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Adzuki Beans in Orange Sauce

Brighten up a winter day with smallish, slightly sweet adzuki beans in zingy orange sauce. This thrifty recipe uses the zest and juice of organic oranges. Adzuki beans cook faster than kidney beans. They originally came from China, Japan, or India more than a thousand years ago, where are often used in cakes or other confections. My sister-in-law enjoyed a birthday cake made for her in Japan that had red beans between the layers. When she asked her hosts about the cake, they said of course it had red beans, it was a birthday cake!

adzuki beans in fresh orange sauce with an orange wedge

Adzuki Beans with Orange Sauce

Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 2 hours, 10 minutes. Serves 10


adzuki beans

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound adzuki beans
  • 1 onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 carrot
  • 6 cups water

orange sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 onion
  • 2 teaspoons sesame, peanut, or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne
  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage (240 grams)
  • 2 oranges, zest and juice
  • 1 orange (optional) for garnish


  1. Mince 2 cloves garlic and set aside. Sort and rinse adzuki beans as described in the Basic Beans recipe. Chop onion and cut carrot into 1/4 inch wide moons. Put garlic, beans, onion, salt, carrot and water into a medium pot. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low so bean mixture barely boils. Cook until beans are tender, about two hours, then make sauce.

    dry adzuki beans are small red beans with a distinctive white stripe

  2. When beans are almost tender, make sauce. Mince remaining garlic and set aside. Grate ginger and chop onion.

  3. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, ginger, and chipotle and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add onions, stir, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Shred cabbage and stir into onion mixture.

    sliced fresh cabbage with knife on cutting board

  5. Zest each orange right on into the cooking vegetables, then juice it and add juice to vegetables

    using fresh orange juice and orange zest for makes adzuki beans with orange sauce a thrifty meal

  6. Test cabbage to see if it's tender. If needed, cover and simmer for a few minutes. Drain adzuki beans. Pour sauce onto beans and stir to mix.
  7. Serve hot over rice, garnished with an orange wedge if desired. Refrigerate extra for up to four days or freeze for up a year.


  • Instead of buying a bottle of specialty sesame or peanut oil, pour oil off the top of a freshly opened jar of tahini or peanut butter.
  • For a fancier presentation, serve beans and sauce unmixed, so each serving has a layer of rice, beans, and sauce. This looks particularly nice with a orange wedge on the side.
  • Variation: replace cabbage with two bell peppers, sliced thin and cut in bite-sized pieces.

Reader Comments (3)

This was an interesting recipe that is a nice, fresh switch in flavors from the typical winter bean dishes. I expected much more sweetness from the beans because I had only tried those in Japanese sweet bean cookies in Japan. They were much better in this recipe. I found them at an Japanese grocery store. This dish could work well in the warmer months also.

Feb 18, 2012 | Registered Commenterwearyma

Thanks so much, Wearyma! I tried them wrapped in a flour tortilla, topped with chipotle tomato sauce, and they were surprisingly good that way too. East meets West!
... Linda

Feb 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson

Last night, this recipe was a big hit at my book club's annual holiday potluck dinner .It was a big hit! Many raved about the flavor and some were also glad to have a low-fat, gluten-free, and vegan dish to help balance the more lush offerings.

I made the beans in a slow cooker, drained them, and stirred in the sauce plus about a cup and a half of cooked brown basmati rice to soak up the delectable sauce. I sliced the garnish orange into thin slices and then quarters and arranged them along the edges on top of the bean-and-rice mixture. I used just 1/4 teaspoon of peanut oil taken from the top of new, unmixed jar of peanut butter.

Dec 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson
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