Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Red bean soup

Red bean soup refers to a number of traditional Asian soups, all made with azuki beans.


In China, red bean soup is a popular dish. The soup is commonly thinner than the Japanese oshiruko version. It is categorized as a ''tong sui'', , or sweet soup. It is often served cold during the summer, and hot in the winter. Leftover red bean soup can also be frozen to make ice pops.

It is one of the main desserts offered after Cantonese cuisine meals in restaurants at night. When served, it is plain most of the time. The fancier restaurants may offer red bean soup with sago . The two types of sugar used interchangeably are and sliced sugar .


, or with the "o" , is a traditional dessert. It is a sweet porridge of azuki beans boiled and crushed, served in a bowl with ''''. There are different styles of ''shiruko,'' such as ''shiruko'' with chestnuts, or with glutinous rice flour dumplings instead of ''mochi.''

There are two types of ''shiruko'' based on difference of cooking way of azuki beans. Azuki beans could be turned into paste, crushed without keeping its original shape, or paste and roughly crushed beans are mixed.. According to Korean traditional folk beliefs, the color “red” is a symbolic color of positive energy which can defeat negative energy. Cooking and eating ''patjuk'' is a ritual to prevent bad luck, epidemic disease, and comes from evil spirits. Before eating the dish, Korean people used to serve it their own house shrine, they scattered it all around the house like in the kitchen, storage house, gate, yard and so on. These customs have been handed down through Chinese mythological stories. According to Hyungchosesigi, there was a man named Gong Gong. He had a bad son, and after he died he became a god of epidemic disease. Because of his cruel temper, a lot of people were killed by epidemics. Trying to find a solution to prevent infectious diseases, they recalled the fact that the son of Gong Gong hated “red bean soup” when he was alive. Thus, people made red bean soup and scattered it all around the house. And then the epidemics disappeared.

Eating ''patjuk'' is a ritual to wish for abundant harvests. Ancient Korea was an agrarian society, and a rich harvest has always been a pivotal issue for them. Koreans eat Patjuk on Donggi, when the days start becoming longer than nights. When they make Patjuk they add small dumplings which were made of rice as the same number as their age. By fully relaxing and eating nourishing health food, they wanted to have a preparation period before starting farming in the spring.

''Patjuk'' embodies a custom of conserving food. Koreans usually eat rice and side dishes. However, in the wintertime when Korean families had shortage of grains, ''patjuk'' became a complete meal itself. It could be made of simple ingredients. For example, red beans, water, small grains of rice and also it requires no need extra side dishes. Thus, when people prepare some events in winter, Patjuk is an economical food for conserving grain.


Vietnamese cuisine also has a similar dish, called ''chè ??u ??''. Particularly in southern Vietnam, it contains added coconut milk.


In Sydney, Australia as well as many other major cities in Australia, it is served as complimentary dessert along with fruit, pudding and sometimes cake and biscuits for no extra charge at most Cantonese restaurants.

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