The beauty of Japanese sweets
Anko: sweet red bean paste. This dark brown has played such a huge role in our food culture for centuries. In the comparison with Western sweets, I believe this is where the uniqueness of Japanese sweets mainly comes from.
First of all, you can learn how to cook this mysterious red bean paste from this video.
Thinking about what I stated at the beginning of this article, it's quite ironic to say this, but only a few of us still make this paste at home. It's because of our hectic life style, plus incredibly increased availability of Japanese sweets on the streets freed us from this time-consuming task.
When I was an elementary school student back in early 90's, we were totally addicted to embracing a variety of unfamiliar sweets from America & Europe, forgetting the beauty or wonderfulness of traditional Japanese sweets. (typical of an economic boom...)
Then it didn't take so long until we saw a sharp increase in our obesity rate & started reevaluating our own food. In the mid or late 90's, more and more experts came to claim the superiority of traditional Japanese sweets & scientific evidence to support it had come out little by little.
In addition, the rise of cafes in the 2000's which have mixed up Japanese & Western style was also another driving force, with the unexpected Matcha boom all over the world.
And now? You can see various Japanese sweets with Anko almost everywhere from a supermarket to department store. The one below is called "Monaka", one of the traditional sweets here, which has a soft and flaky crust to wrap up bean paste inside.
Then another popular menu is "Manju" , steamed bun stuffed with red bean paste. Once you walk through a food floor of a department store, more than dozens of different manju will come into your sight one after another.
If you wanna feel & taste anko more directly, this could be the best. "Ohagi", a rice ball coated with anko. This could be a bit heavier than other sweets I've introduced above, so wait until tea time when you would have a larger room in your stomach.
If you have a week-long vacation here in Tokyo or Japan, touring around some specialty stores proudly selling anko sweets could be a great journey for you!
Thanks for reading.
Posted by 3e-Tokyo