While researching about youkan and its recipes. I found out that there are two types of youkan, one is mizu-youkan 水羊羹, meaning "water youkan" made with more water; the other type is neri-youkan 練り羊羹, and if you guess that this one contains less water, you would be correct.
Basic mizu-youkan recipe typically calls for a 1:1 bean paste to water ratio, 2 grams of agar powder for every 100 mL of water, throw in enough sugar to your liking, which usually is not a lot since the bean paste is already sweetened, plus a pinch of salt (if you remember about it). Simmer to melt everything down and pour into a mould to set.
Neri-youkan ratio can be anywhere from 2:1 or sometimes even 3:1 bean paste to water ratio, agar ratio is still the same as above 2 g per 100 mL, sugar to taste, and a pinch of salt. Throw everything in to heat and dissolve, but this time, cook until it forms a ball mass, then press into a mould to set.
There is your recipe...in theory and in practice. How often does that happen??
But for those of you who want numbers and steps, here it is
Red Bean Mizu-Youkan 小豆水羊羹
150 g koshi-an, smooth red bean paste; or matcha-an
150 mL water
2 g agar-agar powder
10 g granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1. Fill a small pot with water and bring to boil, sprinkle agar powder on top
2. Momentarily remove pot from stove and stir until agar is dissolved. It will bubble and boil over very quickly if left on hot stove
3. Return pot to stove and lower temperature to medium, or even medium-low
4. Add bean paste, stir until dissolved
5. Add sugar and salt, stir until dissolved and simmering
6. Pour into any mould you wish you use. Traditionally, it's a pan with straight sides.
7. Leave a room temperature to set or chill in the fridge.
7 (a). If you wish to create coloured layers of youkan, pour the first layer down while keeping the second colour warm on the stove. When the first layer is partially set (sticky), pour the second and repeat layering if desired. If you have missed the sticky phase, scratch the surface of the youkan really well and pour down the second layer.
8. To remove from mould, run the bottom and sides under hot water and apply pressure on the walls of the container. Youkan will pop out cleanly.
9. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in airtight container in the fridge.
Translated from Cookpad
300 g an, bean paste - red, white, matcha, etc.
100 mL water
3 g agar powder
100 g granulate sugar, maybe less - adjust to taste
1. Bring water to boil and sprinkle agar powder into the water
2. Lower the heat and stir to dissolve. Be careful not to allow agar water to boil over, it can happen very easily
3. Add bean paste and sugar, stir to combine/dissolve
|Sugar first. I added brown sugar this time.|
|Now the paste|
4. Cook the youkan until the paste pulls from the sides or when you scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula, the lines stay put (kinda like when judging if a custard is done)
You can see the bottom of the pan when scraped,
and the mass stays aside for a while
5. Pour into a mould and allow cool to set, may chill in the refrigerator
|Knock and jiggle to spread|
|Run under a hot tap and slide a sharp thin knife along the edges|
jiggle to remove
Mizu-youkan tend to be a bit more on the "crunchy" side as the texture is affected by the amount of water and agar. It differs greatly from neri-youkan as it is more like the bean paste being held together and holding its shape due to the agar being dissolved in a bit of water and then working it into the bean paste, so it is more paste-like rather than jello-like in the mizu-youkan.
So, Meow found a kitty cat silicone mould a while back when looking for a non-leaky springform pan. I had been meaning to make chocolates with it but I didn't wanna bother with the hassle of tempering chocolate and the mess it makes. This seems to be the perfect alternative.
They did turn out quite cute and bite sized as wagashi was supposed to be. It was so cute that Meow Mother didn't want to eat it. I have this pet peeve that food must be eaten especially if I went to the trouble of making it look good too, it enhances the tasting experience. So eat the damn thing!
Not surprisingly, Meow Mother prefers neri-youkan to the mizu-youkan. Citing that texture was the factor. Neri is creamier and has a stronger and prominent flavour.
Funny thing about the neri-youkan is that the drier you cook it, the stiffer it becomes when it sets. So, if you like them a bit more supple, you can pull it off the stove as soon as you can see the bottom of the pan when scraped. To each their own.
I mixed some shiro-an with the koshi-an and used brown sugar with it. The idea of brown sugar was from a piece of neri-youkan that I bought in a store a little while ago which was shiro-an and kokutou (brown sugar). It has an interesting and prominent flavour. Though for my batch, I think the addition of ginger juice would make it even more interesting for a little extra zing!