Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What the Hell is an Adzuki Bean??

First of all, it's pronounced "ah-ZOO-kee," not "ad-ZOO-kee." Ok?

These are tiny little puppies that, according to the official adzuki bean website (who knew??), are very popular in Japanese cuisine. They are also apparently a staple of macrobiotic cooking, being "the most yang of beans."

I had no idea what that meant, so I looked it up. After an extensive search (and by extensive, I mean about 5 minutes clicking through Google), I learned that "yang" is associated with masculine, contractive, hot energy. You want to balance yang with yin (which would be the opposite of yang) for optimal health.

Got it? Alrighty then. Let's get cooking.

I've been tempted to make Creamy Adzuki Beans (yes! I'm posting the recipe!) for awhile, just because the *picture from the book looks so friggin' awesome, as you can see below.

Also, one of the cool things about this recipe is that you don't have to soak the beans ahead of time...very helpful for those of us who have a hard time doing difficult preparative work, like putting beans in water and letting them sit overnight.

The ingredients are also fairly simple to start with: adzuki beans (duh) onion, cumin, diced tomatoes, coconut milk, and the magic ingredient, kombu.


Kombu. The golden ticket of vegans, basically, a type of dried seaweed that brings out the flavor of food, adds nutrients, and...improves the digestibility of beans. Confused about that last part? Just think to yourself, "Beans, beans, the magical fruit..." and you'll get the idea.

So. I loaded the aforementioned ingredients and a 3-in. piece of kombu into my pressure cooker (my adventures with the pressure cooker might warrant its own blog post) and heated it up. Once the top started spinning, I let it cook for about 30 minutes, but when the pressure released, it was clear that my beans weren't done. I'm still trying to figure out the pressure cooker thing, so this was likely a user error. I closed the lid, heated the pot again, and cooked for another 10 minutes once the top started spinning. And, voilĂ —perfect beans. I dumped in the rest of the ingredients: lemon juice, garlic, peanut butter (!), and salt, put a tiny dollop of vegan sour cream on top, and garnished with cilantro. Nom.

As it so happens, I also treated myself to a carton of gorgeous organic strawberries today, as a reward for not buying a coffee and pastry this morning when I went to my neighborhood coffee shop.

Why is it that I don't think twice about dropping $5 on a latte and cinnamon roll, but balk at the idea of paying $5 for healthy, not-covered-in-pesticides produce? They were beautiful, no comparison in color to the pale, non-organic strawberries, and the flavor was amazing as well.

So, in order to best utilize my strawberry prize, I decided to serve Spinach–Strawberry Salad—one of my absolute F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E-S from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth—alongside the adzuki beans.

And here is the finished product. Sweet, holy deliciousness. I imagine a nice slice of whole grain bread would go really, really well with this, as would some brown rice.

For dessert, I had—you guessed it—a vegan organic dark chocolate truffle filled with crystallized ginger and raw cacao nibs, rolled in raw cacao powder. Those really deserve their own blog post, too. Stay tuned. =)

*Photo of adzuki bean dish by Michelle McCluggage; appears in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth.

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