Wagashi Sweets: Neri Yokan, Mizu Yokan, Mushi Yokan
“Yokan (羊羹)” is a traditional Japanese confection or Wagashi with a long history. It is a simple jelly dessert made basically with sweetened Azuki red bean paste, water, and agar called “Kanten (寒天)”.
In the making process, Kanten or agar is used to make the mixture of the sweet red bean paste “Anko (餡子)” and water into jelly.
Generally speaking, when we Japanese just say “Yokan”, that refers to the most common type of Yokan, “Neri Yokan (練り羊羹)”.
Types: Neri Yokan vs Mizu Yokan vs Mushi Yokan
In addition to Neri Yokan, there are actually another 2 common varieties of Yokan sweets in Wagashi, that is, “Mizu Yokan (水羊羹)” and “Mushi Yokan (蒸し羊羹)”.
Today for those who don’t know much about these Japanese jelly desserts, here I will explain how the 3 types of Yokan are different from one another.
Neri Yokan vs Mizu Yokan
As I wrote above, the regular Yokan, Neri Yokan is made by jellying the mixture of Anko paste and water with Kanten agar, and this basic method also applies to Mizu Yokan.
However, as the word “Mizu (水)” means water in Japanese, the ratio of water to Kanten in Mizu Yokan is large compared to that of Neri Yokan, which gives Mizu Yokan a jiggly jelly-like texture with a fresh cool appearance that is perfect for summer.
Neri Yokan vs Mushi Yokan
Kuri Mushi Yokan
Meanwhile, regarding the difference between Neri Yokan and Mushi Yokan, although Neri Yokan is jellied with Kanten agar, Mushi Yokan is made by steaming a mixture of sweet Azuki red bean paste, water, and wheat flour or Kudzu arrowroot powder, without using Kanten, as “Mushi (蒸し)” or “Musu (蒸す)” is the Japanese word for steam.
Mushi Yokan typically contains candied chestnuts in the cake and the chestnut variety is called “Kuri Mushi Yokan (栗蒸し羊羹)”. As you can guess, the word “Kuri (栗)” means chestnut in Japanese.
In summary, here is the list of the primary differences between Neri Yokan, Mizu Yokan, and Mushi Yokan.
|Types of Yokan||Main Ingredients||Jellying Method|
|Neri Yokan||Sweet red bean paste, Water, Kanten||With Kanten|
|Mizu Yokan||Sweet red bean paste, Water, Kanten||With a little amount of Kanten|
|Mushi Yokan||Sweet red bean paste, Water, Flour||By Steaming|
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 羊羹 )