When the weather gets hot, the Japanese anticipate a favorite chilled fruit dish called anmitsu. Made from agar agar, the foundation of this dish features chilled gelatin cubes topped with summer fruit and sweet syrup which help lower body temperature and quench the thirst.
There are different variations. Anmitsu includes anko (sweet azuki bean paste) and shiratama dango (sweet rice mochi dumplings) along with the fruit, syrup and gelatin cubes. Mitsumame is the same but sans the shiratama dumplings. Cream Anmitsu (kurimu anmitsu) features a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of it all.
The traditional fruit used for anmitsu include mandarin oranges, peaches or cherries, all summertime crops. But any type of fruit can be used. For convenience’s sake, many mothers today chill cans of fruit cocktail that comes in heavy syrup to make a quick, plain anmitsu with only the cubes and fruit. Once the gelatin cubes are made, all that needs to be done is to ladle on the fruit and syrup.
I’ve included recipes to make it all from scratch. Although sweet azuki bean paste can be purchased in cans, but it is easy to make your own using the [url= http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art24859.asp]Tsubushi-An[/url]recipe on BellaOnline.com Japanese food site. Keep some prepared sweetened anko in the freezer, packaged in small servings, just for anmitsu or to serve in a dish of ice cream or shaved ice.
Here are the recipes to make all the components of traditional anmitsu.
agar agar (kanten) cubes
anko (prepared sweetened azuki bean paste)
shiratama rice dumplings
chilled fresh or canned fruits
chilled sweet syrup
Be sure all of the ingredients are well chilled before assembling. Place about 1/3 cup of sweetened kanten cubes into a single serving dish. Top with several shiratama rice balls, canned or fresh fruit, sweet syrup and a dollop of anko or tsubushi-an. Serve immediately.
Mitsumame: Follow the recipe above, but skip the shiratama dango dumplings.
Kurimu Anmitsu: Assemble as above, but add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Agar Agar (kanten) Cubes:
1 kanten (agar agar) stick
water to cover
3 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Soften the kanten stick in water for about one hour. Squeeze out water and break or cut into small pieces. In a pot, blend the sugar, lemon juice, water and kanten. Bring this to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Cook for about five minutes. Remove from heat and pour into an 8x8” baking pan. Cool. When firm, cut into small cubes
Fruit and syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 small fresh peach, peeled, pitted and sliced
5 fresh cherries, pitted
1 fresh mandarin orange, peeled and segmented
1 can mandarin oranges, in heavy syrup
1 can sliced peaches, in heavy syrup
1 can fruit coc]ktail mix with cherries, in heavy syrup
In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar into the water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer for about three minutes. Add fruit pieces and fresh lemon juice and simmer for additional two minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Transfer to a container or bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled thoroughly. Serve the cold fruit and syrup over kanten cubes and anko.
[url= http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art67881.asp]Shiratama Dango Sweet Rice Dumplings[/url]
[url= http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art24859.asp] Tsubushi-An or Anko Azuki Red Bean Paste Recipe[/url]