Also known as navy beans, there are several varieties of shiro-ingen-mame in Japan. They are daifuku mame, fuku siro kinntoki mame, tebou mame, etc. The only thing that differentiates these beans from one another is their size, but they are all suitable for making a white bean paste known as shiro-an. When stewed and mixed with sugar, these beans give a wonderfully smooth paste, which would then be used as filling for traditional Japanese sweets and confectionery such as wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets). Green, pink or yellow colouring may be added to make the paste look more attractive.


The beans from this family are prized for their health benefits. They are known to contain more fibre than azuki beans and help lower total cholesterol levels. However, they need to prepared properly, as the lectin in the beans may be poisonous if they are not cooked well. First, the beans need to be soaked overnight so their outer layers can be easily removed. After they’ve been hulled, place the beans in a saucepan with water and cook until the beans become soft. Next, drain the water, and turn the beans into a paste using a hand-held electric mixer or food processor. Finally, add sugar and a bit of salt and stir the mixture over low heat until it thickens. The texture of the paste will become firmer when it’s cool.