If you don’t consider bread to be a dessert, then you’ve clearly never tried anpan. For those who don’t know, anpan is a Japanese sweet roll that is primarily filled with anko (red bean paste), but it can also be prepared with other fillings such as green beans, white beans, sesame, chestnut, and more. Still not convinced? Keep reading on to learn more about the unexpected Japanese dessert.
According to historians, anpan was created in the late 19th century by a samurai named Yasubei Kimura. Once the Imperial Army began taking over protection duties in Japan, the samurai’s job became obsolete and he found a new career path in baking. Yasubei Kimura discovered anpan when he tried to make Western bread more agreeable with Japanese preferences and cuisines by stuffing it with red bean paste, and the rest is history.
The invention of anpan also inspired an-doughnuts, which are Japanese doughnuts filled with red bean paste. Though the two snacks are very similar, an-doughnuts are made with fried dough and anpan is not. Anpan is also similar to manjū, which is a traditional Japanese confection made with a soft wheat dough outside and red bean filling. Manjū has been around much longer than anpan; Manjū actually originated in China under the name mantou sometime 307 BCE – 250 BCE, and in 1341, a Japanese envoy brought the treat back with him from China and began selling it as “nara-manjū.” Despite the similarities between the two wagashi, manjū is considered a pastry, while anpan is considered to be a dessert.
Now that you’re all caught up on anpan, it’s time to find the version of the red bean dessert that’s best for you. If you’re a chocolate fanatic, you’ll definitely want to try the Tsukisamu Anpan: Chocolate! Made with white bean instead of red bean, the rich chocolate taste of this anpan actually makes the treat taste like a brownie! What’s better than that?
Or, if you’re looking to get a taste of that traditional red bean filling and then some, check out the Honma Gift Box: Tsukisamu Anpan Sampler! This sampler comes with an assortment of five filling flavors – Classic Azuki Red Bean, Matcha Green Tea, Kokuto (Okinawan brown sugar), Black Sesame, and Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) – that have all been handmade in Hokkaido. Plus, this sampler pack is made by Honma, whom Bokksu has a special partnership with!
These suggestions are good and all, but you can’t just enjoy anpan on its own. Anpan is best enjoyed with a tea pairing, like the refreshing Nekocha Green Tea from Yamasu Sugimoto Shoten (which also comes with adorable cat attachments to each tea bag)!
Or, if you prefer a roasted tea instead, don’t be afraid to pair your anpan with our Organic Hojicha Tea, which is made by roasting sencha green tea for a toasty flavor and a lower caffeine content.
Lastly, the Genmaicha Tea With Matcha Powder also makes for a perfect anpan pairing, thanks to its genmaicha and match blend that boasts warm, fresh, and nutty savoriness in every sip. Not to mention, the genmaicha uses ichibancha (first-flush green tea) that has been deep-steamed to help bring out the bold richness of the green tea.
Take your foodie status to the next level with these Japanese snacks and more from Bokksu, or treat yourself to a monthly Classic Bokksu box for the ultimate snacking experience! Each delivery of this Japanese snack subscription box contains 20-24 goodies and a tea pairing, which means you’ll be set with sensational snacks until your next snack box arrives!
By Jillian Giandurco