A deliciously simple way to enjoy mochi and red bean paste, this recipe’s red and white colours make it a fitting dessert to celebrate the Japanese New Year!
Anko is a sweet paste usually made of red adzuki beans and sugar, and is a staple in traditional Japanese sweets and desserts. Anko can also be made with white beans (shiroan), chestnuts (kurian), or sweet potato (imoan). The more common red bean variety is generally sold in two main types: tsubuan or koshian.
Tsubuan is is made by simply cooking the red beans with sugar, so they retain a chunky texture. It’s more commonly used in Kanto, the Eastern region of Japan. For koshian, the beans are pressed through a strainer after cooking so as to remove the outer skin, resulting in a smooth and creamy sweet paste. This is the preferred texture in Kansai, the Western region of Japan. You can make anko yourself (time-consuming!), but it’s fairly easy to find in Japanese or Korean grocery stores. We used the smoother koshian in the recipe below.
And what is mochi? The best thing since white rice, is what! Mochi is made from glutinous rice pounded into a gooey glob, and is used in sweet and savoury dishes alike. Mochi is a big part of the Japanese New Year cuisine, so we made a series of three mochi recipes for you to try this season. Try our isobe mochi and karami mochi too!
Below we used kiri mochi, or kaku mochi, which is cut (kiri) into rectangular (kaku) pieces, dried and packaged to last longer than fresh mochi. You can find kiri mochi in most Japanese or Korean grocery stores, and it’s an easy alternative to making your own from scratch! Kiri mochi is dense and dry, so it needs to be either grilled or boiled before eating (we’ve boiled it in the recipe below). Also, please chew carefully!