Anko: 9 Common Types of Sweet Bean Paste for Wagashi
“Anko (餡子)” is an indispensable part of “Wagashi (和菓子)” traditional Japanese confections.
It is a sweet paste or jam made from beans boiled in water, sweetened with sugar, and kneaded. As you may know, the bean variety most commonly used to make Anko is Azuki red beans.
Along with the Japanese food boom, I think the sweet bean paste has been gaining recognition even outside of Japan. However, when it comes to the type, it still isn’t well known.
There are many variations of Anko paste in Japan, which actually can be classified into several types based on the production method and the ingredient.
Today, for people who are curious about Anko, I will introduce its common varieties.
9 Common Anko (Sweet Bean Paste) Varieties
First off, here are 4 popular types of Anko sweet bean paste, based on the production method, which are most commonly used in Japan.
Tsubu-An is a chunky, coarse Anko paste, which is made by paying attention not to break the skin of Azuki red beans.
Tsubushi-An is a type of Anko consisting of mashed Azuki beans whose seed coats are not removed.
Koshi-An is a smooth Anko paste. This type consists of pureed Azuki red beans whose seed coats are removed.
Ogura-An is a mix of Koshi-An (Tsubushi-An) and “Dainagon (大納言)”, a species of Azuki, that is simmered in sugar syrup with its shape retained.
Last, below are the 5 most common types of Anko paste based on the ingredient or the variety of beans.
When we Japanese just say “Anko”, that usually refers to Azuki-An made from “Azuki (小豆)” red beans.
Azuki-An is the most common variety of Anko paste. The sweet red bean paste is widely used in various types of Wagashi sweets.
As “Aka (赤)” means red in Japanese, Aka-An is another name for Azuki-An. Additionally, Aka-An can also refer to Anko paste using red beans other than Azuki, such as red kidney beans.
As the word “Shiro (白)” means white in Japanese, Shiro-An is Anko paste using white beans like white kidney beans.
“Uguisu (うぐいす)” is the Japanese word for the bird nightingale, and Uguisu-An is Anko paste made from green peas.
Zunda is a type of Anko consisting of ground green soybeans. This sweet bean paste is known as a regional specialty of Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 餡 )