Wagashi – the Japanese treat

27 08 2009

Japanese tea can be quite bitter sometimes, especially matcha, but the Japanese have a way of sweetening things up – with wagashi. Wagashi is small, traditional Japanese confectionery made from natural based ingredients, such as mochi, seaweed gelatin, azuki bean paste and fruits. In 1911 wagashi became popular for the first time as a snack to accompany tea, just like the British have biscuits and crumpets with their Afternoon Tea. Wagashi are also an art-form that highlights the Japanese culture and their selection changes with the seasons, where colors and shapes often reflect the time of the year. These sweets are hard to miss in Japan, because they are so colorful and present everywhere. Wagashi are a feast for all human senses.

There are three different categories of Wagashi, based on their moisture content. Sweets with 30% moisture are called Namagashi, where as the ones with 10-30% moisture are Han Namagashi. Lastly dry confectionery with a 10% level of moisture or less is Higashi. However, Wagashi can also be classified by their production method as follows:

  • Yaki mono (baked)
  • Neri mono (kneaded)
  • Uchi mono (molded)
  • Oshi mono (pressed)
  • Nagashi mono (jellied)
  • Mushi mono (steamed confectioneries)

 

wagashi

 

Here are some Wagashi examples as listed on Wikipedia:

Anmitsu – chilled gelatinous cubes (kanten) with fruit.
Amanattō – simmered azuki beans or other beans with sugar, and dried. Amanattō and nattō are not related although the names are similar
Botamochi – a sweet rice ball wrapped with anko (or an, thick azuki bean paste).
Daifuku – general term for mochi (pounded sweet rice) stuffed with anko.
Dango – a small, sticky sweet mochi, commonly skewered on a stick.
Hanabiramochi – a flat red and white sweet mochi wrapped around anko and a strip of candied gobo (burdock).
Ikinari dango – a steamed bun with chunks of sweet potato in the dough, with anko in the center. It is a local confectionery in Kumamoto.
Imagawayaki (also kaitenyaki and so on) – anko surrounded in a disc of fried dough covering.
Kusa mochi – “grass mochi”, a sweet mochi infused with Japanese mugwort (yomogi), surrounding a center of anko.
Kuri hōka – a chestnut wrapped in yōkan
Kuri kinton – a sweetened mixture of boiled and mashed chestnuts.
Manjū – steamed cakes of an surrounded by a flour mixture, available in many shapes such as peaches, rabbits, and matsutake (松茸) mushrooms.
Matsunoyuki – “the snow on the pine”, a sweetened mochi in the shape of a pine tree, sprinkled with ground sugar.
Monaka – a center of anko sandwiched between two delicate and crispy sweet rice crackers.
Ofukuimo – sponge cake filled with sweet potato paste
Oshiruko (also zenzai) – a hot dessert made from anko in a liquid, soup form, with small mochi floating in it.
Rakugan – a small, very solid and sweet cake which is made of rice flour and mizuame.
Sakuramochi – a rice cake filled with anko and wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf.
Shimizukage – a bean jelly (a kind of yōkan); literally, shimizu means “spring water”
Taiyaki – like a kaitenyaki, a core of anko surrounded by a fried dough covering, but shaped like a fish.
Uirō – a steamed cake made of rice flour and sugar, similar to mochi.
Warabimochi – a wagashi traditionally made from warabi and served with kinako and kuromitsu
Yatsuhashi – thin sheets of gyūhi (sweetened mochi), available in different flavors, like cinnamon, and occasionally folded in a triangle around a ball of red anko.
Yōkan – one of the oldest wagashi, a solid block of anko, hardened with agar and additional sugar.
  • Anmitsu – chilled gelatinous cubes (kanten) with fruit.
  • Amanattō – simmered azuki beans or other beans with sugar, and dried. Amanattō and nattō are not related although the names are similar
  • Botamochi – a sweet rice ball wrapped with anko (or an, thick azuki bean paste).
  • Daifuku – general term for mochi (pounded sweet rice) stuffed with anko.
  • Dango – a small, sticky sweet mochi, commonly skewered on a stick.
  • Hanabiramochi – a flat red and white sweet mochi wrapped around anko and a strip of candied gobo (burdock).
  • Ikinari dango – a steamed bun with chunks of sweet potato in the dough, with anko in the center. It is a local confectionery in Kumamoto.
  • Imagawayaki (also kaitenyaki and so on) – anko surrounded in a disc of fried dough covering.
  • Kusa mochi – “grass mochi”, a sweet mochi infused with Japanese mugwort (yomogi), surrounding a center of anko.
  • Kuri hōka – a chestnut wrapped in yōkan
  • Kuri kinton – a sweetened mixture of boiled and mashed chestnuts.
  • Manjū – steamed cakes of an surrounded by a flour mixture, available in many shapes such as peaches, rabbits, and matsutake mushrooms.
  • Matsunoyuki – “the snow on the pine”, a sweetened mochi in the shape of a pine tree, sprinkled with ground sugar.
  • Monaka – a center of anko sandwiched between two delicate and crispy sweet rice crackers.
  • Ofukuimo – sponge cake filled with sweet potato paste
  • Oshiruko(also zenzai) – a hot dessert made from anko in a liquid, soup form, with small mochi floating in it.
  • Rakugan – a small, very solid and sweet cake which is made of rice flour and mizuame.
  • Sakuramochi – a rice cake filled with anko and wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf.
  • Shimizukage – a bean jelly (a kind of yōkan); literally, shimizu means “spring water”
  • Taiyaki – like a kaitenyaki, a core of anko surrounded by a fried dough covering, but shaped like a fish.
  • Uirō – a steamed cake made of rice flour and sugar, similar to mochi.
  • Warabimochi – a wagashi traditionally made from warabi and served with kinako and kuromitsu
  • Yatsuhashi – thin sheets of gyūhi (sweetened mochi), available in different flavors, like cinnamon, and occasionally folded in a triangle around a ball of red anko.
  • Yōkan – one of the oldest wagashi, a solid block of anko, hardened with agar and additional sugar.
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2 responses

15 09 2009
Jason Witt

This list is a bit overwhelming. I’d like to try some of these. I have had a few at Asian restaurants. What I’d like to know is if these are “less unhealthy” than many Western sweets. I’d assume they are. I also wonder if they’re made especially to go with Japanese tea as far as a cuisine created especially for that purpose. That seems likely too. –Spirituality of Tea

24 09 2009
Tony Brown

I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! :) I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

A definite great read..Tony Brown

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