One main ingredients in traditional Wagashi/Japanese Cakes is “anko” (or more simply “an”) which can be translated as “sweetmeats” or “bean jam”.
I would like here to introduce a simple way to make one’s own “anko” at home:
Azuki/Adzuki/red beans (in Japanese: 小豆): 150 g
Salt: a little
a) Wash azuki lightly. Put in a large basin with an equal amount of water and turn on heat to high.
b) Bring to boil. If beans level is higher that of water, add water till beans are completely covered. Let simmer. Add water 2 or 3 times as soon as the water does not cover completely the beans and this until beans stop floating on water.
c) Drain beans, put them back into basin with same amount of water and turno fire to high. Repeat a9 operation.
d) Cook as c) fro 40~60 minutes.
e) Mash azuki beans lightly. Add sugar. Simmer and stir to mix, making sure the jam does not overboil.
f) Add a little salt (to your taste) and mix.
Let cool completely.
You can eat as it is of course, but you will need it to make your cakes!
You can either sieve it to make it a very fine paste, sieve a part and mix it with the unsieved part, or use it as it is. In any case it will be easy to fashion!