Azuki bean or red mung bean is an annual vine known for its small beans which can be largely found in East Asia. Mochi, on the other hand, is a Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica rice. Aside from azuki beans, monaka can be made with sesame seed, chestnuts, or almost any other ingredient in a paste form.
Monaka is a part of Japanese sweets culture better known as wagashi. Japan has many varieties of wagashi. Some of them are eaten seasonally, or on special occasions, and all the regions of Japan have specialty wagashi products. Wagashi are highly artistic, with designs which express the beauty of nature and the seasons. But here, and for now, we’ll focus on monaka as one of the representatives.
When it comes to the form of the biscuit, you can mostly find them square, triangular or even as cherry blossom, and that's just a small part of the creation of monaka. Its simple process consists of mostly rice or mochi flour mixed with water and stretched into a thin dough. Then it is placed in a mould and baked, while afterwards dough shells are filled with various sweet pastes.
Traditional Japanese Biscuit
Eaten as a traditional treat during festive times, monaka sweets are commonly associated with special memories and carry greater significance in Kanazawa. Believed to bring good fortune, it is typically presented as a gift in times of celebration.
Depending on the manufacturers, there are many versions of monaka. For example, there are panda shaped ones, which are wonderful as a kid's treat, with chocolate and filled with vanilla cream. In another variation, it's aerated milk chocolate between those crispy wafers and imprinted with a flower pattern.
Each seller of this popular snack has their own recipe and technique, meaning varieties can sometimes differ heavily. Accordingly, fans are always keen to seek out a new type and queues are not uncommon.
Varieties of Biscuits
Monaka is a perfect treat to serve with tea, which is often the case, and there are many specialty stores located throughout Japan. If you're ever in Tokyo, at Awava Sobey's Tokyo Station you can find monaka made in the building's shape, a building with a historical significance. What a perfect souvenir! Similarly, Japanese sweets shop Kameya has transformed beloved lucky charm maneki neko, or lucky cat, into a bite-sizes and incredibly delicious sweets creation, calling it shofuku monaka, or lucky filled wafers! Possibilities are truly endless with this enjoyable cookie.
Try it out with ice cream, to bring the best out of this delicious Japanese treat. The crisp wafers have an ice cream cone texture and it's a great way to indulge in some cool desserts.
leadin image: global.quolofune.com