Tag: desserts



In many Asian cultures, the highest compliment you can pay a dessert is to say that “it’s not too sweet”. Enter Dorayaki, a beloved Japanese confection that’s perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth without overwhelming it. These delicious little pancake sandwiches are filled with a read more



Crema Catalana, flan, creme brulee… there’s something about a creamy custard topped with caramel that is universally irresistible. Purin is Japan’s take on the classic pairing and is incredibly popular. You can even find Purin for sale in convenience stores. It’s one of my favorite read more

Anko (sweet red bean paste)

Anko (sweet red bean paste)

Sweetened red bean paste, or Anko, is probably one of Japan’s most recognized sweet flavors. It’s used in mochi, ice cream, and pastries. It’s even delightful just spread on toast. You can find anko in Asian markets, but it’s so much better when made from scratch! With just a handful of ingredients and only a few minutes of active time, you can have your own sweet red bean paste ready to incorporate into easy Japanese inspired desserts.

Although beans in sweets may seem strange to a Western palate, they are very common in East Asia. We use all different kinds and they are typically cooked, sweetened, mashed to some degree, and then used as a filling, topping, or garnish. They have a subtle earthy flavor, creamy texture, with a sweetness that is just right. If you like desserts made with chestnuts or sweet potatoes, I would say anko is in the same family.

tsubuan ingredients

Making Anko

Sweet red bean paste is made with azuki beans. They are a small red bean grown throughout South East Asia. They have a very mild flavor with a hint of sweetness, which is why they take so well to dessert applications. There are two different kinds of red bean paste made with Azuki beans: a chunky rough one which is chock full of whole beans and then a smooth one, where all of the skins and fiber have been strained out. Anko is seen as the more casual, every day kind of sweet- the kind you plop on some ice cream, sandwich between a simple layer cake, or just spoon out of the container (ok maybe that’s just me).

Koshian, the smooth Azuki paste, has a lighter flavor and color, and is reserved for beautiful, sophisticated sweets typically purchased at a specialty store. I would equate the differences as akin to the feud between chunky and smooth peanut butter, where each has its fans.

So today, we’re making the chunky version. Turning the Azuki beans into Anko first involves softening the beans.

boil tsubuan

Then drain the beans, and again cover them with water and bring to a simmer.

lid tsubuan

The beans will need to simmer for one and a half to two hours, until they are soft enough to easily crush with your fingers.

Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the beans are shiny but still a little loose, about 10-12 minutes. The bean liquid will thicken as it cools. I like to leave just enough liquid so it cools into a thick wet mass, scoop-able and not runny. If you prefer it more wet because you plan on using it as a loose topping, cook it for 4-5 minutes instead.

Once the anko has been cooled to room temperature, it’s ready to be used. Serve it spooned on pound cake, topped on ice cream, or as a surprise filling for french toast. Top my Matcha Cake with it for a very Japanese inspired dessert. Or just sneak spoonfuls of it from the fridge-it’s a very healthy, lightly sweet snack. It keeps for about about a week in the fridge but you can also freeze it as well. I split up my batch into smaller container and freeze it all. When I feel like having some, I will either defrost it overnight in the fridge or pop it in the microwave for a couple minutes on low power.

Make some this week and see why it is such an enduring favorite. When you do, let me know what you think. Comment on the recipe below, and don’t forget to tag us in  your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!



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recipe tsubuan

Anko (sweet red bean paste)

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: makes one cup 1x
  • Category: sweets
  • Cuisine: Japanese


  • 1 cup red beans
  • 1 cup sugar
  • A couple dashes of salt
  • water 


  1. Put red beans in a pot with 4 cups of water. Let them boil for 5 minutes over medium high heat and then drain and discard the water. 
  2. Next add 4 cups of fresh water to the pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Lower the heat to medium low, partially cover the pot with a lid, and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours (add more water as needed  to keep the water level above the beans). 
  3. You can also pressure cook the beans, which takes only about 25 minutes. 
  4. The beans should now be very soft, and you should be able to easily crush a bean between your fingers. 
  5. Discard the water again and put the soft beans back in the pot with the sugar and salt. Cook the beans over medium heat, stirring regularly, for about 10-12 minutes until the beans are shiny but still a little loose. You should have bits of whole and broken beans in your anko.
  6.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer Anko to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.


*Anko will keep for a week in the fridge. It also freezes very well.

