Will This Retro Candy Level Up Your Japanese Cooking?
Some unique recipes for traditional Japanese cuisine have been turning heads on Instagram.
- Candy for Dinner?
- We've all been told since we were young that no, we can't have candy for dinner. For the Japankuru team, imagining a dinner of Japanese food certainly doesn't call candy to mind either, instead reminding most of us of savory, nuanced flavors and perhaps spikes of wasabi. Which is why it caught us all a little off guard to hear that Japanese confectionary company Kanro had opened their own new recipe page on their website, and it wasn't all about candy making. In fact, the candy is used in Japanese classics, and after taking a good look, we think the recipes might just work.
The Kanro brand's classic Kanro hard candies (カンロ飴) have been around for 60 years, making beloved by sweet tooths of all ages, and they're said to be rich with the flavor of Japanese cuisine. What exactly does that mean?
- Salty-Sweet Japanese Flavor
- Well, the candies' distinct flavor comes from a very simple recipe of just four ingredients: sugar, starch syrup, soy sauce, and salt. The salty soy sauce and sweet sugar is a combination of flavors found all over the map of Japanese cooking, in everything from stews and teriyaki to the sauce of the sweet snack mitarashi dango (みたらし団子). It's at the heart of Japanese cuisine.
- Kanro candy is made in a special process that heats and blends the ingredients together to make a unique sweet treat, a tradition carried on since Japan's Edo era (1603~1868). But because Kanro candy's distinctly Japanese flavor profile comes from a mix of sugar and soy sauce, reminiscent of the "kaeshi" sauce mix used in all kinds of cooking, break it down into its core components and it's no real shock that it might fit into a number of Japanese dishes.
- The Sweet Appeal of Japanese Home Cooking
- Head to the new Kanro webpage dubbed the Kanro Ame Shokudo (カンロ飴食堂, Kanro candy cafeteria) and you'll find a handful of dinner-ready recipes featuring the retro candy. This isn't just "foods that go well with the candy" or "foods inspired by the candy," Kanro hard candy is a real ingredient in every dish. This bowl of rice is "takikomi gohan," a traditional rice dish generally flavored with a soy sauce-based sauce mix. This recipe includes bacon, oyster mushrooms, and one little globe of Kanro candy, which they say adds a fragrant sweetness to the dish.
- An iconic home-cooked meal, the flavor of nikujaga (肉じゃが, meat and potato stew) hinges on the perfect ratio of sauces used in the broth. Their recipe adds half a dozen Kanro candies to the mix, which they say really polishes up the flavor.
The recipes on the new Kanro page were formulated based on the advice of an artisan soy sauce representative, giving them the ring of authenticity we all crave when it comes to candy for dinner. But they're also conducting events where you can share your own Kanro candy recipes through Instagram. Get a hold of a bag of the salty-sweet Japanese hard candies next time you're in Japan, bring them home, and see what you can make! You might just end up with a winning recipe.
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