Mitsumame! Japan’s Summertime Sweet

Mitsumame is a traditional Japanese summertime sweet—a bowl of fruit, sweet red peas, ice cream and gelatin that looks like ice cubes. Does this sound appealing? No? To be honest, I was hesitant to try this recipe.
Classic Japanese Gelatin

But doesn’t it look pretty? Luckily it’s still hot and summery here, and I thought this might be my last chance to try this recipe this year.
What a surprise: this dessert is fabulous! Don’t be misled by “quick-and-easy” recipes which use canned fruit cocktail—use fresh ripe fruit. You won’t be disappointed.

Classic Agar-Agar Gelatin in Syrup

serves 4 generously
page 113

  • 1 bo kanten (agar-agar stick)
    or 1 packet kanten powder (4 grams)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • prepare a 6-inch square mold
    Or, use a cleaned milk carton, or a square plastic food container.
  • 2 cups combined cubed fresh fruit such as
    cantaloupe, kiwi, peach, berries, watermelon, banana,…
  • 1 can red peas, optional—see note below!
  • 4 scoops vanilla ice cream

If you are using the agar-agar stick, tear it into quarters and soak in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the water.
In a medium pot, combine the soaked go kanten or the kanten powder with the water. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring all the time (don’t splash the liquid up the sides of the pot or it will burn and stick): 6 to 8 minutes for the stick form, or 2 to 3 minutes for the powder.
Add the sugar, and cook, stirring to dissolve.
Ms. Shimbo suggests straining this mixture through a sieve, but I neglected this step. Wet the mold and shake out the water. Pour in the gelatin liquid. Let it cool to room temperature, then cover and chill.
To serve, unmold the gelatin and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes. In a large bowl, combine the gelatin, fruit, and peas. Serve in small individual bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Japanese Agar-Agar Gelatin in Syrup

Note: I found some delicious-looking red beans in syrup at the Japanese grocery store: oshio kokuto kntoki mame. These are not the “peas in sugar syrup” which Ms. Shimbo describes—I’ve never found them in cans as she describes, but these looked very good. And I was right! They were.

Sweet Japanese BeansSweet Japanese BeansSweet Japanese Beans

Ms. Shimbo includes the following in her recipe, and it would add a nice texture, but I had just too much fresh fruit:

  • 1/4 pound dried apricots
  • water to cover them
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Put the apricots into a small pan, and cover with water. Stir in the sugar. Cook the apricots until they are plump but not mushy. Cool in the syrup. Cover and chill. Cut into small pieces to add to the dessert.

I don’t have a big sweet tooth, and the beans I found had lots of sweet syrup so I did not make this, but I suspect many people will like additional syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

In a small saucepan, combine the above ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a bowl, chill, and cover.
To serve, unmold the gelatin and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes. In a large bowl, combine the gelatin, fruit, canned peas, and syrup. Cover and chill for at least an hour. Serve in small bowls with vanilla ice cream.

Japanese Agar-Agar Mitsumame

Other Japanese Sweets and Agar-Agar Recipes from Tess

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Inside-Out Maki August Recipes

11 thoughts on “Mitsumame! Japan’s Summertime Sweet

  1. Hi Lucy,
    I was very surprised how much I liked mitumame! I thought it would be too sweet, but it is very pleasant. It looks so cool when the weather is hot.
    I’m not quite sure what you mean “This is my favorite parlor”???
    Favorite flavor? favorite fruits? ??

    (note: wordpress has a feature to block spam comments, and I have no idea why they have suddenly decided to think your comments are spam. I don’t get so many comments on my blog so I don’t check everyday who they excluded. Do not be offended if your posts don’t show up immediately. I don’t know why they do that.)

    Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. Ha ha! How can I be married to a 58 year old man? How can my daughter be older than I am?

  2. I want to say my favorite coffee house.
    Sorry,, you don’ t use parlor.

    (So Japanese is double byte characters. Sometimes I might send double byte characters.)

    Happy birthday Mr.Tess!!
    I think he is a good husband.

  3. When you say “red peas” do you mean azuki beans? We call them red beans in Chinese and they sound similiar.

  4. Lucy,

    In the US, we might say “ice-cream parlor.” But that might be old-fashioned, unless it is part of the name of the shop. If we go for ice cream, we usually say the name of the shop as in, “I went to Dairy Queen.” or “Let’s go to Baskin Robbins.” or in my town where the best ice cream is served, “Want to go to Washtenaw Dairy?” is also old fashioned!

    I’d have to say that Mr. Tess is my favorite husband! ;-)

  5. Sherry,

    I know azuki beans, and they are good. Usually for Japanese foods, they are cooked with sugar and often mashed to be used in sweet snacks. They are actually good in savory foods, but I’ve not seen them like that in any of my Japanese cooking adventures—they don’t need to be soaked and cook rather quickly.

    The beans I used in my post were called, “seasoned French Beans
    Oshio Kokuto Kintoki Mame” which looked like large azuki beans! In my opinion, they were very good. And I’d think you could use azuki beans, too.

    The only “red peas” I have found have been in small cans of fruit to be served with the kanten. The fruit is usually in heavy syrup with peaches, mandarin orange segments, pears, and artificially colored red cherries. I have not tried those—I grew up with cans of “fruit cocktail” just like that (without the peas) and never liked it. The pictures on the cans show the red peas as being perfectly round, not bean shaped.

    I agree that they are similar to azuki beans and would work in this recipe. But if you are trying to be fanatically authentic, I don’t think they are exactly the same… Whatever, this stuff was really tasty, and the beans added a nice texture.

  6. Thank you for your reply, Tess.
    My sons like 31 ice cleam.
    31 ice creamshop is Baskin-Robbins in Japan.
    My sons want to go to 31 ice cleam shop.
    But they like orange sherbets. They don’t like ice cleams..

  7. wait a secon, did you send me a forward on my cell. It said tomorrow 2 boys will ask 4 ur number or ask u out. Send this to 9 girls or u will have bad luck with boys 4ever!. the name was Tess so it might have been you.

  8. Pingback: Mitsumame: a summer dessert « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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