Keywords: azuki beans, sweet bean paste, desserts, sweets, japanese, vegan

Mango Sago

Mango Sago

  When I need a really fast, make ahead sweet, I reach for this Mango Sago. Especially now, when mangoes are at their peak. Even with all of the annoying squirrels racing to get their fair share, I still have plenty left to make this read more

Poached Fruit

Poached Fruit

I don’t mean to alarm you, but the holidays are right around the corner. And that means trying to come up with menus for multiple holiday dinners. I always like to serve the expected favorites, but I also like to shake things up a little read more

Halo halo

Halo halo

I love traveling: discovering new places, seeing new things, and especially eating new things. Even though exotic destinations have been put on hold, there are still plenty of fun and interesting destinations here at home. One city I visit often that always inspires me in the kitchen is Chicago. And this summer I stopped by for a quick breakfast at the cute and insta-ready Wake N’ Bacon. There are lots of creative and over the top breakfast places in Chi-Town but what drew me there was the Filipino influence on some of their menu items. And the one thing that caught my eye immediately was their Halo Halo Chia Pudding. A combination of chia pudding with colorful fruity toppings? Yup, ordering one right up.

Breakfast For Dessert

Don’t you love when breakfast can double for dessert? Such is the case with Halo halo. Halo halo means “mix-mix” and it is one of the iconic sweet dishes in the Philippines. Endlessly customizable, I modeled my chia pudding after Wake N’ Bacon’s and loaded it with fruit, coconut milk, and protein packed chia seeds. Since there’s no sugar in this chia pudding, I added a couple of sweet touches that you typically see in halo halo. Some cubes of coconut jelly and a dollop of condensed milk give it just enough sweetness that you could legitimately serve it as either breakfast or dessert. Day or night, the combination of textures and flavors will have you clamoring for more.

Plus, you will love the convenience of making it ahead and having a fresh, colorful grab and go breakfast in the fridge. Perfect for easing back into the school routine…

halo-halo ingredients

What is Halo halo?

Typically enjoyed as a dessert throughout the Philippines, this summer time treat is a playful mix of everything from shaved ice, scoops of ice cream, chunks of flan, and every variety of fruit, jellies, cereal, and sweet beans, all artfully layered in tall glasses or big bowls. It’s served with a spoon to “mix-mix” it all up.

ice cream halo-halo

For our breakfast version though we are going to forgo the ice cream, flan, and shaved ice, for a streamlined and healthier version. I opt instead for chia pudding layered with coconut jelly and fruit.

chia halo-halo

The chia seeds are so light that they have a tendency to float on top of the liquid, so you need to mix them really well, and then mix them again a few minutes later to make sure they aren’t clumping together.

chia stir halo-halo

After about 10 minutes, the chia pudding should have thickened, and it will thicken more as it chills. While the chia seeds are busy absorbing the liquid, I prep the fruit.

hull halo-halo

coco jelly halo-halo

Pour the chia pudding on top of the berries. Then top with more fruit and chill for a couple of hours.

pudding halo-halo

finish halo halo

milk halo-halo

A few things: if you are making these the day before, leave the cereal topping off until right before serving so they are the right crunchy texture. You can also make these in storage containers to pack in the fridge and take on the go. They last a couple of days but no more than that or the fresh fruit will not be so fresh.

If you want to make these dairy free/vegan, you can omit the condensed milk. There is canned condensed coconut milk you can use instead. And if you are a thief of joy and want to use a healthier cereal than Fruity Pebbles, go for it, but Fruity Pebbles add the perfect crunch and pop of color. Nothing turns that first day of school frown upside down faster.

halo halo recipe card

I hope you love this breakfast treat as much as we do. If you make it, let us know. Leave a comment or rate the recipe below. And let’s see those beautiful Halo halos-tag us @funkyasiankitchen.

halo-halo beauty



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halo halo recipe card

Halo Halo

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: breakfast
  • Cuisine: Filipino


  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut cream or milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • ½ cup condensed milk
  • 1 cup strawberries 
  • 1 cup blueberries 
  • 1 cup nate de coco (coconut jelly)*
  • 8 tablespoons fruity pebbles or other crunchy cereal


  1. In a medium bowl or tall mixing glass, mix together the chia seeds, water, and coconut milk. The chia seeds are very light so you need to mix well. After a couple of minutes, mix again to make sure all of the chia is soaking in the coconut milk and there are no pockets of dry grains.
  2. Let the chia seeds continue absorbing the liquid and thickening, about 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, prep the fruit:
  4. Wash the strawberries. Next cut off the stems of the strawberries and cut into quarters. Set aside.
  5. Wash the blueberries and set aside.
  6. Use 4 clear wine glasses or small clear bowls for your puddings. At the bottom of each cup put 2 tablespoons each of the nate de coco, chopped strawberries, and blueberries. 
  7. Evenly pour the chia pudding on top of the fruit in the four glasses. Next top each pudding with 2 tablespoons of nate de coco, strawberries, and blueberries.
  8. Cover the chia pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  9. When ready to serve, pour a couple of tablespoons of condensed milk on top of the pudding and top with the fruity pebbles. 
  10. Then mix-mix (halo halo) and enjoy.


*Nato de coco, little cubes of coconut jelly, can be found in Asian markets. You can also use any of the flavored ones used for bubble tea.

*This pudding chills up firm. If you prefer a looser, softer pudding, increase the water to 1 cup.

Keywords: halo halo, chia, chia pudding, healthy breakfast, filipino food