Chia Seed Pudding With Japanese Sweet Red Beans (Tsubuan)

Chia Seed Pudding with Japanese Sweet Red Beans (Tsubuan). © Hideki Ueha
  • Total: 6 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 6 hrs
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 4

Easily transform a Western dessert of chia seed pudding into a Japanese dessert by simply adding sweet red beans, which is a staple in traditional Japanese foods.

Chia seed pudding requires no cooking, but merely the patience to allow it to set in the refrigerator for a few hours, or overnight. The ingredients required are simple: milk or any milk substitute (soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk), sugar, vanilla extract, and chia seeds. While optional, the addition of coconut milk adds a rich creamy flavor profile to the dessert which is truly irresistible.


  • For the Parfait:
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons alcohol-free vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or more to taste
  • 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, rough chopped
  • 1 ½ cups fresh raspberriesTsubuan (coarse sweet red bean paste)
  • Whip cream (pre-made), optional topping
  • Cookies (store-bought), optional topping
  • For the Tsubuan:
  • 1 cup azuki beans (small red beans)
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 - 5 cups water, or more as needed

Steps to Make It

  1. Prepare the chia seed pudding.

  2. In a medium size re-sealable plastic container, combine chia seeds, coconut milk, vanilla soy milk, alcohol-free vanilla extract and sugar.

  3. Gently incorporate all ingredients with a spatula, breaking apart any clumps of seeds to create a smooth mixture. Secure lid and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Chia seeds will “puff up,” and the longer the mixture rests, the thicker the pudding will become.

  4. Prepare the tsubuan (coarse Japanese sweet red beans). Note, tsubuan may be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a few days.

  5. In a large bowl, soak azuki beans in water overnight. The beans will expand, and some may split. Rinse the beans, transfer to a medium pot, add water, and bring to a boil.

  6. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes; skim foam, discard and repeat until broth is clear of foam.

  7. Reduce heat to low and simmer the azuki beans for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until soft. Stir occasionally to make sure that the beans don't stick to the pot and burn. Add water if necessary as the liquid evaporates.

  8. Once the beans are soft, add sugar and salt and constantly stir until sugar dissolves (about 3 – 5 minutes). Gently smash the azuki beans into a chunky paste, leaving some of the beans intact for texture. If the tsubuan is slightly watery in nature, as it cools, the beans will absorb the liquid, creating a thick paste. Once cooled, store tsubuan in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  9. Assemble the pudding.

  10. Chop fresh strawberries and set aside. If the strawberries are tart, a touch of granulated sugar may be tossed with the cut strawberries. Wash and drain fresh rasberries, then set aside.

  11. In a mini 4” tall dessert glass, layer vanilla chia pudding, top with fresh fruit, add another layer of vanilla chia pudding, then top with a scoop of tsubuan, whip cream, and more fresh berries. Optional: add pre-made cookies.

  12. Serve immediately.

Note: When time is limited, tsubuan may be purchased pre-made at most Asian markets, but the sweetness cannot be controlled it can when it is homemade.

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