Azuki bean porridge, Pat Juk, is a traditional staple of Korean cuisine, eaten year round at all times of day. The sweet variety, Dan Pat Juk, is prepared and shared with neighbors and friends on "Little New Year's Day" which takes place on the winter solstice. The reddish color of the porridge is meant to ward off evil spirits, and as in many cultures, eating sweet foods expresses the hope of a sweet year to come.
Savory or sweet, Azuki porridge is a nutritious, delicious and energizing comfort food which is simple to make from scratch. This interpretation of Dan Pat Juk requires few ingredients and minimal preparation; the only real labor involved is the short time it takes to blend the cooked beans into a smooth porridge. Traditional Korean recipes call for rock sugar as the sweetener; I've substituted medjul dates. For a sweeter dish, maple syrup may be added to taste.
2.5 cups azuki beans, soaked for 6- 8 hours*
4-5 large medjul dates, pitted and sliced in half
sea salt to taste
maple syrup to taste (optional)
mint leaves for garnish
pine nuts for garnish
Pour beans and soaking water into a colander to drain.
Rinse beans thoroughly in running water.
Place beans in a heavy bottomed pot.
Add enough fresh water to cover beans by about two inches.
Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over a medium- low flame for about one hour.
Stir beans periodically, adding more water if they are not covered by liquid.
Beans are done when one is easily mashed between thumb and forefinger.
Remove pot from heat, stir in dates, cover and allow to rest until cool enough to blend.
Blend beans in batches in blender, adding cooking liquid or small amounts of fresh water as needed, until porridge is velvety smooth.
Return porridge to pot, reheat gently and add sea salt to taste.
About one tablespoon of maple syrup may be added if desired.
Serve dan pat juk in small pre-warmed ceramic bowls.
Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a sprinkling of pine nuts.
Store remaining porridge in glass jars in fridge for up to five days.
Reheat thoroughly for a quick, warming and energizing meal.
*A note about soaking legumes: Soaking legumes is not a complicated affair but it deters many people from cooking them because it involves some planning. Simply soaking beans overnight is an easy option, or put them in to soak early in the morning. If you've soaked beans for several hours but must postpone cooking, drain the beans, add fresh water to cover and store in the fridge for up to another day.