Have you ever tried Japanese Sweets?
Do you like pastries ? If you do and are in Japan, I highly recommend you to try some local sweets and snacks !
It is true that Japanese people are not used to eat very sweet food or what we call “desert” so much. However some purely Japanese food can be a little sweet because of the sauce, for example the sauce one that you put on okonomiyaki, yakisoba ortonkatsu. Actually, there are maybe more sweet dishes (even mildly) in Japanese cuisine than in let’s say European countries’ cuisine. However, since Japanese traditionally don’t have the habit of eating desert, it is hard or even almost impossible to find a restaurant serving Japanese food that will propose you a desert.
But Japanese sweets do exist !
In general, they are a lot less sweet than western pastries and their main ingredient is often rice. An other popular ingredient you can find a lot is… beans… Yes, it may surprise you but you will find sweets flavored with azuki beans in Japan and this is really good. Azuki is a vine widely grown throughout East Asia and the Himalayas for its small (approximately 5 mm) bean.
First of all, the most simple Japanese dessert is mochi, which is a rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. It is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. However, you will rarely eat it alone as you can see below.
It can be served covered with a syrup made from shouyu (soy sauce), sugar and starch or flavored in different ways (green-tea flavored etc…)
Daifuku is one example of a more elaborate sweet made of mochi. It consist of a small round mochi stuffed with sweet filling, most commonly anko, sweetened red bean paste made from azuki beans.
First, dorayaki. It is a red bean pancake which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from castella wrapped around a filling of sweet red bean paste.
Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake made of pancake or waffle batter and filled with anko. If you are not so much into anko, you can get these lovely fishes filled with other delicious stuff such as custard cream, chocolate or savoury fillings such as cheese & ham or even okonomiyaki.
All the sweets I mentioned above are not expensive but rather cheap and can thus be enjoyed multiple times 😉 . The last one I want to introduce to you is called yokan.
Is is more expensive and looks more like high quality food. It is one of the oldest Japanese sweets and it consists of a solid block of anko, hardened with agar and additional sugar. It comes in different colors and shapes and can be beautifully decorated according to the seasons.
If you want to get to know more about Japanese sweets and read reviews about popular and seasonal sweets check out Mogmog, an English Website for Japanese sweets.
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