What do Japanese people eat for dessert?

Japan's amazing food isn't just limited to the savoury stuff

Here's the thing - dessert isn't that big a deal in Japan, not traditionally at least. The idea of saving sweet food for the end of the meal is a European one, which has since been exported to countries across the world.

In "authentic" (whatever that means) Japanese food, though, sweets are small snacks to eat between savoury courses or to nibble on with tea. These colourful sweets are called wagashi, and there are a huge range of types, including sweet buns, jellies, soups and especially soft rice cakes, known as mochi.

mochi is an especially popular type of wagashi Japanese sweets

 

Image credit - Flickr

Two really popular ingredients in Japanese sweets are matcha (green tea powder) and adzuki, aka red bean, paste. Both of these bring savoury flavours into the sweets, creating a subtle flavour that can be really exciting for Western palates that are more used to the mix of sugar, fruit and/or chocolate in their desserts.

It doesn't end there though. One other incredibly popular sweet food in Japan? Cakes.

Japan is absolutely full of cake shops selling sponges mostly influenced by French desserts and made with real loving care. These include the super light chiffon cake and yuzu cheesecake. Yuzu is an East Asian citrus fruit that works brilliantly as an alternative to lemon in Japanese cheesecakes. Incidentally, we'll serve it as the dessert on our special Japanese menu next week.

In Japan chiffon cake is one of many popular adapted European cake recipes

If you follow the links to recipes for those two desserts, you'll notice something they both have in common - cheese! Cheese is expensive and rare in Japan, making it a luxury ingredient that is used only in small quantities and for really special recipes. Clearly a really good cake counts as one of them!

Have you tried many Japanese desserts? What are your favourites? Let us know over at @JustHospitality or chat to us on Facebook.