Wagashi Sweets: Tsubuan Monaka & Koshian Monaka
As mentioned in this article about Tsubu-An (粒あん) and Koshi-An (こし餡), the chunky and smooth Anko (餡子) red bean pastes are often used in Wagashi (和菓子) traditional Japanese confections.
When it comes to Wagashi sweets made with Anko paste, what I introduce here, Monaka (最中), is a representative whose origin dates back to the mid-Edo period, about 300 years ago.
Monaka is among the common Wagashi varieties, traditionally consisting of Anko (sweetened Azuki red bean paste) covered in two 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 here in Japan, available in every supermarket and convenience store throughout the year.
Tsubuan & Koshian Monaka
What I have now, Tsubuan Monaka (粒あん最中), is a common type filled with chunky red bean paste.
In addition, the Koshi-An version, Koshian Monaka (こし餡最中), and the Ogura-An version, Oguraan Monaka (小倉最中), are widely enjoyed.
The wafers of Monaka are called Monaka Dane (最中種), which typically consists of Mochiko (餅粉) glutinous rice flour, starch, and sweetened egg yolk.
Monaka Dane traditionally comes in square or round shapes. But nowadays, it has various designs.
Why not try Anko with lightly salted crackers?
It may be hard to find Monaka Dane outside Japan, but Anko (sweet red bean paste) also pairs well with lightly salted crackers.
I see the paste sold on online marketplaces overseas, like Amazon, so if you are curious about the combo, why not try it once?