Monday, August 9, 2010

Chinese Red Bean Pastries

If you’ve ever been to Chinatown or are acquainted with Chinese cuisine, you’ll know that red bean paste is a prevalent element in Chinese desserts. Sweet bean paste is called Dou Sha in Chinese- Dou meaning bean and Sha meaning sand. The deep red color and dense texture might turn some people off, but then again, chocolate and coke don’t exactly look that enticing either. Red bean paste is actually quite delicious. I know that as a Chinese, I am biased (or at least my taste buds are), but what is there not to like about it? It’s simply mashed up red beans and sugar. In fact, I would consider it one of those famous food combinations. You know, like peanut butter and jelly, or strawberries and cream.

You can be creative with red bean paste and put it in many things like soup, bread, rice, and even pancakes. I decided to make some pastries with the supply that I made (you can also buy it in most Asian grocery stores). My mom’s colleague Mei came over and showed me how to make these pastries that she brought one time to a dinner party.
These dainty lil things are considered mooncakes in Taiwan, but as a Beijing-er, real mooncakes for me are the rich, dense cakes with a thin skin.

Making the pastry is the toughest part of the recipe. It’s very time consuming, but can be fun and relaxing if you put on some music and is totally worth it when you see the layers start to form as the two different doughs separate with heat. These pastries are delicate and so pretty, and are simply perfect for tea parties. Have one with a cup of green tea for an authentic Chinese treat.


Water dough
150g plain flour
50g oil
25g sugar
40g water

Oil dough
100g plain flour
40g oil

1 cup sweet red bean paste
1 egg yolk
Sesame seeds


1. Preheat the oven to 395 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the water dough. Mix and then kneed until the dough comes together. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
3. In another bowl, combine all the ingredients for the oil dough. Mix well until the oil and flour come together. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
4. Divide the water dough and oil dough each into 18 pieces so that you have 36 balls of dough.
5. Take one ball of the water dough and roll it out into a circle with a diameter of roughly 10cm. Put a round of oil dough into the center and enclose it with the water dough.
6. Push down on the resulting ball so that you have a flat circle. Using a rolling pin, roll the circle into an oval.
7. Using your hands, roll up the dough from one side like you would roll a Swiss roll. Turn the roll so that the longer length is perpendicular to your body.
8. Flatten the dough and roll it into an oblong again.
9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 three times. You should be able to see layers already starting to form.
10. Roll your final dough into a flat circle with a diameter of roughly 12cm. Put one tablespoon of red bean paste in the center and fold up the edges.
11. Shape the ball with your hands so that you have a slightly flattened ball. Repeat steps 5 through 9 until you have used up all the dough.
12. Put the pastries on a greased oven tray. Carefully brush the tops with egg yolk and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
13. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown and flaky.

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