Anmitsu, a cornerstone of Japanese confectionery, beautifully captures the essence of spring and summer seasons. This Anmitsu dessert, weaving together diverse textures and tastes, harmoniously melds the firmness of kanten jelly with the opulent sweetness of fruits and the profound richness of anko, a cherished sweet red bean paste. While Anmitsu traditionally embraces a variety of fruits – with canned peaches and mandarins being popular choices – fresh additions like strawberries, kiwi, and grapes infuse a burst of freshness and vivid hues to this adaptable treat.
Kanten: The Vegan Gem in Japanese Sweets
Central to Anmitsu is the kanten jelly, also known globally as agar or agar-agar, derived from red algae and typically available in a dried form. Agar’s plant-based origin makes it a favored vegan option, contributing a uniquely firm yet yielding texture to the dessert.
- 1/2 stick of kanten or 1 tsp agar-agar powder
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 1-2 tbsp sugar (adjust to your liking)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2/3 cup sugar
- A splash of lemon juice (optional)
- Assorted fruits (think peaches, oranges, grapes, cherries, kiwis, apples, strawberries, or mandarins)
- 1/3 cup anko (sweet bean paste)
1. Preparing the Kanten Jelly
- Combine kanten or agar-agar with water and soak for an hour until it softens. Drain, squeezing out excess moisture, and tear into smaller pieces.
- In a pan, simmer the kanten with the soaking water until it dissolves. Sweeten with sugar, then pour into a flat container to set.
2. Syrup Creation
- In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in water. Add lemon juice for a zesty twist. Allow cooling.
- Dice the kanten jelly. Layer jelly and your chosen fruits in bowls.
- Drizzle with syrup and crown with a dollop of anko.
Relish the flavors.
- Keep your prepared jelly chilled in a container for up to three days.
- Opt for either tsubuan (chunky) or koshian (smooth) sweet red bean paste, readily found in Japanese and Asian grocery stores. Canned versions are also available.
Experiment with Variations
- Infuse more flavor into your kanten by dissolving it in fruit juice instead of water.
- Beyond the traditional anmitsu ingredients, consider including matcha ice cream, red adzuki beans, dainty sweet rice cakes, or mochi varieties. For a different syrup option, try kuromitsu, a luscious brown sugar syrup.
Anmitsu is more than just a dessert; it’s a celebration of Japanese summertime, offering a refreshing, sweet escape. With its blend of textures and the harmony of sweet, fruity, and creamy flavors, Anmitsu is a delightful indulgence, perfect for warm weather or whenever you crave a taste of Japanese tradition.