Mizu Yokan is a traditional Japanese dessert that is served as a refreshing treat on warm summer days. The jellied dessert is made with sweet red bean paste, sugar, and other flavorful ingredients such as chestnuts.

Of the many different types of Japanese desserts that can be enjoyed, a particular favorite is Mizu Yokan. A refreshing treat on warm summer days, mizu yokan might not look like much, but it delivers a symphony of texture and flavor that is undoubtedly enticing.

But while this traditional Japanese treat can be found nearly anywhere in Japan, finding it in America can be a bit more of challenge. Thankfully, mizu yokan isn’t difficult to make on your own. If you can’t find the basic ingredients in a nearby Asian supermarket, you can easily order them online.

What is Mizu Yokan?

Mizu Yokan is a type of dessert that is referred to as wagashi—small, easy to consume desserts that come in a variety of flavors and shapes. They are often enjoyed with tea, and indeed, the flavors of mizu yokan are complimented very well by a hot cup of green matcha tea.

Mizu Yokan can best be compared to American Jell-O, although it is slightly firmer and less translucent. It is usually served in the shape of small rectangular blocks, and appears maroon in color. The color comes from red adzuki beans. These beans are often made into a sweet red bean paste that is utilized for many Japanese desserts.

Yokan refers to the jellied dessert whose ingredients consist of azuki beans, sugar, and kanten powder. Kanten is a powdered component forms into a jelly when mixed with water and chilled. Yokan comes in several different flavors and variations, as different additional ingredients can be added. These include chestnuts, various small pieces of fruit, Japanese sweet potatoes, and green tea powder.

Mizu Yokan refers to a yokan dessert that contains a bit more water content (mizu means water in Japanese). Adding more water makes a lighter and more refreshing dessert when chilled and served in the summer.

Mizu Yokan is also a great vegetarian dessert, because the thickening agent, kanten, is made from seaweed, as opposed to gelatin, which is made from animal by-products.

Learn how to make red bean paste from adzuki beans.