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/小豆 red beans.
Along with the Japanese food boom, the sweet bean paste has been gaining recognition outside Japan. However, when it comes to the type, it still isn’t well known.
There are many variations of Anko paste in Japan, classified into several types based on the production method and ingredients.
Today, I will introduce its common varieties for people curious about Anko or An/餡.
9 Common Japanese Anko Varieties
First, here are four popular types of Anko sweet bean paste, based on the production method, that we commonly use.
Tsubu-An is a chunky, coarse Anko paste made not to break the skin of Azuki red beans.
Tsubushi-An is an 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 the Dainagon (大納言: a species of Azuki) simmered in sugar syrup with its shape retained.
Last, below are the five most common types of Anko paste based on the ingredients or the variety of beans.
When Japanese people 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. We widely use the sweet red bean paste in various Wagashi sweets.
As Aka (赤) means red in Japanese, Aka-An is another name for Azuki-An. Also, Aka-An can 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 name for the bird nightingale, and Uguisu-An is Anko paste made with green peas.
Zunda is a type of Anko consisting of ground-green soybeans. This sweet bean paste is a regional specialty of Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 餡 )