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Japanese Food File 5

Cream Anmitsu

Cream Anmitsu
  • Name :Cream Anmitsu
  • Tastes like :Brown sugar caramel with ice cream, Kanten (Japanese gelatin), Anko(sweet Adzuki bean paste) / cold dish
  • Ingredients :Kanten(Japanese gelatin = 0 calorie!), aka-Ingen-mame(red peas), Anko(Adzuki sweet bean paste), Kuro-mitsu(brown sugar caramel sauce), ice cream
  • How it's cooked :served cold with Kuromitsu poured over diced Kanten jelly, ice cream and Anko.
  • How much it costs :varies from around 300 yen to around 700 yen

Cream Anmitsu, known as a delux version of Anmitsu, is a Japanese style sweet dish made of small cubes of Kanten (Japanese gelatine) jelly served cold in a bowl, with additional toppings of cut fruits such as peach slices, mikan (Tangerine oranges) or pieces of pineapples, Shiratama(rice flour dumplings), Gyuhi(soft rice cake), and ice cream. Oh, and often cherries to add the final touch. Usually comes with a small pot of Kuromitsu(brown sugar caramel sauce) to pour over the jelly, though sometimes replaced with Shiromitsu, a transparent type of syrup. Personally, I prefer the former.

It has been decades since this dessert has been enjoyed throughout the nation, especially during the hot and humid summer season to relieve the unpleasantness of heat and stickiness. Well, it's always been a feast for me since at least thirty years ago...

It is said that Anmitsu has developped from Mitsu-mame, an original menu which a traditional Japanese-style confectionary shop Funawa has released in the late 1890s. Mitsumame consisted mainly of Kanten jelly and red peas with additional fruits toppings like pineapple pieces, apricots, Tangerine oranges, and Gyuhi(soft rice cake). Served in a ritzy silver dish accompanied by a silver spoon with poured syrup, Mitsu-mame must have gathered attention in those days as plush sweets.

Meanwhile, the son of another well-established confectionary shop called Wakamatsu, was racking his brains trying to come up with a new menu somehow, making use of their home-made Anko(Adzuki sweet bean paste) which they took pride in. Finally, he decided to add his Anko to Mitsu-mame. The fantastic collaboration of his Anko and Mitsu-mame became a great hit in no time, but he didn't monopolize the license of this menu. Instead, he is said to have shared the recipe with other confectionary shops to spread the new Anmitsu throughout the country.

Thanks to the ideas, hard work and generosity of those confectioners, today we can enjoy nice cold sweet Anmitsu to relieve the heat. The two confectionary shops Funawa and Wakamatsu, can still be found in Asakusa and Ginza, respectively.