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Food name

June 15, 2014

Wagashi1 ¥ is a name for specialized Japanese snacks.  A company called TORAYA has its own beautiful webpage featuring different kinds of wagashi.   Amongst the WAGASHI, is Yookan which is a block of cement but it’s soft like tofu or agar-agar.  In fact I think it’s just agar-agar and sugar.

Pretty block of snack

I saw some made (cross-sectional-ly) in a shape of Hello Kitty as in

pink yookan

Pink Hello Kitty Yookan

The Chinese character for Yookan is 羊羹.  The first character in Chinese is “yang” and it means sheep or goat.  The second character, until I expand the fonts by 5X, I couldn’t see what it was.  It seemed to be(羔)on the top and ( 美 ) on the bottom.  But everything2 dot com explained it as “hot soup” (see for its details).  So a block of pretty tough and firm agar-agar is hot-soup goat?  Everything dot com says because of that, the Japanese word always  in Hiragana “ようかん”, lest anyone mistake the shop is selling goat.

Many webpages explained that this “yookan” snack is red-bean, or azuki.  See youtube video below on how typically it is sliced half an inch thick and served.

For a while, I thought every Japanese desserts (or what they called Wagashi) has red-bean in them, until I learnt of karukan (軽羹)

which is seen below and many Chinese Singaporeans who know what steamed chiu-zhi-guai (芋头糕), will know what this is:


Karukan 軽羹

And those of you who understands Chinese characters very well, please do not ask me why yookan is “goat” and karukan is “light”.

¥    Literally translated as Japanese (wa ) Candies (gashi 菓子), but 90% of these desserts-like finger foods are made of red-bean (azuki)]

One Comment
  1. My father loves these things because of his is sweet tooth, but they are too sweet for me. Youkan is one of the only Japanese foods I can bring back home that he will appreciate. And it is so easy to transport in a suitcase, too!

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