How to Make Tsubu-An (Anko)

Tsubuan on Plate

Hooray! I can finally post ‘How to Make Tsubu-An’ here, so after this post I will be able to start making more Japanese Sweets and post on this blog.

As I mentioned before ‘An’ (or ’Anko’, they are same thing) is the main component of Japanese Sweets. It is normally a sweet paste made of beans. There are mainly three types of An (Anko) used for Japanese Sweets and they are ‘Tsubu-An’, ‘Koshi-An’ and ‘Shiro-An’.

  • Tsubu-An ; Made of Azuki beans
  • Koshi-An ; Made of Azuki beans, sieved and skins removed
  • Shiro-An  ; Made of white beans, skinned and sieved


‘Tsubu-An’ has Azuki bean’s skin left and not sieved so it’s got more of a coarse texture among all the other ‘Anko’. And maybe because of this coarseness it is tended to be used for more casual Sweets. It needs less procedure to make Tsubu-An but that is not the reason I make this type more often. I like Tsubu-An’s texture the most. It is very versatile. If you are interested in making Japanese Sweets, Tsubu-An making is the great place to start.

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Kakigori – the Shaved Ice with Mango

Mango Kakigoori

I mentioned about Japanese Summer tradition in food –  ‘Chilled Ramen’ before. There is another Must-Have in Summertime in Japan. That is ‘Kakigori‘ – the Shaved Ice!


It is the same as the Chilled Ramen, ‘Kakigori’ also has a traditional Flag to decorate at the entrance of restaurants letting people know that the shop serves it. Apparently the design of this flag has been more or less the same for more than 100 years. The red part in this flag is a Japanese Kanji character ‘氷- Kori‘ which means Ice. The blue part is obviously the sea that is the symbol for Summer and also there for making you feel Cool I believe. And the green part is two birds called ‘Chidori (Plovers)’. Whenever you see this sign you feel the summer is there and you want to have some shaved ice.

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Anko Sandwiched Steamed Matcha Cake

amtcha steam cake

This sweet might look like a normal baked Western cake. But it’s not really because …

  1. this is a steamed cake
  2. it’s Dairy Free and also Free from Oil.
  3. Japanese substances are used as main ingredients so it’s ‘Japanese Cake’.

I like steamed cake. It has a much lighter texture than a baked cake. I haven’t eaten any Japanese sweets for a while so my body started craving for something with some ‘Anko’ in it. This is how this cake was born in my kitchen.

a piece of Matcha Stem cake copy

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Matcha Soy Latte (Chilled)

Matcha Soy Milk

It is mid summer now. Even here in London it is very hot. I always have afternoon tea with a piece of cake and a cup of Earl Grey Tea or Coffee, but sometimes I rather want to have something cold instead of a hot drink during summertime.

This chilled Matcha Latte is used with Soy milk so if you are allergic to dairy or just don’t wat to have any milk products this is just the drink for you.

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What is Kinako (きな粉) ?


Have you heard of ‘Kinako? If you like Japanese sweets, Kinako is one of the ingredients you come across occasionally. It is a yellowy powder substance that is made of Soybeans. You can make it at home but I recommend to get it from a shop because it is very hard work and also it is probably much nicer, from my experience anyway.

When I was a high school student our domestic science teacher made us study about certain Japanese food ingredients. My group chose ‘Dried Shiitake Mushroom’ and some other group chose ‘Kinako’. They made home-made Kinako and we tried tasting it during the class. I remember that it tasted quite the same as the one from the shop but the texture was far too dry and we felt almost like choking. So, you don’t have to try making it by yourself. Get it from a Japanese Food shop.

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Although I haven’t manage to post ‘How to Make An/Anko’ yet (‘Tsubu-An’ Making has been posted now), I decided to go ahead with this post by thinking that presumably some readers know what ‘An/Anko‘ is and where to get it. But if you don’t know I will post how to make it shortly.

So have you heard of ‘Anko-ruffles’ before? No? You might have guessed it. Yes, it’s a made-up name from ‘Anko’ + ‘Truffle’ by me. These are Japanese Sweets I created but just look like Chocolate Truffle, don’t they? The taste and texture are completely different. This is one of the easiest Japanese Sweets to make. If you can gain some ‘An/Anko’ by either making it yourself or buying it.

 <Anko-ruffles> (Gluten/Dairy/Oil, Fat Free)

Anko-ruffle with TeaAn/Anko is the most essential ingredient in Japanese Sweets ‘Wagashi’. It is sweet bean paste. The one I used for this sweet is ‘Tsubu-An’ which is made from Azuki beans. If you have a little amount of ‘An’ (An is sometime called ‘Anko’. They are exactly same things) and some powder ingredients, you can make Anko-ruffles!

As the dry powder ingredients I used ‘Matcha’ Green Tea, another Japanese substance ‘Kinako’ and Chocolate Powder for this time. I will talk about ‘Matcha’ Green Tea and ‘Kinako’ in separate posts.

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Food Industry Art in Japan

Window Display of a Restaurant in Japan

They look delicious, but you cannot eat them?!

This is the last post on the Report of my visit to Japan. It is also supposed to be the post for Day 4 (yes, I am a little bit behind) of the ‘Blogging101’ so I am adding an element  I haven’t done yet.

