Recipe courtesy of Andy Liang for Food Network Kitchen

Hong Dou Tang

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 9 hr 45 min (includes soaking time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
Sweet red bean soup is a dessert fixture at Chinese banquets and during the Lunar New Year, when many households also enjoy it as a light snack. It may owe part of its popularity to the fact that in Chinese culture red beans are said to provide strength because of their color (red symbolizes power) and the amount of protein they contain. The soup, which contains chewy small tapioca pearls, is typically thin. We wanted a heartier version, so developed this recipe accordingly. You can always thin it with some water, if you prefer. It’s also lightly sweetened, so feel free to add more sugar.



  1. Soak the beans in a medium bowl with enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches, for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  2. When the beans are almost ready, soak the dried tangerine peel in a small bowl with enough warm water to cover until softened, about 20 minutes. Using a spoon, scrape off as much of the white pith as possible, then finely chop the peel.  
  3. Drain the beans and transfer them to a 5-quart Dutch oven. Add 1 teaspoon of the chopped tangerine peel, the baking soda and 7 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook the beans, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until soft, about 1 hour.  
  4. Meanwhile, soak the tapioca pearls in a small bowl with enough cold water to cover until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. 
  5. When the beans are ready, strain out 1/2 cup of the cooked beans and transfer to a small bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher and then return the mashed beans to the pot. Add the drained tapioca pearls, sugar and salt. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pearls are completely clear and soft, about 15 minutes. Serve hot. 

Cook’s Note

If you can’t find adzuki beans, you can substitute dried small red beans. Dried tangerine peel, which lend a distinctive floral-citrus flavor, is usually sold in one whole piece in Asian grocery stores. Online, you can find it both whole and in strips. I used lump sugar, common in various Chinese sweet soups, because it’s slightly less sweet than granulated sugar. You can substitute regular sugar or even brown sugar, which will add a nice caramel note.