Wagashi Sweets: Neri Yokan, Mizu Yokan, Mushi Yokan
Yokan (羊羹) is a Wagashi or a traditional Japanese confection with a long history.
It is a jelly dessert made with sweetened Azuki red bean paste called Anko (餡子), water, and agar Kanten (寒天).
In the making, Kanten or agar is used to make the mixture of Anko and water into jelly.
Generally speaking, when we Japanese only say Yokan, that refers to the most common type, Neri Yokan (練り羊羹).
Neri Yokan vs. Mizu Yokan vs. Mushi Yokan
In addition to Neri Yokan, the Wagashi Yokan comes in two popular varieties called Mizu Yokan (水羊羹) and Mushi Yokan (蒸し羊羹).
Today, I will explain how the three types differ for those interested in these Japanese jelly sweets.
Neri Yokan vs. Mizu Yokan
As mentioned above, the regular variety, Neri Yokan, consists of the Anko-water mixture solidified with Kanten agar, and this 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 Neri Yokan.
And that gives Mizu Yokan a more jiggly jelly-like texture and fresh appearance that is perfect for summer.
Neri Yokan vs. Mushi Yokan
Kuri Mushi Yokan
While Neri Yokan uses Kanten as a thickener, Mushi Yokan contains wheat flour or kudzu arrowroot powder mixed with sweet Azuki red bean paste and water.
As Mushi (蒸し) or Musu (蒸す) is the word for steam, Mushi Yokan is the steamed variety, and unlike Neri Yokan, the cake typically contains candied chestnuts.
The chestnut variety is called Kuri Mushi Yokan (栗蒸し羊羹), as the word Kuri (栗) means chestnut in Japanese.
To make it easier to understand, here is a summary of the primary differences between Neri Yokan, Mizu Yokan, and Mushi Yokan.
|Types||Main Ingredients||Jellying Method|
|Neri Yokan||Sweet red bean paste, Water, Agar||With agar|
|Mizu Yokan||Sweet red bean paste, Water, Agar||With a slight amount of agar|
|Mushi Yokan||Sweet red bean paste, Water, Flour||By steaming|
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 羊羹 )