Experiences - Asia

Must-eat in Japan – Melon Pan

There’s something unique about the way Japanese pay attention to details and the effort and care they take in what they do that makes them perfect, Melon pan is one of them. Although Japanese are not quite famous for baking they have inculcated, implemented and improved upon baking from around the world that they add a unique touch and flavour to it.

Melon-pan, is a sweet cookie bread from Japan which is also popular with slight variations in Taiwan, China and Latin America.

Melon Pan

Image Courtesy: RW Sinclair used under the Creative Commons Licence

So why is a sweet bread called a ‘Melon-pan’?

The word was derived from a bilingual etymology. ‘Melon ’ is an English word while ‘pan ’ is the Japanese word for bread borrowed from Portuguese. So what’s the connection between a Japanese bread and a Portuguese name? In fact the Portuguese were the first to establish themselves in Japan during the Age of Exploration.

The appearance resembles a melon especially cantaloupe, the colour, texture, etc. Although they do not taste of melon. There is also a popular belief that the Japanese cut their melons in a crosshatch manner and the same pattern is used on the Melon pan and hence the name.

Melon Pan bread

Image Courtesy: Héctor Ratia used under the Creative Commons Licence

Melon pan is basically soft , covered with a crunchy cookie layer coated with sugar. The inner bread is spongy like how the regular bread is made and the outer crust is made like a cookie dough to cover the inner bread to make it crisp, and that is what makes this bread special.

These days a lot of variations are being made to the melon pan including some with chocolate chips in between the layers as well as other flavours like caramel, maple syrup and flavoured cream or custard filling.

Melon pan tastes best when consumed on the same day it is made and served warm with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

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