Yokan is made from beans. Often red bean paste, using adzuki beans.
Yokan takes me back to afternoons spent with a friend of mine who used to import Yokan from Japan, and take it with his Matcha tea. He had a tea whisk and gave me one. I still have it.
As with so much Japanese cuisine, Yokan is delicate, fragrant and subtle.
Proof, if proof were needed, that beans aren’t just about stews and burgers!
*The beans need soaking overnight.
- 250gms. pre-soaked adzuki beans
- 200gms. caster sugar – white or golden
- water – preferably filtered
- 2 gms. agar-agar
- a pinch of salt (optional)
Prepare Anko : sweet bean paste
- Place the soaked and rinsed beans in a deep-sided saucepan and pour boiled water over them.
- Strain the beans and repeat the process.
- Place the washed soaked beans back in the pan, and add enough water to amply cover the beans.
- Bring to the boil and boil for 5 mins.
- Remove from the heat and strain.
- These steps are not essential, but help to remove any bitter taste.
- Place the beans back in the pan, add fresh water – enough to amply cover the beans, and bring to the boil.
- Boil for a few minutes, and then reduce heat, cover, and gently simmer for 60-90 mins. Until the beans are tender and soft. You may need to add little more water….
- Strain the beans – reserve the cooking water. (The water is not needed for Yokan, but I used it as a soup stock – too good to waste).
- Place a fine sieve over a large pan and push the beans through the sieve – using a little of the cooking water to help facilitate the process.
- Repeat the process of pushing the beans through the sieve.
- Place a piece of clean unbleached muslin over a clean fine sieve, over a large bowl, and pour the bean puree into it.
- Take the corners of the muslin, and squeeze the excess liquid out of the bean paste.
(Retain the skins with the bean cooking water as they are very good for you, and use them as part of the soup stock).
I took the bean cooking water and the bean skins, placed them in a blender and pureed until smooth. This became the base stock for a truly delicious spiced lentil and vegetable soup. #wastenotwantnot The pureed bean skin stock will freeze too….
Now back to the beans … !
- Place the bean paste in a pan with 200gms. sugar.
- Bring to a gentle boil, allow the sugar to dissolve and then cook until the paste thickens and darkens in colour. Stir constantly. This process takes 5-7 mins.
- Wait until the paste comes away from the edges of the pan base for 2-3 secs.
- Remove from heat.
- Place large spoonfuls on a baking parchment lined tray to cool.
- Take 200gms. sweetened bean paste – Anko – and place in a saucepan….. Note: I reserved and refrigerated a little bean paste to try something else such as chinese steamed buns…. but use all the Anko for the Yokan if you prefer, increasing the quantities of water and agar-agar proportionally.
- To 200 gms. of Anko, add 150ml. water, and heat gently.
- When the bean paste has softened, remove from heat and add 2 gms. agar agar.
- Gently heat and stir until smooth.
- Add a pinch of salt if using.
- Bring to the boil. Boil for 2-3 mins. to allow agar-agar to activate. No need to stir, but reduce heat a little if necessary.
- The paste will become smooth and glossy.
- Cook for another minute or two, stirring to avoid sticking, until the paste shines.
- Pour into a ceramic mould 12cm x 16cm. or smaller.
- Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
- When thoroughly chilled, slip the Yokan out of the mould.
Slice and serve with green tea….matcha if you have it 🙂