Partially down to the way Japanese meals are structured, and partially because they tend to specialise in one type of dish and not stray far from that, many Japanese restaurants don’t tend to offer desserts. When you do stumble across one that does serve a sweet course, a lot of the time it’ll be the perennial favourite, anmitsu. At first glance appearing to be a fruit salad, the closer you look the more you start to notice key Japanese flavours and ingredients within it. Sweetened red bean paste and green tea flavoured cream sit atop a mound of cubed kanten- clear water jelly made from red algae, and small round rice dumplings are anointed with a slick of kuromitsu black sugar syrup, before the whole dish is adorned with the selection of fresh or preserved fruits that first caught your attention. Shiratama dango are traditionally made from just rice flour and water, but we’ve added silken tofu to ours to make a softer, more delicate dango that dries out less and has an irresistibly bouncy, squidgy bite to it. All of the elements combine harmoniously to create a very refreshing dish, perfect for eating after a particularly rich or spicy meal or it makes an excellent snack on a hot Summer’s day.
- 70g okinawan black sugar (or you can use muscovado sugar)
- 1 tablespoon rice syrup or honey
- Place the sugar and the syrup in a small saucepan with three tablespoons of water. Over a low heat, slowly dissolve the sugar in the water then bring to a simmer. As soon as the syrup starts bubbling fiercely, turn off the heat and allow it to cool.
- The kuromitsu will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for at least a month, but it’s so tasty I doubt you’ll have any leftovers to store.
- 2 tablespoons agar flakes (if you’re using agar powder, use 2 teaspoons)
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- In a small saucepan, whisk together 500ml cold water and the agar flakes, leave the flakes to hydrate slightly for about a minute before putting the pan on a medium heat. Let the mixture come to the boil while constantly stirring. When the flakes all appear to have dissolved, add the sugar and continue to cook on a low heat for another two to three minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and pour the kanten mixture into a rectangular baking dish or tupperware approximately 15-20cm across- you want the jelly to be around 2cm deep. Leave the kanten to cool down fully before refrigerating for about two hours.
- When fully set, gently tip the sheet of jelly onto a chopping board. Using the largest knife you have, slice the kanten into 2cm wide strips, then cut across the slices to make 2cm cubes. The kanten cubes can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.
- 410g tin red azuki beans
- 200g caster sugar
- Drain the can of azuki beans and rinse well under cold water. Put the beans in a blender and pulse until smooth, then empty into a small saucepan.
- Add the sugar to the beans and place on a medium heat, cook the bean paste for about ten minutes until it’s glossy and thick, stirring constantly to prevent any sticking.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool fully before using. The anko will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week.
This recipe is for koshian or smooth anko, if you prefer it coarse (tsubushian) then just mash the beans with the back of a spoon instead of blending them.
Shiratama dango ingredients.
- 80g shiratamako flour
- 120g firm silken tofu
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar
- The shiratamako flour will look a bit clumpy, almost granular when you open it, this is perfectly normal and is due to the manufacturing process so don’t be alarmed. In a large mixing bowl, crush the silken tofu with the back of a wooden spoon. When you have a rough paste, add in the sugar and shiratamako, stir until you start to feel the ingredients binding together then switch to using your hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, if you take a piece of dough about the size of a grape in your hand, press it into a disc shape and feel the firmness of the paste, it should be about as soft as your earlobe.
- Roll your dango dough into a long sausage, then divide it into 20 pieces weighing approximately ten grams each, shape these into balls and set aside ready to cook.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil, carefully drop in the dango balls, when they rise to the surface of the water, cook them for a further two minutes. Remove the cooked dango with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.
These dango are best eaten within an hour or so of cooking them, so don’t make them too far in advance.
- 10 strawberries
- 15 red grapes
- 3 plums
- 1 persimmon
- 15 lychees
- 1 teaspoon matcha powder
- 250ml double cream
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 quantity of anko from the above recipe (this is the ‘an’ part of the name anmitsu)
- 1 quantity of kuromitsu from the above recipe (this is the ‘mitsu’)
- 1 quantity of kanten from the above recipe
- 1 quantity of shiratama dango from the above recipe
- Mix the matcha powder with a tablespoon of the cream and allow to sit for a few minutes while you prepare the fruits. Wash your fruits, peel and stone them if necessary and cut into bite sized pieces. We tend to cut each fruit differently to provide a variety of shapes across the dish.
- Pass the matcha and cream mixture through a small sieve or tea strainer into a large bowl then add the rest of the cream and the icing sugar. Whip this together with a whisk until the cream forms soft peaks.
- Place a layer of the kanten cubes in each of your serving bowls, then top with your dango and fruit- any slices of fruit are really useful to tuck between the kanten and the bowl to provide some height. Carefully spoon a mound of the anko into the centre of the bowls and some of the matcha cream next to it. Serve with the black sugar syrup at the table for people to add their own.
Serves 4-6 people.