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Japanese Food
Yōkan
Yōkan (羊羹, ようかん, Yōkan) - A thick jellied dessert made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar. It is usually sold in a block form, and eaten in slices. There are two main types: neri yōkan and mizu yōkan. "Mizu" means "water", and indicates that it is made with more water than usual. Mizu yōkan is often chilled and eaten in summer.

Although most yōkan found in Japan and abroad are typically made with red bean paste, yōkan made from white kidney bean paste (しろあん, 白餡, shiro an) are also relatively common. This type of yōkan is milky and translucent with a much milder flavor than that made of red bean paste. As such, they can be effectively flavored and colored by using green tea powder.

Yōkan may also contain chopped chestnuts, persimmons, whole sweetened azuki beans, figs, and sweet potato, among other additions. Sugar can be also be substituted with honey, dark brown sugar, or molasses to alter the taste of the yōkan produced. There is also shio yōkan, which uses small amounts of salt as a sweetener.

Originally a Chinese dish made from gelatin from boiled sheep. It was introduced to Japan by Zen Buddhists in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. As Buddhism forbids the eating of meat, red bean paste was used instead. This modified form became the basis of modern yōkan.

One of the most popular Japanese sweets, it evolved further during the Edo period as sugar became more available. It can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration unless opened, and is a staple gift item.

Information source: “Yōkan.” wikipedia.org. Article date: 10 Nov. 2007. Retrieved: Wikipedia. 8 Feb. 2008 <Yōkan>.

















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