Some of you who have already visited Japan or live in Japan may wonder why there are a so many foods (mainly sweets) filled with red beans. The presence of red bean paste or Anko in Japanese food is very common and as popular as Nori(seaweed). Anko has been one of the characteristics of Japanese sweets from bread to ice creams, that people always miss when they are away from Japan.
Historically It was made for Steamed Buns
Historically, it came from China when the Chinese made the red paste from minced meat for steamed buns. In around year 600, Japan adopted the food and it was used in temples as the monks’ food. But because monks are not allowed to eat meat, they started using red beans. Nowadays, red bean paste is mainly used in some countries in South East Asia, Korea, Japan and China. Before people were boiling and mashing the beans and sweetening with sugar. However, now the Chinese red bean paste is slightly different as it usually contains oil and lard.
Try Anmitsu This Summer!
In Japan, red bean paste is used for many forms of sweets. Some sweets below may be familiar to you or might become one of your favorites:
1. Anmitsu is a Japanese sweet that contains ice cream (normally matcha), fruits and red beans. It is served with syrup. Pretty refreshing.
2. Anpan: a bread or bun filled with red bean paste. It is easy to find in convenience stores.
3. Daifuku: a soft coloured rice cake stuffed with red bean paste
4. Dango: Japanese dumpling and sweet made from mochiko (rice flour) topped or filled with red bean paste
5. Dorayaki: red bean paste wrapped into the sponge cake. If you might have noticed, Dorayaki is the favorite food of Doraemon (Japanese cartoon character).
6. Manju: a Japanese cake filled with red bean paste.
7. Oshiruko: a traditional Japanese dessert. Oshiruko is a Japanese sweet porridge made of red beans.
8. Taiyaki: a fish-shaped cake filled with red bean paste.
9. Yokan: a jelly made with red bean paste.
Besides the foods I mentioned above, Japanese red bean paste is also popular in ice creams and other products such as pocky, KitKat and crackers.
So, as products with red beans are very popular in Japan and come in interesting forms, you can buy it as a souvenir from Japan.