Traditional Japanese confectionery, wagashi, has a history of over one thousand years, and is the product of the delicate aesthetic sense of the Japanese and their love of nature and its changing seasons.
Traditional Japanese confectionery, wagashi, has a history of over one thousand years, and is the product of the delicate aesthetic sense of the Japanese and their love of nature and its changing seasons.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Spring wagashi in a gift box and one leaf-wrapped wagashi.

Toraya Gallery, Toraya Confectionery Ltd.

© Toraya Gallery, Toraya Confectionery Ltd.


Wagashi designs are inspired by literature, theatre, paintings and textiles. To this day, these meticulously prepared sweets and cakes are served at Japanese ceremonies and celebrations.
Wagashi designs are inspired by literature, theatre, paintings and textiles. To this day, these meticulously prepared sweets and cakes are served at Japanese ceremonies and celebrations.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Edo design book illustrating the variety of styles of wagashi.

Toraya Gallery, Toraya Confectionery Ltd.

© Toraya Gallery, Toraya Confectionery Ltd.


Anpan, a roll filled with bean paste, appeared for the first time in the Meiji period as a result of the introduction of bread, a Western staple. The delicacy is attributed to two brothers, one of whom studied the latest advances of breadmaking with Westerners living in Yokohama, while the other focussed on traditional Japanese confections in Tokyo. The result was an immediate success, and it remains extremely popular to this day.
Anpan, a roll filled with bean paste, appeared for the first time in the Meiji period as a result of the introduction of bread, a Western staple. The delicacy is attributed to two brothers, one of whom studied the latest advances of breadmaking with Westerners living in Yokohama, while the other focussed on traditional Japanese confections in Tokyo. The result was an immediate success, and it remains extremely popular to this day.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Meiji recipe book

Toraya Gallery, Toraya Confectionery Ltd.

© Toraya Gallery, Toraya Confectionery Ltd.


NAMA SHIRO AN
(RAW WHITE BEAN PASTE)

INGREDIENTS:
Makes about 1000 g of recipe ready white bean paste Dried white lima beans 1 lb Water sufficient for cooking beans
UTENSILS:
A large pan for cooking the beans A very tightly woven cotton cloth with no holes A strainer One or more large pans for straining A long handled wooden spoon A gram-calibrated weighing scale
Soak beans overnight, using ratio of 1 part bean to 2 parts water The following day, bring water and beans to a boil. Add 1 cup cold water then drain. Add clean cold water, bring to a boil again and drain a second time Starting with cold water a third time, bring to a boil. Cook beans on simmer until extremely soft. While cooking, carefully skim off any foam that appears. Stir occasionally so that beans on the bo Read More
NAMA SHIRO AN
(RAW WHITE BEAN PASTE)

INGREDIENTS:
  • Makes about 1000 g of recipe ready white bean paste
  • Dried white lima beans 1 lb
  • Water sufficient for cooking beans

UTENSILS:
  • A large pan for cooking the beans
  • A very tightly woven cotton cloth with no holes
  • A strainer
  • One or more large pans for straining
  • A long handled wooden spoon
  • A gram-calibrated weighing scale

  1. Soak beans overnight, using ratio of 1 part bean to 2 parts water
  2. The following day, bring water and beans to a boil. Add 1 cup cold water then drain. Add clean cold water, bring to a boil again and drain a second time
  3. Starting with cold water a third time, bring to a boil. Cook beans on simmer until extremely soft. While cooking, carefully skim off any foam that appears. Stir occasionally so that beans on the bottom do not scorch. Add additional cold water when needed
  4. If any beans scorch, the taste will be ruined and the entire batch will have to be thrown out
  5. Once beans have cooked, cool. This makes the following steps easier
  6. Using a strainer, pour beans and liquid through a little at a time. Use your fingers, a pestle, or a masher to crush the beans. Make sure that no bean pulp remains in the bean shells. Add additional water during this step to help rinse the bean pulp out of the shells. Repeat as often as necessary until all that remains in the strainer are bean shells. Remove bean shells and discard
  7. Use a big enough pan so that no water is lost at this point.
  8. Strain liquid bean pulp through strainer a second time into a deep pan. This removes any unnoticed bean shell bits, giving finished an a more silky texture. Make sure that none of the bean pulp water is lost at this point.
  9. Let the bean pulp settle to bottom of deep pan. (this takes about 10-15 minutes) Place under very small, gentle trickle of water for about 10- 15 minutes. Let water gently roll over edge of pan, removing any scum, etc from the pulp. Let water gently slide over the edge of the pan. With your hand, gently scoop out any scum that rises to surface. Be careful that bean paste does not get stirred up.
  10. Be careful to not stir the bean pulp up during this stage or some bean pulp will be lost.
  11. Line a strainer with a very tightly woven damp cotton cloth with no holes. (Do not use cheese cloth.) Ladle some of the bean pulp liquid into it. Carefully gather up edges of cloth and firmly squeeze out all the liquid (this step needs lots of strength). What will be left is very silky raw white an. The resulting an should not be sticky, it should be dry and crumbly. Repeat above steps until all an has been removed from its liquid
  12. Don’t put in so much that the bean pulp liquid leaks out around the edges as the water is being squeezed out of the cloth. A bag made out of tightly woven fine cotton cloth is also possible to use.
  13. At this point the raw an can be weighed into usable 250g or 500g units and frozen for later use. Making this an is time consuming. Because it takes almost as much time to make a small amount as a large (5000g and up) amount, it is more efficient to make large amounts at one time, which can be frozen for later use.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

