Wagashi Sweets: Tsubuan Monaka and Koshian Monaka
As I mentioned in this article about “Tsubu-An (粒あん)” and “Koshi-An (こし餡)”, those chunky and smooth “Anko (餡子)” red bean pastes are often used interchangeably in “Wagashi (和菓子)” traditional Japanese sweets.
When it comes to Wagashi confections made with Anko paste, what I introduce here, “Monaka (最中)” is a quintessential example whose origin dates back to the mid-Edo period, about 300 years ago.
Monaka is a common Wagashi sweet traditionally consisting of Anko (sweetened Azuki red bean paste) sandwiched between 2 thin crisply baked rice wafers.
Monaka Ice Cream
In modern times, the vanilla ice cream version, “Monaka Ice (最中アイス)” has been an ice cream staple in Japan and is available in most supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the year.
Tsubuan Monaka and Koshian Monaka
What I have now, “Tsubuan Monaka (粒あん最中)” is filled with chunky sweet red bean paste, but the Koshi-An version “Koshian Monaka (こし餡最中)” and the Ogura-An version “Oguraan Monaka (小倉最中)” are also common.
The wafers served with Anko paste are called “Monaka Dane (最中種)” which is typically made from glutinous rice flour called “Mochi-Ko (餅粉), starch, and sweetened egg yolk. Monaka Dane traditionally has a square or round shape, but today it comes in various shapes and designs.
Why not try Anko paste with lightly salted crackers?
It may be difficult to get the Monaka Dane wafers outside of Japan, but Anko paste also goes well with lightly salted crackers. If you are curious about the food combo, why not give it a try?