5 Japanese Sweets That You Probably Did Not Know Before
Most readers probably already have tried some Japanese sweets. You probably know Daifuku, Taiyaki and Melonpan. But the world of Japanese sweets is broader than that. In this article, I want to showcase 5 Japanese sweets that you probably have not yet heard of but should definitely try on your next trip to Japan or if you can find them in a store with Japanese food items.
Ohagi are small rice cakes made of sticky rice that are covered in anko (sweet red bean paste made of azuki beans). They are typical autumn sweets but you can buy them throughout the year in Japan. With the anko as the covering, the rice is sticky so I do not recommend eating it with your hands.
There are variations of Ohagi where the anko is not covering the rice but the anko is wrapped in rice instead and the rice is covered with kinako (roasted soybean flour) or sesame. I prefer these versions because they are easier to eat, and I think they taste better. In supermarkets, you can often find sets of two or three Ohagi in different variations.
Monaka is a sweet made of a thin waffle dough that is traditionally filled with anko. The waffles come in different shapes and can be square, round and, depending on the seasons, shaped like seasonal flowers.
In modern times variants of Monaka filled with ice cream have become popular. These are perfect for the hot Japanese summer. Ice Monaka can be found in most supermarkets and convenience stores. As the batter of Monaka is very thin, they are low in calories.
Yubeshi are sweets made of a base of sticky rice or rice flour, sugar, and soy sauce. Walnuts or Japanese citrus (yuzu) is added for flavour. The texture is kind of like Mochi but less sticky and a little softer.
You can find yubeshi at some Japanese supermarkets, but they are not that common.
Imagawayaki is typical festival dessert, although you can find deep-frozen variants at supermarkets as well. They are made of batter that is like pancake batter and can be filled with different filling. Traditionally they are filled with anko but vanilla custard, chocolate, and matcha fillings are popular too. Recently even curry, meat, and vegetable filling have shown up.
Imagayawaki are best eaten freshly baked while still hot. They have different names in different areas of Japan, e.g. in the Kansai region, they are called Ōban-yaki.
Kusa Mochi literally translated means Grass Mochi. They are made from sticky rice cake and Japanese mugwort also known as Yomogi. The mugwort is needed into the rice cake giving them a deep green colour. Yomogi has several beneficial effects on the body. It is said to prevent constipation and have an antioxidant and detox effect.
Kusa Mochi indeed have a taste that might slightly remind you of medicine, but not in a negative way. They are variants without filling and variants that are filled with anko.
I hope this article provided some inspiration for your next trip to Japan or your local Asian food store.