How To Make Neri Yokan (Traditional Japanese Red Bean Jelly Candy)

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How To Make Neri Yokan (Traditional Japanese Red Bean Jelly Candy)

Bean Dessert Gluten Free Japanese Sweets Make Ahead Traditional Wagashi Vegan Vegetarian 3 Ingredients

You can't talk about "Wagashi" without mentioning red bean (Azuki) paste. While there are many Wagashi that contain red bean paste, one of the simplest and most authentic ones is "Yokan."

Yokan is primarily categorized into three types (Neri Yokan, Mizu Yokan, and Mushi Yokan) based on its preparation. Hence, the name "Neri Yokan" is derived from this simmering and mixing process.

Yokan is crafted from red bean paste, sugar, and Kanten—a Japanese gelatin made from algae.

While this traditional and classic Wagashi has long been cherished, recently, visually and taste-wise attractive Yokan varieties have emerged. These include colorful Yokan, fruit Yokan, and even versions with added rum, reminiscent of Western confectionery.

Exploring and discovering your favorite Yokan can be an interesting experience when you have the chance to visit Japan.

When preparing and making Neri Yokan, there are some tips that you should know before getting started. Here are the tips:

  1. Powdered Kanten needs to be thoroughly heated for it to work properly. If the heating process is not enough, it gets difficult to harden the Yokan.
  2. Kanten has a characteristic that quickly thickens the liquid at room temperature. Therefore, you need to pour the Kanten mixture into the mold quickly while it is still hot enough.
  3. When heating the mixture, keep stirring thoroughly to avoid burning the bottom of the pot.
  4. Wet the mold with water before pouring to make it easier to remove from the mold.

These are essential tips for making Neri Yokan. Once you have your Yokan, try enjoying it with green tea. The bitterness of green tea matches the sweetness of Yokan, creating a delightful "marriage" in your mouth with this combination.

Overview

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 20 mins

Total servings: 6

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients
  • 300 g Smooth Red Bean Paste (Koshian)
  • 150 ml Water
  • 100 g Sugar (Johakuto Japanese White Sugar, caster sugar, or any refined white sugar)
  • 3 g Powdered Kanten (Agar)

Expert's Tip

Imuraya Koshian Japanese Smooth Azuki Red Bean Paste 270g

There are two types of Anko (red bean paste): Koshi-an and Tsubu-an. Koshi-an is made without bean skins, while Tsubu-an includes bean skins. Therefore, you need to choose the texture when making Japanese sweets. Imuraya Koshian is smooth as silk and pairs well with various traditional Japanese desserts. It's an ideal choice for making Yokan and indulgent treats like Dorayaki, Anmitsu, and more!

Instructions

neri yokan ingredients

1) Gathering the Ingredients

Gather the ingredients together.

2) Heating the Kanten

Combine water, sugar, and powdered Kanten in a pot, and mix them well. Heat it over medium heat, stirring with a spatula until it comes to a boil. Continue boiling for 2 minutes to ensure that the powdered Kanten has dissolved completely.

This boiling process is crucial for activating the gelling properties of the Kanten. Insufficient boiling may make it challenging for Kanten to mold the desired yokan shape.

mixing the yokan with a heatproof spatula mixing the yokan mixture until all of the ingredients have become well incorporated

4) Thoroughly Mixing the Yokan

This is a crucial step in making Neri (練り) Yokan. After the yokan mixture reaches boiling point, reduce the heat to low and mix thoroughly until the texture thickens. You know the mixture is ready when you can draw a line on the bottom of the pot and the line gradually disappears. At this point, turn off the heat.

Note: The final texture depends on this process.

preparing the yokan mold

5) Preparing the Mold For Yokan

Prepare a mold or container and soak it in water. Pour the yokan mixture quickly into it while the mixture is hot enough. Kanten gets molded when its temperature reaches room temperature, so it's best to work as quickly as possible.

Note: We are using a 5×20cm mold, but a 500ml container will also do.

cooling the neri yokan neri yokan, after being chilled

6) Cooling Neri Yokan

Let it cool until it reaches room temperature. Then, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

finished neri yokan

7) Slicing & Enjoying Neri Yokan

Take the yokan out of the mold or container and cut it as you like. Enjoy!

About the author

Megumi is a recipe writer based in Chiba, Japan. She carries a Bachelor in the Faculty of Foreign Studies and is interested in creating content about Japanese cuisine and traditional confectioneries. Megumi is most interested in making Japanese recipe content, and in her free time, she likes to play the piano, make handcrafted goods, and hula dance. She hopes to inspire Japanese Taste readers to make Japanese recipes at home and of course share more about Japanese culture.

View articles by Megumi Moriya

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