Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Ultimate guide to Japanese desserts 和菓子
Wagashi / Japanese sweets usually consists of one of these popular elements; anko / bean paste, mochi / Japanese rice flour cake, matcha / green tea, sakura / cherry blossom, sweet potato and some staples such as gelatin, honey and fruits.
As you can see from the ingredients it's not your usual butter, flour, whipped cream type dessert. That's also where many westerners go wrong. They have this misconception of Japanese desserts being overwhelmingly sweet, while in reality the desserts have a very subtle sweet flavor or are not sweet at all! So, having said that let's have look at some delicious Japanese sweet treats.
Mochi 餅 / Dango 団子
Mochi is a sweet dumpling made of glutinous rice flour and stuffed with delicious filling such as sweet red bean paste, green tea flavor, fruits or actually anything you can think of. As seen on the top picture is the popular Sakura mochi (cherry blossom flavored) which the Japanese eat for Hinamatsuri / Girls Day. Mochi can even be filled with ice cream and then deep fried.. sounds good huh?
Dango, also made of glutinous rice flour is a little stickier and usually not filled but just colored with several types of flavorings. It is topped with a sweet soy sauce glaze.
One of my personal favorites; red bean (can often be translated as adzuki or aduki). I love everything with red bean filling. Azuki is sweetened red beans and is a very popular filling for many types of sweets. Pastry's, mochi and even jelly's and puddings are flavored with the sublte sweetness of Azuki. On the right side you see a famous street food dish which is called; taiyaki. Taiyaki 鯛焼き which literally means baked sea bream, is a fish shaped cake made of a sweet batter filled with Azuki or one of the other popular fillings.
Pancakes as you know them but then thinner and with more crazy fillings. Often filled with whipped cream, ice cream and fruits and folded in a triangle or cone shape. Another popular type of pancake is; dorayaki どら焼き. Dorayaki is simply sweet red bean filling sandwiched by two pancakes.
Ice cream アイスクリーム
More western influences in Japanese dessert cuisine but the Japanese love ice cream. Again, Azuki and Matcha are popular flavors, however Japanese ice cream flavors go far beyond those two. Ever thought of taro or sakura flavored ice cream?. Or how about your favorite soft serve but then triple the size? Or shaved ice cream? The Japanese have it all. Served as a street food snack in busy spots such as harajuku, the beautiful cones are seen everywhere not only because of the cool looks but also of the many delicious flavors. Worldwide know brands such as Haagen Dazs even have special flavors in Japan such as sakura & cream, honey milk, green tea truffle.
This small post could never possibly cover all of Japan's sweet treats but I hope it spiked your interest. Maybe one day go to Japan and try it yourself. Or make those thin crepes at your own stove top!
I hope you enjoyed reading!
~ mei mei