Types of Chinese Red Bean Paste Desserts and Pastries
Other popular Chinese desserts and pastries using red bean paste are: red bean soup (hong dou sha tang), a type of thick sweet soup (tong sui in Cantonese); glutinous rice balls filled with red bean paste in ginger syrup (tang yuan); steamed or boiled glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves (zong zi); mooncakes (ye bing), a thin dough baked pastry filled with red bean paste normally eaten during the Mid Autumn Festival; fried glutinous rice balls (jian dui) filled with red bean pastes; red bean cake (hong dou gao) and red bean pancakes. Check out my gluten free recipe for Creamy Coconut Red Bean with Black Rice soup. Red bean paste is also widely used as a condiment in ice kacang (Malaysian shaved ice dessert) and in making ice cream and popsicles in Asia.
The adzuki beans (scientific name: Vigna angularis) are legumes that were first cultivated in East Asia and the Himalayan province many thousands of years ago. In China and Korea, they were cultivated as far back as 1000 BC and was introduced to Japan about one thousand years ago. Adzuki beans are packed full of nutrients and not only low in calories and high in dietary fibre as well as antioxidants, but also rich in protein, making them a perfect protein substitute for vegetarians or vegans. Adzuki beans are an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, phosphorus and manganese. They are also a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and folate (folic acid). Health benefits of adzuki beans include: help maintain a healthy digestive system; aid in weight management; reduction in the level of bad cholesterol in the body; reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases; help build muscle mass; help maintain normal blood sugar level; assist the body to fight against free radicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; and maintenance of bone health.
Red Bean Paste Buns (Dou Sha Bao)
- Some vegan butter for greasing the muffin pans
For the dough:
- 850 g 30oz/1.87Ib gluten free white bread flour (Laucke Easy Bakers)
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 400 ml rice milk
For the Mandarin Orange Juice (250ml):
- 1½ teaspoon grated mandarin orange zest
- 4 medium mandarin oranges choose mandarin oranges with thicker and firmer skin
For the Red Bean Paste Filling:
- 120 g 4.2oz dried adzuki beans, washed and soaked overnight with 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons gluten free corn maize starch mixed well with ½ cup water
- 1½ teaspoon mandarin orange zest
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups 250ml water
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup
- 2 non-stick 12 cup muffin pans
For the mandarin juice:
- Place peeled and seeded mandarin oranges into a Nutribullet or food processor and pulverise until you get a smooth juice. Strain through a fine sieve, using a tablespoon to press on the mandarin oranges pulp to release more juice. Add the mandarin orange zest to the juice and set aside. You need 250ml of mandarin orange juice.
For the Red Bean Paste filling:
- Pour the soaked overnight red beans and water into a medium pot. Add a further 2 cups (250ml) water and bring to a rolling boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until red beans are very soft. Stirring occasionally.
- Then add the mandarin orange zest, extra virgin olive oil and agave syrup into the pot together with the gluten free corn (maize) flour mixture. The paste will thicken almost immediately once the corn (maize) flour mixture is added. Stirring frequently to avoid sticking and burning at the bottom. Cook on low heat for around 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the hot stove and lightly mash the red bean paste with a potato masher. Then let the red bean paste cool down. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. The paste will thicken further as it cools.
For preparing the dough:
- Warm the rice milk in a small pot for around 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Add in the rest of the wet ingredients, combine and mix well.
- In a large mixing bowl, add in all the dry ingredients.
- Attach the mixing bowl to an electric mixer and then attach the dough hook. Using low speed, mix the dough for about 30 seconds or until ingredients are well combined.
- Continue on low speed and gradually pour the warm rice milk mixture into the well in the large bowl for about 2 minutes.
- Then slowly add in the mandarin orange juice with mandarin orange zest added prepared in step 1 and continue to mix on low setting for another 2 minutes.
- Stop mixing and then use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.
- Mix on medium setting for another 5 minutes or until dough is well combined.
For stuffing the dough:
- Lightly grease all the muffin cups with some vegan butter.
- Scoop and place small amount of wet dough into the bottom of each cup of the muffin pan (about 1cm thick).
- Then place a 1½ tablespoons of red bean paste into the centre of each muffin cup, gently flatten the paste slightly.
- Fill each muffin cup with the rest of wet dough until nearly the edge.
- Let the dough rise for about 20 minutes.
For cooking the bun:
- Pre-heat fan-forced oven to 190C or 375F. Bake the buns for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Remove and place the cooked buns on a cooling rack.
- Reheat by covering the buns with aluminum paper and bake in the oven for 5 minutes or in microwave for 45 seconds or until buns are soft.
Disclosure Statement: I am NOT paid by Laucke Easy Bakers for this post!
8 thoughts on “Red Bean Paste Buns (Dou Sha Bao)”
Can’t seem to find these Adzuki beans in my area. Will red kidney beans work instead?
I have never tried red kidney beans for these buns before. You can try purchasing Adzuki beans (or often called red beans) from Asian groceries stores or online stores.
I use to eat these fish shaped bread stuffed with red bean paste at Korean stores. Will these taste like those at all?
In any case this looks amazing and I am going to try the second I am able!
Hi Brytanny, these gluten free red bean paste buns are slightly different from the gluten version you get at Korean stores as gluten dough is difficult to replicate with gluten free flour. But they are tasty indeed, hope you enjoy them. 🙂
Such a lovely sounding dish! I’d never thought about using adzuki beans in sweet dishes, but you’ve inspired me!
Thanks Elizabeth. Red beans or adzuki beans have been used in Asian desserts and pastries for a long time. They are very tasty and well-loved by people of all ages. 🙂
This sound great. I’d love to get some red bean paste and try them.
Thanks Kate. Red beans flavoured desserts have always been my favourite desserts since childhood. 🙂