Anmitsu: A Classic Japanese Dessert

Anmitsu recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Yield: 3 to 4 bowls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
255 Calories
0g Fat
64g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 255
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 50mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 64g 23%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 56g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 36mg 181%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 236mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Anmitsu is a classic Japanese dessert that is often enjoyed in the warmer months of spring and summer. It is a delightful combination of different textures including firm kanten jelly, sweet fruits, and a coarse sweet red bean paste called anko (contributing the "an" in the name of this dish). As for the fruit, almost any combination of your favorite fruits are sure to please the palate, but common canned fruits include sliced peaches and mandarin oranges, or even fruit cocktail. Fresh fruit could include kiwi, strawberries, oranges, berries, melon, grapes (especially when sliced in half), and/or pineapple.

The jelly that is used in anmitsu is a vegan jelly known in Japanese cuisine as kanten. In English, it is known as agar, also called agar agar. It is made from red algae and is sold in dehydrated form.

Ingredients

For the Kanten Jelly:

  • 1/2 stick kanten, or 1 teaspoon agar agar powder

  • 1 2/3 cups water

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste

For the Syrup:

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional

For Serving:

  • Fruit of your choice (sliced peaches, orange slices, grapes, cherries, kiwi slices, apple slices, strawberry slices, and/or mandarin oranges)

  • 1/3 cup anko, or sweet bean paste

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Japanese dessert is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Kanten Jelly

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for kanteen jelly
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack 
  2. In a large bowl, soak kanten or agar agar in 1 2/3 cups water for 1 hour, or until softened.

    Kanten soaking in water
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  3. Remove the kanten, reserving the soaking water. Squeeze the softened kanten to remove moisture and tear it into pieces.

    Squeezed and broken up kanten in a bowl
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Place both the kanten pieces and the 1 2/3 cups soaking water in a medium pan and bring to a boil, stirring. Turn down the heat to low and simmer, stirring, until the kanten dissolves.

    Kanten and water cooking in a pot with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Add the sugar and stir well. Pour the liquid into a flat container and cool until firm.

    Kanten jelly in a container
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Make the Syrup

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for syrup
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. Mix 1/4 cup of water and the 2/3 cup of sugar in a saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar.

    Water and sugar in a pot
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  3. Add the lemon juice, if using, and set the syrup aside to cool.

    Adding lemon to sugar syrup
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For Serving

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Cut fruit and red bean paste on a plate
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  2. Cut kanten jelly into small cubes.

    Jelly being cut into small cubes and placed in a bowl
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Spoon kanten jelly and fruits into individual bowls.

    Jelly and fruit in bowls
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  4. Pour syrup over the ingredients and top with sweet bean paste (anko).

    Spooning syrup over the bowls topped with red bean paste
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Enjoy.

    Anmitsu in bowls with spoons
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Tips

  • Once the jelly has been prepared, it can be kept in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days.
  • Use premade, packaged sweet red bean paste, either tsubuan (coarse red beans) or koshian (smooth red bean paste), depending on your preference. The ingredient is available for sale in the refrigerated section of Japanese markets and other Asian grocery stores. Canned sweet red bean paste might also be available.
  • For the fruit, try mixing both fresh and canned fruit. Great canned fruit to try includes mandarin orange slices and peach slices.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of dissolving the kanten in water, you can use fruit juice such as apple juice to add a bit more flavor.
  • While the classic anmitsu dessert includes the kanten, syrup, and fruit, other treats may be incorporated into the recipe, such as ice cream (green tea or matcha is commonly used), red endomame peas, small sweet rice cakes, mochi such as shiratama dango or chi chi dango mochi, and, in place of the white sugar syrup, kuromitsu, which is a brown sugar syrup.

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