Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The azuki bean (also spelled adzuki) is an annual vine widely grown throughout northeast Asia and the Himalaya for its small (approximately 5mm) bean . The cultivars most familiar in northeast Asia have a uniform red color, but white, black, gray and variously mottled varieties are also known.
Genetic evidence indicates that the azuki bean was first domesticated in the Himalaya. It was cultivated in China and Korea before 1000 BC. It was was later taken to Japan, where it is now the second most popular legume after the soybean.
The Japanese name derives from the Chinese name (小豆; xiǎodòu), which is still used in botanical or agricultural parlance. However in everyday Chinese, the adzuki is called hongdou (红豆; hóngdòu), meaning "red bean", because almost all Chinese cultivars are uniformly red. In English-language discussions of Chinese topics, the term "red bean" is often used (especially in reference to red bean paste), but in other contexts this usage can cause confusion with other beans that are also red.
In Chinese cuisine, Korean cuisine and Japanese cuisine, the azuki bean is almost always eaten moderately sweetened. In particular, it is often boiled with sugar, resulting in red bean paste or an, a very common ingredient of desserts in all three cuisines. A more liquid version, using azuki beans boiled with sugar, lotus seeds and orange peel, produces a dessert called red bean soup. Azuki beans are also commonly eaten sprouted, or boiled in a hot, tea-like drink.
- Illustrated Plant Genetic Resources Database
- Multilingual taxonomic information from the University of Melbourne
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