Danpatjuk (Korean Sweet Red Bean Soup)
Danpatjuk is a warm, Korean sweet red bean soup typically enjoyed as a dessert. Known also as sweet red bean porridge due to its thick texture, this mildly sweet delicacy is especially comforting and popular during the winter months.
Danpatjuk is a cozy Korean sweet red bean soup, perfect for chilly winter days. It’s a simple, not-too-sweet dessert made with red beans (also known as azuki beans) that’s full of rich flavor.
While the recipe is straightforward, it does take a bit of simmering time. This warm, comforting soup is a favorite during the colder months and is sure to be a delicious addition to your winter recipes!
Red Beans (Pat) in Asian Cooking
Red beans, known as ‘Pat’ in Korean and ‘adzuki beans’ in Japan, are popular in Asian desserts. These small, reddish beans are healthy, rich in protein, fiber, and essential minerals.
Red beans are a versatile ingredient in Asian cooking. They feature prominently in sweet dishes like Japanese mochi, dorayaki, and anko, a sweet paste. In China, these beans are a key component of mooncakes.
In Korean cuisine, red beans are used in both sweet and savory dishes. They’re a favorite topping for summer’s patbingsu, a shaved ice dessert, and are included in steamed rice cakes and bungeoppang, a fish-shaped pastry, in colder months.
Red beans also add flavor and nutrition to savory rice dishes like patbap (red bean rice), japgokbap (multigrain rice), and ogokbap (five-grain rice).
Patjuk is a traditional Korean porridge made with red azuki beans. It comes in two main types: savory and sweet.
Savory patjuk is a filling main meal, often eaten with sides like kimchi. Made with short grain rice, it’s a winter favorite, especially on the winter solstice (dongji). It includes glutinous rice balls called ‘Saelsim’ (새알심), a tradition believed to protect against evil spirits.
Danpatjuk, the sweet variety, primarily incorporates red beans sweetened with honey or sugar. It’s often added with injeolmi (sweet rice cakes) or nuts, and is more of a dessert than a meal.
You can make it as thin as soup or as thick as porridge. This recipe gives you a danpatjuk that’s slightly thick and coarse, similar to what you’d find in Korean dessert shops.
- Red beans (Azuki beans): Azuki beans are essential for their distinctive taste and texture.
- Sweet rice flour: Used to thicken the soup, it helps achieve the perfect consistency, whether you prefer it more like a soup or a thicker porridge.
- Salt: A pinch of salt enhances the overall flavor profile, balancing the sweetness.
- Sugar or Honey: To sweeten the dish, you can adjust the amount according to your taste preference.
- Ground cinnamon: A hint of cinnamon adds a subtle warmth and depth to the dish, complementing the sweet red beans.
- Garnish (optional): Injeolmi (sweet rice cake) and nuts like walnuts, pine nuts, or chestnuts add texture and richness. You can choose your favorite nuts or a combination to top off.
How to make Danpatjuk (Korean sweet Red Bean Soup)
Preparation of Red Beans
Rinse the red beans thoroughly and place them in a large pot, covering them with plenty of water.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 10 minutes.
Drain and discard the water, then return the beans to the pot.
Cook’s note: It’s important to first boil the red beans briefly and throw away that water before you keep cooking them. This step gets rid of unwanted stuff and breaks down an enzyme called phytohaemagglutinin, which is in many beans and can upset your stomach if not cooked enough. Boiling and then getting rid of the water makes the beans safer and easier to digest.
Cooking the red bean soup
Add 8 cups of water to the beans in the pot and bring them to a boil again. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, and then 50 minutes over low heat.
Add more water if needed to keep the beans covered. Cook the beans until they become tender enough to press easily with your finger.
Remove the pot from the heat. Mash the beans with a potato masher to your desired consistency.
For a coarser, thinner soup, leave some bean chunks unmashed. For a smoother porridge, use an immersion blender to puree the beans in the pot completely.
Return the pot to low heat. Add sugar or honey (or mixture of both), 1 teaspoon of salt, and ground cinnamon. Stir well. Adjust the sugar amount according to your taste preferences.
In a small bowl, mix sweet rice flour with water to create a slurry. Gradually add this mixture to the pot, stirring continuously, until you achieve your desired thickness.
Garnish the soup or porridge with injeolmi and nuts, if desired. Serve warm and enjoy!
- Injeolmi (Quick Korean Rice Cake Dessert)
- Red Bean Rice Cake
- Homemade Patbingsu (Korean Shaved Milky Ice)
- Korean Candied Sweet Potato (Goguma Mattang)
Danpatjuk (Korean Sweet Red Bean Soup)
- 10 oz (300 g) small red beans, azuki beans
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 8 cups (2 liter) water
- 4-6 tbsp sugar, or honey (or mix of both)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- salt, to taste
Sweet rice flour slurry
- 2 tbsp sweet rice flour
- 1/2 cup water
- injeolmi, walnut, almond, or pine nut, chop into small pieces
- Start by rinsing the red beans thoroughly and placing them in a large pot. Cover them with plenty of water, add a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. After boiling for 10 minutes, drain and discard the water, then put the beans back in the pot.
- Next, add 8 cups of water to the beans and bring them to a boil again. Cover and simmer the beans over medium heat for 30 minutes. Then reduce to low heat and simmer for another 50 minutes, adding more water if necessary to keep the beans covered. Cook until the beans are tender enough to be easily pressed with your finger.
- Once cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Mash the beans with a potato masher to your desired consistency; leave some chunks for a coarser soup or blend with an immersion blender for a smooth porridge.
- Put the pot back on low heat. Add your choice of sugar or honey (or a mix of both), another teaspoon of salt, and ground cinnamon. Stir everything well and adjust the sugar to your taste.
- To thicken the soup, mix sweet rice flour with water in a separate bowl to create a slurry. Gradually add this mixture to the pot, stirring continuously, until you achieve the thickness you want.
- When serving, garnish the soup or porridge with injeolmi and nuts if you like. Serve it warm and enjoy!