What is Yokan? - 羊羹 Know and learn to do

羊羹 Yokan or Youkan is a thick jelly made with agar (gelatin made from red algae) and bean paste azuki.

Most of the time it is sold in sliced blocks and individually packed. They are usually sweetened with sugar, honey, brown sugar, molasses and can contain ingredients like nuts, fruits and grains. Some regions of Japan invent their own recipes using some local specialty. The yokan can also contain grated nuts, persimmons, figs, sweet potatoes, among others.

What is yokan? - 羊羹 know and learn to do

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Types of Yokan

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

There are also shiro an which are yokan made with white bean paste allowing them to be flavored and colored with ingredients like 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 was based on a Chinese gelatine made from sheep, which gave rise to the name 羊羹 Yokan, which means Ovelha e Caldo Grosso.


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

Agar came into use after it was discovered during the Edo period around 1800. Yokan is one of the most popular Japanese sweets, which evolved a lot 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 azuki beans;
  • 3 cups and 2/3 of sugar;
  • 1 pinch of salt;
  • 1 dessert spoon of powdered kanten (agar-agar) - 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 Anko:

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

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

When it is hot, add the anko, and increase the heat, stirring constantly, until the boil starts again.

Lower the heat and continue stirring, so that the jam reaches the ideal consistency point (about 10 minutes after boiling), that is, it releases again from the bottom and the 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.

Remove from heat and let it warm. 

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

Let cool, close the container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. It is ready to cut and serve.


Tips: The kanten (agar-agar), after dissolving in water, should be bright, light yellow, transparent medium, similar to flavorless gelatin, and the odor of seaweed very mild; products that have an opaque appearance, green color and a strong “salt air” smell, should not be used in this recipebecause they compromise the flavor of the candy.

Yield: approximately 15 pieces

What is yokan? - 羊羹 know and learn to do