Anmitsu: A Classic Japanese Dessert

Anmitsu, Japanese style dessert
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Ratings (7)
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 3 to 4 Servings

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 ideas are kiwi, strawberries, oranges, berries, watermelon, 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 substitute with 1 teaspoon agar agar powder)
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (adjust the amount to suit your taste)
  • For the Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • For Serving:
  • Fruits of your choice (sliced peaches, orange slices, grapes, cherries, kiwi slices, apple slices, strawberry slices, and/or mandarin oranges)
  • 1/3 cup anko (sweet bean paste)

Steps to Make It

Make the Kanten Jelly

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl, soak kanten or agar agar in 1 2/3 cups water for 1 hour, or until softened.

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

  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.

  5. Add sugar and stir well. Pour the liquid into a flat container and cool until firm.

Make the Syrup

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Mix 1/4 cup of water and the sugar in a saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar.

  3. Add lemon juice, if you like, and set the syrup aside to cool.

For Serving

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Cut kanten jelly into small cubes.

  3. Spoon kanten jelly and fruits into individual bowls.

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

  5. Enjoy!

Tips

Use pre-made, packaged sweet red bean paste, either tsubuan (coarse red beans) or koshian (smooth red bean paste), depending on your preference. This is available for sale in the refrigerated section of Japanese 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 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.