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 (tsubuan).
While the classic anmitsu dessert includes the jelly, fruit and red beans, other treats that may be incorporated into this include ice cream (try vanilla or green tea), and small sweet rice cakes or mochi such as shiratama dango or chi chi dango mochi.
As for the fruit, almost any combination of your favorite fruits are sure to please the palate, but standard canned fruit include sliced peaches and mandarin oranges or even fruit cocktail. Other fresh fruit ideas include 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 in English agar, also called agar agar. It is made from red algae and is sold in dehydrated form.
Article Edited by Judy Ung
- For the Kanten Jelly:
- 1 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 stick kanten (agar agar, or 1 substitute with 1 teaspoon agar agar powder)
- 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 the Toppings:
- 1/3 cup anko (sweet bean paste)
- Fruits of your choice (sliced peaches, orange slices, grapes, cherries, kiwi slices, apple slices, strawberry slices and/or mandarin oranges)
In a large bowl, soak kanten (agar agar) stick and 1 2/3 cups water for one hour, or until softened.
Squeeze softened kanten and tear it into small pieces.
Add the kanten pieces or kanten powder in 1 2/3 cups of water in a medium pan and bring to a boil, stirring. Turn down the heat to low. Simmer until the kanten dissolves well, stirring.
Add sugar and stir well. Pour the liquid into a flat container and cool to firm.
To make syrup, mix 1/4 cup of water and 2/3 cup sugar in a saucepan and heat to dissolve sugar. Add lemon juice if you like and cool the syrup.
Cut kanten jelly into small cubes. Serve kanten jelly and fruits into individual bowls. Pour syrup over the ingredients and top with anko.
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.