BASIC WHITE NERI AN
(BASIC SWEETENED WHITE BEAN PASTE)

INGREDIENTS:
Raw white bean paste 1000g Sugar 500g Water 500cc
Put the water and sugar in a pan. Add about 1/3 of the thawed raw white an and heat over medium high heat. When this mixture has come to a boil and the sugar has melted, add the remaining raw white an. Then heat over a medium high heat. (As the hot an thickens, it will spit and splatter, so it is best to use a long handled spoon.) To prevent scorching, stir continually until the consistency becomes dry to the touch. It should not stick to the fingers and should resemble that of stiff, rather dry mashed potatoes. Remove from heat, place in dollops on a clean dry cotton cloth to cool. Cover with a second cloth. Turn the an occasionally so that a crust does not form on the surface while it’s cooling. Wrap in plastic wrap, cool completely, and then store in a plastic tu Read More
BASIC WHITE NERI AN
(BASIC SWEETENED WHITE BEAN PASTE)

INGREDIENTS:
  • Raw white bean paste 1000g
  • Sugar 500g
  • Water 500cc

  1. Put the water and sugar in a pan. Add about 1/3 of the thawed raw white an and heat over medium high heat.
  2. When this mixture has come to a boil and the sugar has melted, add the remaining raw white an. Then heat over a medium high heat.
  3. (As the hot an thickens, it will spit and splatter, so it is best to use a long handled spoon.) To prevent scorching, stir continually until the consistency becomes dry to the touch. It should not stick to the fingers and should resemble that of stiff, rather dry mashed potatoes.
  4. Remove from heat, place in dollops on a clean dry cotton cloth to cool. Cover with a second cloth. Turn the an occasionally so that a crust does not form on the surface while it’s cooling. Wrap in plastic wrap, cool completely, and then store in a plastic tub in the refrigerator. Will keep for 4 days or so.
  5. Once the an has thickened, the temperature of the bean paste should be around 98oC.
  6. Remember that as the an cools it will become firmer in texture.
  7. If all of this an is not used immediately, the remainder can be frozen and rethawed at a later date. Once rethawed, however, reheat with a pinch of water to freshen. (This an will not be as tasty as freshly made an, but it can be used.)
  8. Do not include pan scrapings or dry bits from the pan. These bits will create hard lumps in the finished product.
  9. An often made mistake is not to have the an dry enough. Once cooled, if a 20g ball is rolled in your hands, it should hold its shape well and should not leave a heavy film on the palms of your hands. Conversely, it should not be so dry that it crumbles to the touch.
  10. If the an is too moist, when the finished wagashi is placed on a piece of kaishi, a piece of folded paper that is used as a plate during tea ceromonies (or if it is placed on a small serving plate), 2 problems will occur. First, the excess moisture from the an will wick out around the edges of the wagashi and will soak through the paper layers. Secondly, it will sag, lose its shape and will have to be scraped off the paper or plate to be eaten. Neither one of these is desirable. A wagashi made from an should be moist enough to hold its shape when it is being cut into, and it should be dry enough so that it leaves only a bare minimum residue on the surface of the item on which it has been served.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe wagashi, the traditional Japanese confectionery, and its role in Japanese society
  • Describe the history of anpan
  • Appreciate the complexity of the creation of Japanese confectionery
  • Relate traditional Japanese confectionery to confectionery from their own culture

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