Yokan is a traditional Japanese bean paste pastry, dating back to the 12th century, and can be compared to what we call ‘fruit paste’. The bean paste used can be red or white.
Since the 17th century, agar-agar (a seaweed-based gelling agent, called kanten in Japanese) has become one of the essential ingredients of yokan, as this delicacy not only seduces with its taste, but also with its texture!
There are different recipes for yokan, depending on the texture, sweetness, colour or taste you want to achieve, and it also varies according to the season.
Yokan is a traditional accompaniment to green tea, whether you want to enjoy the sweetness after the bitterness of the tea, or whether you want to enjoy the bitterness of the tea more as a contrast to the sweetness.
This Niigata red bean paste yokan was kneaded at over 100°C for about 40 minutes, a technique that allows it to retain its full flavour and softness for a full year! This yokan is of the ‘ogura yokan’ type, which means that the basic dough contains whole azuki beans, as opposed to the ‘neri yokan’ type where the beans are finely ground. The sugar used is Wasanbon, a fine Japanese sugar cane sugar made entirely by hand on the island of Shikoku. The yokan can also be frozen and served as a delicious sorbet.
Let yourself be tempted!
Good to know: obtained from seaweed, agar-agar is therefore of vegetable origin, unlike gelatin, which is traditionally of animal origin, and has 8 to 10 times greater gelling power. This product is now ubiquitous in Western pastry-making too, whether it be to firm up fruit mousses (bavarois), jams, and many other preparations!
About Maruya Honten
Founded in 1878, Maruya Honten opened in the flourishing days of port life in Niigata City, where the Kitamae-bune cargo ships from Osaka to Hokkaido called in. Since then, the city has quietened down a bit, but Maruya Honten continues to make the confectionery that made it a success, honouring both the traditions passed down through the generations and continually improving its recipes in accordance with the seasons of the region, using the best local ingredients.