Japan – Mushi Manju

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by Zayna Khan

It is a sort of steamed cake or steamed dumpling in sweet flavors. It is a dessert that is very unique and amazing in flavor. It is a very light and low calories dessert. The cooking method is steaming for cooking the dough and bean paste. It is also known as Japanese Confession cuisine, WAGASHI. This is a steamed wheat flour dough filled with sweet red bean paste. It is very nice and full of nutrition. It goes very well with the green tea. It is served as a dessert, snack and in lunch boxes for school. It is sold in the small shops as candy or a sweet for kids. It is very common in Japanese stores.

We can make the outer layer of the Manju either by the wheat flour dough or sticky rice. These two are very common methods of cooking Manju. The wheat flour dough is more usual than the sticky rice outer layer Manju.

WAGASHI, Japanese Confession

Wagashi is the Japanese confession meal that is traditionally served with green tea. The word Kashi refers to the SWEETNESS, so this dish is introduced that is more towards the Japanese tradition. Wagashi is made up and serves as a gift for festivals, to admire the Tradition of Japan. It is even cooked on the Japanese new year. This dish is more like a vegan dish having a sweetened beans paste filled into flour dough or either sticky rice. They are so colorful that can please the mind.

It is specially made up of Plant’s based ingredients, like :

  • Mochi
  • Anko
  • Red beans
  • Azuki, etc.

There are so many different types of Japanese confession dishes are cooked and admired by the people. They are based on the Moisture content in the specific dish.

NAMAGESHI : It is a wet confectionary of about 30% or more moisture into the Japanese wagashi.

HAN- NAMAGESHI : It is said to be half-wet confectionary. This is 10 to 15% of the moisture into the wagashi dish.

HIGASHI : It is dry confectionary, about less than 8% of moisture content.

DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF MANJU BUN (outer layer )

Manju is made up of different main ingredient that is filled with the different fillings. We can make it by using different options of making the outer cover. The outer coating is usually thick that can hold the filling into the Manju layer.

Following are the ingredients by which Manju is cooked.

White flour

Usually, white flour is also known as plain flour or it is mixed with corn starch. In this dish, white flour is mixed with the corn starch and then used to cook the outer cover for the Manju. The dough made should be tough that can hold the filling inside while cooking in steam. This is more like Momos, or dumplings. It is not wrong if you called this dish by the name sweet dumplings. But because of the tradition of Japanese confession, Wagashi we called this dish by a different name.

Buckwheat flour

Buckwheat is a plant cultivated for its grains. These grains can make flour and used in different Japanese dishes. This buckwheat flour is used in making Manju with a different variety and taste. These seeds and grains are used as cereals.

Rice flour

Rice flour is also very commonly used in making this Manju. This tastes more like a rice cake if you are using rice flour to make this steamed Manju.

DIFFERENT FILLINGS OF MANJU

ADZUKI PASTE

Adzuki or red beans paste/jam is the old traditional filling of Wagashi. This is the main authentic filling made of using red beans paste to fill the Manju and steam them in a form of a ball. This red beans paste is also known as Anko in Japan. Azuki beans also have much other variety of color and slightly different in taste like red beans, white beans, black beans, etc.

This paste is prepared by boiling the beans into the water until softened, then grind them to form a paste-like texture. When this paste is left for a while it turned sweet. This is dark red in color with a smooth and homogenous consistency. The grinding of the beans must be smooth to make a thick unanimous texture of the paste.

KOSHIAN PASTE

Koshian paste is made up of Anko paste but with the addition of some more ingredients to enhance the taste and flavor of the dish. This is the paste in which whole red beans are used and with the addition of brown sugar. Sometimes the paste when leftover gets sweetened but sometimes it tastes bland so we add brown sugar into it. By adding brown sugar we can get the same color of the paste but the consistency of the paste is more sticky by adding sugar.

TSUBUAN PASTE

Tsubuan paste is also made up of red beans but it has a different texture and flavor. We also called this tsubuan paste red beans jam or tsubuan jam. In this paste, we add white sugar and honey to make it sweet enough. It has chunky consistency like a marmalade. Beans are cooked then mashed by spoon or fork to make it like a chunky paste.

OTHER COMMON FILLINGS

  • Chestnut fillings
  • Purple pumpkin filling
  • Matcha bean paste filling
  • Green tea filling
  • Miso beans paste filling
  • Sesame seed filling

VARIETIES OF MANJU

1.Matcha Manju

Matcha is a fine powder of green tea leaves. It is also known as green tea powder or matcha. Green tea flavored filling is added into the Outer bun made up of plain flour dough. It is the very unique flavor of Manju that can make this look green from the inside. This flavor is not usually loved by many people but still, some people cook, bought and eat this flavored Manju.

This filling is made by adding matcha powder to the sugar and made a thick paste-like texture that can hold the shape and filled properly into the Manju bun.

2.Momji Manju

Momiji Manju is made up of Buckwheat flour and it is shaped into a maple leaf-like shape. It is very common in Japanese confession, wagashi. It is served after confession, during festivals, and on Japanese new year’s eve.

This buckwheat outer layer is filled with the red beans sweet paste and then steamed to cook and serve.

3.Jyouyo Manju

This bun of Manju is made up of rice flour and grated sweet potatoes filled with red beans paste. The colors are added to the bun topping to make it resembled to the white yam and purple yam.

  • The yellow color is added to the rice flour and white yam dough is known as KOHAKU MANJU.
  • Purple color is added for the purple yam dough, also known as ORIBE MANJU.

OTHER DIFFERENT VARIETIES ARE :

Sake Manju

Miso Manju

Yaki Manju

INGREDIENTS OF THE RECIPE

  • Plain white flour : 2 cups
  • Baking powder : 2 tablespoons
  • Salt : 1 teaspoon
  • Brown sugar : 4 tablespoons
  • Water : 1/2 cup

ANKO PASTE

  • Red beans : 200 grams ( can / tin )
  • Sugar : 1/2 cup

COOKING METHOD

  • In a cooking pan add 1.2 cup water with brown sugar and dissolve them.
  • Now turn on the heat and cook it on low flame otherwise it may burnt.
  • When the still consistency achieved, turn off the heat and let it cool down.
  • Mix the white flour and baking powder together and sieve them.
  • Add the brown sugar mixture to the flour and knead it properly.
  • We need to get a thick and hard dough so this much water is enough, if you want to add some more water you can add according to the tightness of the dough.
  • On the other hand, cook red beans with sugar for 15 minutes.
  • Now mash them with spoon and set aside.
  • Its time to make small round balls by adding filling into it.
  • Take a small portion of the dough, add filling and make a ball of it.
  • Now when all balls/manju are prepared, steam them for 10 minutes and serve.
  • Enjoy 🙂

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