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Mizuyōkan
Cubes of green tea yōkan

Yōkan (羊羹 Chinese 栗羊羹, 栗子羹, or 栗子羊羹 [1]?) is a thick jellied dessert made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar. It is usually sold in a block form, and eaten in slices. There are two main types: neri yōkan and mizu yōkan. "Mizu" means "water", and indicates that it is made with more water than usual. Mizu yōkan is often chilled and eaten in summer.

Contents

Types

Although most yōkan found in Japan and abroad are typically made with red bean paste, yōkan made from white kidney bean paste (しろあん, 白餡 shiro an?) are also relatively common. This type of yōkan is milky and translucent with a much milder flavour than that made of red bean paste. As such, they can be effectively flavoured and coloured by using green tea powder.

Yōkan may also contain chopped chestnuts [2], persimmons, whole sweetened azuki beans, figs, and sweet potato, among other additions. Sugar can be also be substituted with honey, dark brown sugar, or molasses to alter the taste of the yōkan produced. There is also shio yōkan, which uses small amounts of salt as a sweetener.

History

Originally a Chinese confection or snack made from gelatin from boiled sheep; the term is literally “sheep broth” ( sheep + broth). It was introduced to Japan by Zen Buddhists in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. As Buddhism forbids killing, agar was used instead. This modified form became the basis of modern yōkan.

One of the most popular Japanese sweets, it evolved further during the Edo period as sugar became more available. It can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration unless opened, and is a staple gift item.

Notable manufacturers

  • Surugaya
  • Toraya
  • Tsuruya Hachiman
  • 万寿家(天津)食品有限公司

Trivia

Yōkan is commonly sold with silver plastic wrapping in various sizes. Due to its relative heaviness and unfamiliarity with this dessert, it has been mistaken as C-4 or similar plastic explosives during baggage checks.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ 羊羹 at Wikipedia Chinese version
  2. ^ 栗子羊羹 at 搜搜问问 wenwen.soso.com in Chinese
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