Kintsuba: A Wagashi Sweet Made from Azuki Red Beans
As you know, “Wagashi (和菓子)” is a Japanese word that mainly refers to traditional Japanese sweets. In recent years, various types of wagashi confections are available in many countries and some have gained popularity.
For example, the gadget cat from the future, Doraemon’s yummy buns, “Dorayaki (どら焼き)” is a wagashi variety widely known in the world.
Although today a number of wagashi sweets can be bought outside of Japan, there still exist a bunch of traditional wagashi of which many overseas people have never heard before.
If I give an example of such traditional Japanese confections, “Kintsuba (きんつば)” is probably barely known outside of Japan, because it is a famous wagashi with a long history, but not that popular even in Japan.
Kintsuba Yaki (きんつば焼き)
Kintsuba, also called “Kintsuba Yaki (きんつば焼き)”, is made from sweetened Azuki red bean paste coated in a thin layer of wheat flour dough. In the name, “Tsuba (つば)” originally refers to the Japanese sword guard, like which traditional Kintsuba is shaped. By the way, the former “Kin (きん or 金)” means gold in Japanese.
The origin of Kintsuba Yaki dates back to the mid Edo period, about 400 years ago, when the confection was first made in Osaka with rice flour and called “Gintsuba (銀つば)”.
Afterward in the late 17th century, the wagashi was transmitted to Edo (present Tokyo) where the ingredient in its coating was changed from rice flour to wheat flour, and also the name from Gin-tsuba to Kin-tsuba for the reason that “Kin (金 : gold)” is more valuable than “Gin (銀 : silver)”.
In modern times, the most common variety “Kaku Kintsuba (角きんつば)” is shaped like a brick and consists of Tsubuan chunky red bean paste solidified with Kanten agar, covered in a thin layer of wheat flour dough.
Other popular types of Kintsuba Yaki include “Satsuma Kintsuba (薩摩きんつば)”, also known as “Imo Kintsuba (芋きんつば)”, which is made with sweet potato paste in place of sweet Azuki red bean paste.
Where to Buy
The traditional wagashi sweet, Kintsuba Yaki is available in supermarkets and convenience stores around Japan.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia きんつば )