10 August 2009
Kanten is Japanese for agar agar, the same agar used in petri dishes, a seaweed product that thickens like gelatin. Yōkan is a sweet jello-like dessert made from agar agar and some flavoring. Here are two simple versions:
Mizuyōkan is made from anko, or red bean paste and agar. I boiled a cup of water with two teaspoons agar agar (the Thai-based "Telephone" brand, a powdered version) and added a cup of anko (made with light brown sugar this time, which worked very well with azuki beans!). I strained that and let it set.
Grean tea yōkan is the same one-cup of agar in water and a cup of cold water with ground sencha and two tablespoons fine sugar. That was then strained and let to set.
Yōkan holds its for much better than jello (especially in heat) and has a very firm-yet-smooth texture that I enjoy despite not being a fan of jello. The grean tea yōkan was smooth and not too sweet, the mizuyōkan was a perfect way to enjoy anko outside of ice cream or daifuku. Perfect for an afternoon snack in this 95ºF heat.
Thanks to Hiroko Shimbo for the original formula!