Japanese Algae Jelly Recipe - Yokan

Yokan or Youkan [羊羹] is a thick jelly made with agar (gelatin made from red seaweed) and adzuki bean paste. In this article we will talk a little about this traditional Japanese dish and its recipe.

It is most often sold in sliced blocks and individually packaged. They are often sweetened with sugar, honey, brown sugar, molasses and may contain ingredients such as nuts, fruits and grains.

Some regions of Japan invent their own recipes using a local specialty. Yokan can also contain grated chestnuts, persimmons, figs, sweet potatoes, among others.

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What is yokan? - 羊羹 Know and learn to do

Types of Yokan

There are 2 types of Yokan the "neri yōkan" and the "mizu yōkan". Mizu means water, so it means it has more water than "neri yokan", and has a lighter, more gelatinous texture. It is usually refrigerated and eaten in summer.

There are also "shiro an" which are yokan made with white bean paste, allowing them to be flavored and colored with ingredients such as green tea. This type of yokan is milky and translucent with a much milder flavor than that made with azuki.

What is yokan? - 羊羹 Know and learn to do

Yokan's history

Yokan was based on a Chinese gelatin made from sheep, which gave rise to its name, which means Sheep and Thick Broth.

Yokan was introduced to Japan by Zen Buddhists in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods around 1191. As Buddhism prohibits killing, they substituted animal gelatin with wheat flour and azuki beans.

Agar began to be used after being discovered during the Edo Period around 1800. Yokan is one of the most popular Japanese sweets, which evolved greatly during the Edo Period, as sugar became more available.

What is yokan? - 羊羹 Know and learn to do

Ogura Yokan recipe

In this recipe you will learn how to make Ogura Yokan.


  • 2 cup of adzuki beans;
  • 3 and 2/3 cups of sugar;
  • 1 pinch of salt;
  • 1 dessert spoon of kanten (agar-agar) powder – Japanese or other good quality*;
  • Water;

Preparation mode:

Dissolve the katen in a small bowl with 2 dessert spoons of cold water and leave it there.

prepare the Anko:

  1. Cook the azuki in water in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes;
  2. Blend the cooked beans in a blender with 1 cup of the broth left over from cooking, until creamy;
  3. Transfer to a pan, and add 3 cups of sugar and 1 pinch of salt;
  4. Bring to a boil and when it starts to bubble, lower the heat, stirring constantly, with a wooden spoon, until it acquires consistency (point to roll), releasing completely from the bottom of the pan. Now book;

Put 3 dessert spoons of water in another pan and then the kanten. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and add 2/3 cup of sugar and mix well so that the sugar dissolves.

When it heats up, add the anko, and increase the heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to boil again.

Lower the heat and keep stirring, so that the jam reaches the ideal consistency point (about 10 minutes after boiling), that is, it releases again from the bottom and side of the pan, forming a very thick, medium-hard mass of stir, tending to stick around the wooden spoon, forming a cake in the center of the pan.

What is yokan? - 羊羹 Know and learn to do

Remove from heat and let cool.

Place the candy in a small, square or rectangular container, lined with film foil (PVC), to facilitate removal, and place the surface well, smoothing it with a spoon, the candy must have a height of 3 cm or more ( can be decorated by making creases or undulations with a fork or other utensil).

Let it cool, close the container and take it to the fridge for at least 4 hours. It's ready to cut and serve.

Tips: The agar-agar, after being dissolved in water, should be shiny, light yellow, somewhat transparent, similar to unflavored gelatin, and with a very mild algae odor; products that appear opaque, green in color, and have a strong "seaweed" smell should not be used in this recipe, as they compromise the flavor of the dessert.

Performance: approximately 15 pieces

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