after looking at the photos of this dish, i realized it bears an uncanny resemblance to chocolate pudding. sorry for the tease. this is not chocolate pudding; it's actually aduki bean puree. but that's just as exciting, right? ;)
i was introduced to the aduki bean while studying at the Natural Gourmet cooking school. though the program has branched out from its '70s macrobiotic roots, a macro spirit continues to infuse many of the teachings - in terms of ingredients, cooking techniques, and healing modalities. aduki beans, a star of the macrobiotic kitchen, made an appearance in many dishes - soups, stews, purees, pates, and even desserts (mmm, sweet aduki bean pudding is delicious). i developed a fondness for these little red beans and have been cooking with them ever since.
like their legume brethren, aduki beans are a rich source of in fiber, protein, B vitamins, and iron. traditionally they are used to help support the kidneys and reduce excess fluid in the body. aduki beans do not require soaking, and they cook pretty quickly, in about 1 hour to 1-1/4 hours. so they don't require a lot of advance planning.
i cooked a pot of aduki beans a couple of days ago, not really sure what i would do with them, and this morning thought to puree them with fresh ginger and umeboshi. i must have been channeling my inner Annemarie Colbin (founder of NGI), because upon consulting my trusty copy of her book The Natural Gourmet, i discovered a recipe that was nearly identical to the one forming in my mind.
if you're new to umeboshi (aka ume plum), it's a stone fruit related to the apricot that is preserved in salt with shiso leaves, creating a salty-sour pickled treat. umeboshi is a standard cure-all in macrobiotics and traditional Chinese medicine for colds, flu, nausea, hangovers, and fatigue, and is also believed to aid digestion, encourage elimination of toxins, and have a beneficial alkalizing effect on the body. umeboshi can be purchased whole or as a paste. it has an intense flavor, so a little goes a long way.
(my jar of umeboshi. yogi says they look like balls of dough soaked in wine....)
i pureed the adukis along with some of their cooking liquid, fresh ginger, umeboshi, shallot, and avocado oil (i wanted a very neutral tasting oil that wouldn't hide the mild earthy flavor of the aduki beans; untoasted sesame oil would work, too, but i would avoid an assertive extra virgin olive oil here).
the ginger and tangy-salty umeboshi are the perfect complements to the earthy and mellow aduki beans. this is a delicious dip for brown rice crackers, crisp slices of fresh daikon, or any other vegetable crudites. you can also use it as a spread for sandwiches or wraps (in place of hummus); just layer on some veggies, and you've got a light meal.
aduki puree with ginger + umeboshi
Adapted from The Natural Gourmet, by Annemarie Colbin
yield: about 3 cups
the beans can be cooked up to 2 days in advance; store chilled in their cooking liquid until ready to use. the cooking time below is for unsoaked beans; soaking them for 8 to 12 hours will reduce the cooking time to about 40 minutes.
1 cup aduki beans
4 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1x1 inch square of kombu
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (peeled)
1-1/2 umeboshi, pitted and chopped (or 1 tablespoon umeboshi paste)
1/2 small shallot, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup avocado oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
combine the beans, water, salt, and kombu in a pot. bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (may take any where from 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours depending on the age of the beans).
let beans cool, remove kombu, and strain (reserving cooking liquid). transfer beans to a blender or food processor and add ginger, umeboshi, shallot, oil, and a few grinds of black pepper. process until smooth, adding some of the cooking liquid, if needed, until the puree has a dip-like consistency.