Monday, December 15, 2014

Danpatjuk - Korean Sweet Red Bean Porridge

Time flies and it is gonna be Dongzhi Festival (or Winter Solstice Festival), the time of making and eating tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) again.

Dongzhi is an important festival widely celebrated by Chinese and it is the time where families gather to eat tangyuan. Do you know that in Chinese culture, Dongzhi is also the day where everyone becomes one year older?  Sad for me because I am gonna be another year older :P

Interestingly, Koreans also celebrate this Chinese festival by eating tangyuan, of which these glutinous rice balls are cooked in strained red bean soup.  In the olden days, Korean placed bowls of these sweet red bean porridge (danpatjuk) around their houses. Some red bean porridge were even applied to door of the houses, of which was done to chase away any evil spirits. After the ritual done, they will enjoy the danpatjuk.

I cooked a pot and brought some back to Mum's place to share with my family

I remember how I used to help my grandma and mother roll out the dough into small balls. I love eating them too. Since I have always ate tangyuans cooked in sweet ginger soup, I decided to try making the Korean Sweet Red Bean Porridge this time.

I gotta say I enjoyed the cooking process as well as eating it. I love how the sweet red bean compensate for the bland taste of the glutinous rice balls. You may eat this as a dessert or as a meal because it can be quite filling to the tummy.

Danpatjuk - Korean Sweet Red Bean Porridge
(Recipe adapted from Crazy Korean Cooking
Serves 3 to 4

For Pre-cooking red beans
240g red beans
480ml water - to be discarded after

For the Soup
1680ml water (only some may be used after boiling beans)
60g sugar
2g salt
1g Cinnamon powder (optional)

For sweet rice balls
240g sweet rice (Glutinous rice powder)
90ml water (boiling hot)
1g salt
5g pine nuts (optional garnish) - I did not add them

1. Wash red beans
Wash 1 cup of red beans 2-3 times. Do not rub them too hard or too long. Drain water in a strainer.

2. Precook red beans
Place washed red beans in a pot and pour 2 cups of water. Bring it to boil then keep boiling on high heat for 5 minutes or until the water turns red.

3. Drain water
Drain water out in a strainer. Throw away the water and keep the red beans.

4. Boil red beans
Place precooked red beans in a pot and add 7 cups of water. Boil on high heat. When the water starts to boil, adjust the heat to low heat and keep boiling uncovered for more than 60 minutes or until the red beans become soft and mushy.

5. Make dough
While red beans are being cooked, make sweet rice balls. Mix ¼ teaspoon of salt into 6 tablespoons of boiling water. Mix 1 cup of sweet rice powder and the salt water. Start kneading with a spoon for a couple of minutes to avoid burning your hands.

6. Knead dough
Then, knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes or until it becomes soft. It may seem like there is not enough water but the dough only comes together when you knead by hand diligently for a while. Add a bit more water only if the dough doesn’t come together after kneading for more than 5 min.

7. Make balls
Make the dough into bite-sized balls (about ¾” or 2 cm in diameter).

I think my right arm got slightly toned from getting the red bean through the strainer :P

8. Strain red beans
Pour the red beans with the boiled water through a strainer (or a sieve) into a bowl. Remember to keep the water.

9. Grind red beans (Optional) - I skipped this step and put the cooked red beans through the strainer)
Grind red beans with an electric grinder. If you don’t have an electric grinder, you can skip to the next step. It will just take longer and may be strenuous on your hand.

10. Mash red beans
Place the strainer with the ground red beans over a bowl. Then, mash them with a spatula so the soft part (red bean paste) of the red bean is going through the strainer into the bowl and only the husks (skins) are left in the strainer.

11. Grind red beans
Scrape off any red bean paste stuck at the bottoms of the strainer. Throw away the husks and keep the red bean paste (the water and the mashed red beans). This will yield about 3 cups of red bean paste.

12. Boil red beans paste
Put the red bean paste from the previous step in a pot and add the same amount of the water the red beans were boiled in. If 3 cups of bean paste were yielded, add 3 cups of the red bean boiled water. (red bean paste:red bean boiled water=1:1) Mix them well and boil on medium heat. When it starts to boil, add the sweet rice balls and boil for another 5-10 minutes or until the balls are fully cooked (they will float to the surface). Stir frequently. Be careful as the soup may splash when boiling! If the soup becomes too thick, add more water.

13. Finish
Turn off the heat. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and 4-8 tablespoons of sugar (more or less depending on your taste and whether you are serving it as a meal or dessert). The amounts are for 3 cups of red bean paste. If you have less, you will have to reduce the amount of salt and sugar. Taste and add gradually. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder (optional).

14. Serve
Serve in a bowl and top with a few pine nuts or crushed walnuts (optional). Enjoy!

How to store Sweet Red Bean Porridge
Both cooked red beans and sweet rice balls are easily spoiled.  Refrigerate as soon as it cools down if not eaten right away.
It may keep in the fridge for a couple of days.  If you want to store it longer, seal tightly and freeze it.  Then slowly thaw in the fridge or in the microwave on defrost mode.


  1. Janice, it is interesting that the Koreans celebrate the winter solstice festival. Equally interesting is that their tangyuan is cooked in red bean soup! Must be very nice. Oh dear, I don't think I have the arm strength to push the cooked beans through the strainer hah..hah...

  2. Yes Phong Hong, I was pleasantly surprised to know Koreans celebrate this festival. I am not really into eating red beans but glad I made this because the tangyuan taste so good in the red bean paste. Too bad it's taxing to the arm, else I would do this again soon :P


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