This Vegan Anmitsu is the perfect colourful and refreshing summer treat – cubes of green matcha jelly, pillowy purple sweet potato mochi and sweet red bean paste paired with vanilla ice cream, all topped off with some sticky date syrup.
The version I’ve made here is much healthier than its more traditional counterpart, as it’s naturally sweetened.
Anmitsu is a traditional Japanese dessert that consists of cubes of jelly, served in a bowl with sweet adzuki (red bean) paste, fresh fruit, little balls of mochi, and ice cream, all drizzled with a black syrup called kuromitsu.
This dessert might look quite complicated as there are so many different elements to it, but it’s honestly pretty easy to put together as everything can be made in advance and can keep in the fridge for up to a few days. So you just need to make the different components and then assemble them when you’re ready to eat.
Now let’s go through all the different steps.
Let’s start with the matcha jelly. In Japan, jelly is traditionally made with agar, which is a natural jelly-like substance that comes from algae that grows in the sea. It was first discovered in Japan in the 17th century, where it is known as kanten. It’s very healthy as it’s around 80% fibre, as well as being vegan-friendly, unlike gelatine.
You will be able to find agar flakes in most local health stores or Asian supermarkets, if not your local supermarket. I use this one by Clearspring, which you can buy in supermarkets and health stores in the UK.
Although for anmitsu the cubes of jelly are usually made with fruit juice, I decided to make these ones here with matcha green tea, both for the beautiful colour as well as the delicious flavour! Matcha powder also has the added benefit of being full of antioxidants and other such health benefits.
You can buy matcha powder from local health stores or Asian supermarkets. I used this one from Lalani & Co.
Next, the purple sweet potato mochi. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice (don’t worry, it’s still gluten-free, like normal rice) beaten into a sticky paste and moulded into shapes.
Although for anmitsu the mochi is usually plain, I decided to make it with purple sweet potatoes for extra flavour, aesthetic appeal and the added health benefits. And as the purple potatoes are naturally sweet there’s no need to add any sugar. If you live in the UK, Waitrose have recently started selling purple sweet potatoes so you’ll be able to get hold of them easily!
These little balls may look pretty intimidating to make, but there’s no need to be scared of making mochi yourself (as long as you can get hold of glutinous rice flour, which you can buy in Asian supermarkets – I use this one from the Japan Centre). You don’t need to spend hours beating rice into a sticky paste as they traditionally do in Japan – just cook the sweet potatoes, add rice flour, mould into shapes and boil them for a few minutes. It’s basically like making gnocchi but with purple potatoes and rice flour.
Next, you just need to mix together some tinned adzuki beans with a sweetener of choice and mash them slightly with a fork to get the right texture. Adzuki beans are used in a lot of traditional Japanese desserts and inadvertently contain lots of health benefits too – they’re full of protein and fibre and are recently being hailed as a superfood.
And finally, I like to drizzle over some date syrup, which is a great healthier substitute for kuromitsu (a Japanese sugar syrup that’s similar to molasses but milder and thinner).
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!
- 400ml water
- 1 teaspoon agar powder
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup (or honey if not vegan)
- ½ teaspoon matcha powder
- 2 small purple sweet potatoes, peeled
- 140g glutinous rice flour
- Splash of water
- 200g tinned adzuki beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons date syrup (or sub any other sweetener), to taste
- Vanilla ice cream (ensure dairy-free if necessary)
- Date syrup, for drizzling
- Make the jelly - add the water, agar powder, agave syrup and matcha powder to a saucepan and bring to the boil
- Turn off the heat and pour into a large, shallow, flat-bottomed dish and leave to cool
- Place in the fridge once cool and leave for at least a few hours until it sets
- Cut into cubes and keep in fridge until ready to serve
- Make the purple sweet potato mochi - boil, steam or roast the purple sweet potatoes until soft
- Place them in a large bowl and mash with a fork
- Add rice flour and water and mix well – it should form a sticky paste-like mixture that’s easily moulded into balls (add as much water as you need to form a soft, sticky paste that’s easily moulded)
- Mould the mixture into small balls – about 2cm in diameter
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add about a handful of the balls once the water’s boiled, leaving the pan on high heat throughout – it’s very important to wait until the water’s boiling and you mustn’t add too many at a time otherwise the temperature of the water will drop and they won’t cook properly!
- Cook the balls in a few batches – they’ll be ready 1-2 minutes after they’ve risen to the surface of the water
- Scoop them out with a spoon once they’re done and transfer to a bowl/plate. Repeat this process until all the balls are cooked
- Keep in fridge until ready to serve
- Make the adzuki paste - place adzuki beans in a bowl with sweetener of choice and gently mash with a fork (the texture should be lumpy). Adjust amount of sweetener according to taste
- To serve, arrange the jelly, purple sweet potato mochi and adzuki beans in a bowl. Top with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with date syrup