Pasta ModelsWe Japanese say “Eat food with our eyes”. As well as being tasty Food has to be colourful & beautiful.

Looks delicious but not edible

You might know there is a unique Industry in Food Business in Japan. It is Food Model making for window displays. In my childhood they were everywhere. Almost all restaurants had them at their entrance. The purpose is simple. They show what the foods of the restaurant look like, the kind of ingredients the dishes have and most importantly they are there for attracting customers!

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Depa-Chika with Beautiful Sweets & Hanami Bento

Prawn Crackers display デパ地下 和菓子 えびせんべい

‘Ebi-Senbei’ – Prawn Crackers are famous savoury/sweets from Nagoya

If you are Foodie and when you are in Japan one of the places you must go is ‘Depa-Chika’. It is the shortened name for the Basement (Chika) of the Department Store and it is basically a Food Court. Lots of small food shops gathered on one or two floor in the Basement of a Department Store that sell all sorts of food, savoury or sweet, and drink.

Depa-chika デパ地下

A very noticeable thing in the Depa-Chika is that their products are displayed so beautifully, particularly in the Sweets shop section.

Depa-chika Japanese Sweets Wagashi デパ地下 和菓子

Wagashi – Japanese sweets on display

Depa-chika Prawn Crackers デパ地下 和菓子 えびせんべい

Prawn Crackers with pretty patterns

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Sakura Manjyu

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I’m in the middle of the report about the visit in Japan. However, I created this sweet from being inspired by Sakura/Cherry blossom in Japan in Spring time and cannot resist introducing them here any longer.

flower for web


[Sakura Manjyu]

Yes, these are the sweets I have used for the banner of this website. It is a type of Japanese sweet called ‘Nerikiri’. Its ingredients are white bean, sugar and rice flour. That’s all! So they are free from gluten, egg, dairy and even oil/fat. Very simple but it need a bit of practice to shape each one of them by hand into Cherry blossom or petals.

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The Rice Flour used for this is ‘Shiratamako’ which is made from glutinous rice ‘Mochi-Gome’. Although it is called ‘Glutinous’ this stickiness of rice is coming from the molecules of ‘Amylopectin’ and not from Gluten. The difference is that Gluten is Protein found in wheat and Amylopectin is a huge starch compound made of many sugar like molecules connected to each other so that it is Carbohydrate. They are completely different substances. By adding a small amount of sticky rice to ‘Shiro-An (White Bean paste)’ the texture becomes stretchy and bendy just like plasticine. When I add a little bit of natural food colouring it becomes more like a real cherry flower?

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When I have a market stall people often think these ‘Nerikiri” sweets are marzipan, but “NO” they are nothing like marzipan. You can shape each individual sweet by hand as you like so that it has to be skillfull to make ‘Nerikiri’ and the process is very time consuming. Among all Japanese sweets they are rather posh ones, I must say. They are often used for traditional Tea Ceremony because of its sophisticated delicate finish.

Although it is simple enough to make ‘Nerikiri’, in order to understand this sweet I have to start from explaining how to make ‘Shiro-An (White Bean Paste)’ first. It means I have to wait to post this recipe until I mention ‘Shiro-An’ making. Sorry for keeping you waiting. 💓

Blueberry Cheese Daifuku

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Cream Cheese-An (Sweet White Bean Paste base) and Blueberry Jam centre wrapped up with Blueberry infused soft Mochi (Rice Cake)

Since I sub-named this site as ‘Japanese Food and Everything Else’, I could not think of starting a post with non-Japanese food on this blog. But there was a problem. We have a huge variety of fruits at home at the moment. They are plums, kiwi fruits, grapefruit, banana, blueberries, apples and figs. I have to use them. I wanted to make something I can post on this blog by using them. However, these fruits are more suitable for western sweets rather than for Japanese. So I had to think what I can do to make something Japanese with western fruits.

And then my eyes focused on one of the fruits.



However, they look too western! So I gave a challenge to myself on turning Blueberries into Japanese Sweets.

M’s Blueberry Challenge!
Here is the outcome of my challenge ‘Japanese Sweets with a western twist’.

 <Blueberry Cheese Daifuku>
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‘Daifuku’ is one type of Japanese sweets that An (Sweet Bean Paste) is wrapped up with Mochi (Rice Cake). Usually the An used for Daifuku is either Tsubu-An (Azuki Bean Paste) or Shiro-An (White Bean Paste) and both go well with most of fruits. So the flavour of Blueberry should also go well with this idea.

But it has such a western face, then I had to give a little bit of twist in Daifuku for making it slightly more western.

The solution was ‘Cream Cheese’. I am going to use Cream Cheese-An’ for this sweets. Basically the idea is making a Japanese version of Blueberry Cheese Cake.

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It was the first time for me to make ‘Cream Cheese-An’. I have not had it anywhere else yet but the taste of the ‘Blueberry Cheese Daifuku’ was just what I wanted. Soft smooth Cream Cheese-An matched very well with Blueberry Jam. A hint of White Bean Paste’s mild taste combined all the flavours into one.

Obviously it is not Dairy Free but it is still Free from Gluten, Fat/Oil and Egg. It was a good attempt. Success!

Happy Healthy Eating!