Manju is a popular traditional Japanese snack. There are many varieties of this sweet, but most are made from flour, rice powder and buckwheat, and a filling of anko (red bean paste) made from boiled azuki beans and sugar.
Manju was derived from a type of mochi, or pounded rice cake, that has existed in China for a long time. It was originally called Mantou in Chinese, but became known as manju when it came to Japan. It is said that the origin of this sweet was during 1341, when a Japanese envoy brought back Manju from China. It was then sold as Nara-manju, and has since been enjoyed by Japanese people for nearly 700 years.
There are many varieties of manju, but some are more common than the others. Matcha (green tea) manju is one of the most popular forms of manju in Japan. The outer layer of the sweet is coated with a green tea powder which gives it a rich green tea flavour. Another common form is Mizu (water) manju. This is traditionally eaten in the summer time, and contains a flavoured bean filling. The outer layer of this variety of manju is made from kuzu starch, which gives the dough a translucent, jelly-like appearance.
One of Japan’s more unusual, uncommon delicacies, this sweet has a special place in Asian confectionery. So, try out this must-eat in Japan – Manju.
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