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Danpatjuk (sweet red bean porridge)

This velvety smooth sweet red bean porridge is a great snack or dessert on a cold winter day. To make the porridge, the beans are cooked down until very soft. Then, the cooks traditionally mash the beans through a strainer to remove the skins to achieve a velvety texture. This process can be grueling, so you can use a shortcut. Puree the beans as fine as possible in a blender. It’s much easier, still results in a very smooth porridge and you don’t waste the nutritious bean skins. 

This porridge is served with sweet rice cake balls called saealsim, meaning bird eggs. They are easy to make with sweet rice powder/flour. You can also top it with pine nuts, boiled chestnuts, and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder, but they are optional. This recipe yields a lightly sweetened porridge. Add more sugar or honey to your taste.

Serves 4

For the porridge:

● 1 cup dried red beans, pat (aka adjuki beans)

● 1 tablespoon chapssal garu, sweet rice powder

● 2 tablespoons sugar (or light brown sugar)

● 1 tablespoon honey (or sugar) - add more to taste

● 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the rice cake balls:

● 1/2 cup chapssal garu, sweet rice powder

● 2 teaspoons sugar

● pinch of salt

● 4 tablespoons boiling hot water

Optional garnish:

● 1 tablespoon pine nuts

● 4 to 6 boiled chestnuts

● 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

For the porridge:

Discard broken or rotten beans and rinse the beans. In a large pot, add the beans with 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the beans.

Return the beans to the pot with 4 cups of fresh water. Cover, and simmer over medium-low heat until the beans are very soft and easily breakable, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Turn off the heat, and let the beans cool in the cooking liquid.

Puree the beans along with the cooking liquid until velvety smooth. You may need to do this step in two batches. Add some water if the bean puree gets too thick.

Return the bean puree to the pot. Mix one tablespoon of the sweet rice powder in 1/2 cup of water, and pour into the pot. Stir in the salt, sugar and honey.

Simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Adjust the thickness of the porridge by adding more water if necessary.

For the rice cake balls:

Mix the rice powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir in the boiling hot water with a spoon. When cool enough to handle, knead by hand until a dough is formed. Shape the dough into a 2-centimeter thick cylinder.

Cut into (or pinch off) 2-centimeter pieces. Roll each piece between the palms to make a small ball.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the rice cake balls. Cook until all the balls float. Transfer to a large bowl with cold water to cool. Drain.

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By Ro Hyo-sun