5 Popular Japanese Sweets with “Anko” Red Bean Paste
Beans are a crucial ingredient in Japanese cuisine. For example, the 2 seasonings that represent Japan, miso and Shoyu, or soy sauce, are made from soybeans.
Meanwhile, in Wagashi, “Anko (餡子)” or sweetened Azuki red bean paste makes up an indispensable part.
The sweet red bean paste Anko is roughly divided into two types; one is called “Koshian (こしあん)” with a smooth texture, while the other is a chunky coarse paste called “Tsubuan (つぶあん)”.
Popular Japanese Wagashi Sweets with Anko
There are many varieties of Wagashi confections made with Anko, out of which today I will introduce 5 most loved sweets for those who have never tried the bean paste.
First, Yokan (羊羹) is a traditional Japanese sweet made by solidifying smooth Anko red bean paste with agar or “Kanten (寒天)”.
There are 4 major types of Yokan, and the most common variety is “Neri Yokan (練り羊羹)”.
Neri Yokan has a texture like firm tofu featuring a gentle, refined sweetness from Anko.
Dorayaki (どら焼き) is a traditional Japanese confection known as Doraemon’s yummy buns.
It is made from Anko paste sandwiched between 2 round baked pancakes. Since the dough of this cake contains honey, it holds moderate moisture.
Oshiruko (おしるこ) is a traditional Japanese soup made from Azuki red beans simmered in water, sweetened with sugar.
Oshiruko is a long-time favorite winter dish, often served with “Mochi (餅)” rice cakes.
Manju (饅頭) is a traditional Japanese steamed bun filled with Anko paste. It comes in many types and flavors, and the most common variety is “Cha Manju (茶饅頭)”.
The dough is made with wheat flour, brown sugar, and baking soda or baking powder. This pastry is soft and fluffy and matches perfectly with its Anko filling.
Daifuku (大福) is a small round cake consisting of sweet red bean paste wrapped in a thin layer of soft Mochi.
This treat is also available in various types, and the most popular variety is “Ichigo Daifuku (苺大福)” with a strawberry-Anko filling.