Ingredients for Wagashi (Japanese Sweets) in Singapore

*Update July 2018 with new recommendations*

So lately I’ve got a new personal project going on – I decided to try making wagashi myself!

Wagashi (和菓子 wa-gashi) are traditional Japanese confections that are often served with tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste), and fruits. Wagashi are typically made from plant ingredients.

In 2015, I was supposed to attend a Wagashi making session in Kyoto, but unfortunately my flight was delayed by a day so I had to miss out on it.

It’s been some time since I last got to go to Japan and since I can’t be there, the next best thing would be to create a pseudo Japanese experience myself in the kitchen!

So a legit concern about wagashi making is that a lot of these items uses ingredients unique to Japanese cooking. Thankfully, Singapore is a place where we can find almost everything (except that you just got to pay more).

From what I observed, most wagashi recipes uses the same few ingredients in different combinations. So you just need the few staples to create many different sorts of wagashi!

 Hungry Bird × Wagashi Recipes

Where to buy Japanese ingredients?

1. Daiso

p1240325-900x675

Top: Kinako 280g , Shiratamako 230g, Okinawa Sugar 130g, Katakuriko 280g
Bottom: Tsubuan 200g, Koshian 200g

I love Daiso. It has almost everything I need for wagashi making, even cute serve ware!

Even though Daiso in Singapore is marked up to $2 from $1.35 in Japan (¥‎108), it is still the cheapest place to find Japanese ingredients. They have quite a good selection of items which changes from time to time! Here are some items I found at Kallang Wave Mall’s Daiso.

Considering how the same items cost much more elsewhere, Daiso products are a steal especially since all these items originates from Japan! Especially if you’re still in the experimental stage and want to practice with the techniques, these ingredients are cheap enough to fail with. In the past they used to stock canned cooked red beans too, but I haven’t been seeing it around lately.

2. Tanesei Trading (JMart/ FairPrice finest)

20170301_092923

All the items from my Daiso haul can be found at JMart/ FairPrice finest too, supplied by Tanesei Trading, but costs much more! For example, $7.70 for 400g of Tsubuan/ Koshian, $3.30 for 240g of Katakuriko, $2.70 for 80g of roasted black sesame.

I usually only buy items which cannot be found at Daiso from here. Examples would be canned Hokkaido Yude Azuki beans 190g ($2.90) and Uji Matcha Powder 40g ($6.30). The matcha powder is good quality enough for baking and wagashi making I feel, but not good enough for drinking (I get my drinking matcha powder from Kyoto). At $6.30 it is a very reasonable price and I would recommend getting this instead of matcha powder from baking stores even though those may be $3.90. The taste of low quality matcha is very obvious. These are sometimes actually not made from Japanese green tea but are in fact from perhaps China or some other source, therefore a distinctly different taste.

3. Don Don Donki

Yup, this is everybody’s new favourite Japanese supermarket in Singapore. With 2 locations now – Orchard Central and 100am, it is convenient for those who frequent the town area. You can find the basic common ingredients like Kinako, Shiratamako, Joshinko, Katakuriko, Okinawa Sugar, canned red beans, Itoen/ Iyemon Matcha Powder etc. Prices here are generally lower than other Japanese supermarkets especially if you’re getting their house brand.

4. Isetan Supermarket

Isetan Supermarket generally has a good selection of Japan imported ingredients and it is arguably the best Japanese supermarket for quality Japanese ingredients. They carry ingredients of all price ranges from the super expensive wagyu beef and fruits, to basic canned food or bottled condiments like oil. For wagashi ingredients, you can find good quality Matcha (from $6.40), Kinako 100g ($4.10), Shiratamako 150g ($7.20), Joshinko 240g ($3.90), Katakuriko, Warabimochi-ko 80g ($4.95), canned azuki (from $2.90/ 190g) etc from their regular shelves. Basically whatever Donki, NTUC or Daiso have, they have it too (just that you won’t expect to have the cheapest possible prices here, though some of them do match up like the Hokkaido Yude Azuki 190g).

However what makes this place more interesting is that they have a very comprehensive section carrying Tomiz products from Japan. You can find the more uncommon ingredients here like pickled sakura flowers 60g ($5.80), houjicha powder 30g ($6.90), purple sweet potato flakes 150g ($11.90)kanten powder ($4.90), non-melting matcha powder 40g ($3.50) (I’m thinking this could be good for matcha warabi mochi)  and most importantly, powdered shiroan 150g ($9.90) – which means you can get white bean paste for wagashi making by adding water and sugar to the powder! I simply could not find white bean paste off the shelves anywhere else in Singapore. Powdered version also means you can make any amount you want without wastage they also have powdered red bean ($7.90).

The prices of Tomiz products are also every reasonable, comparable to the price our local baking shops for our local baking ingredients. How cool is that! You can also find the relevant baking tools and packaging you may need for your wagashi making or baking from the Tomiz product range.


Non-Japanese substitutes

The above are examples of where you can get real Japanese ingredients. If you wish, you can also choose to use ingredients that are not exactly from Japanese origins, but similar. The cost will be much lower and can be easily found in our local supermarkets! HOWEVER, the taste is going to be very very different. This should always be the last resort.

1. Shiratamako

Shiratamako is essentially glutinous rice flour (even though the process may be different), so the common glutinous rice flour from Thailand may work too.

elephantflour-219x300

  • Erawan Elephant Glutinous Rice Flour 600g- $1.50 (FairPrice)

2. Katauriko

Katakuriko is potato starch from Japan. I actually use it as a substitute for Warbimochiko to make Warabimochi. Technically warabimochi is made from Bracken starch, but that is incredibly expensive. Common versions are made with all sorts of other starch and Katakuriko is one option. Other options are tapioca starch and corn starch. I also use Katakuriko to dust my Ichigo Daifuku. I also heard it’s the secret for crispy chicken karaage batter. Will substitutes work as well? I have no idea, but you can try.

new_img_7273-300x30012121256_l1-300x300

  • Pagoda Pure Potato Starch 350g – $1.50 (FairPrice)
  • Flying Man Tapioca Starch 500g – $0.90 (FairPrice)

3. Joshinko

This is basically Japanese rice flour, used to make dango and can be found at Daiso in  230g packet. Of course, Japanese rice is different from Thai rice, but you can still try to substitute it.

erawan-elephant-rice-flour-300x300

  • Erawan Elephant Rice Flour 600g – $1.30 (FairPrice)

4. Okinawa black sugar

I have to disclaim that the sugar from Daiso is not pure Okinawa sugar, but have been processed with some starch and stuff. But when made into syrup, it tastes just like kuromitsu. If you wish to make your own kuromitsu with other ingredients, it is possible too! Just use dark muscovado sugar instead. 50g muscovado sugar, 50g white sugar and 50ml water is what you’ll need to make kuromitsu.

a4791724492c7c40fc57fe7a5fa2f610

  • Pagoda Unrefined Dark Brown Soft Sugar (Dark Muscovado) 500g – $1.95 (Sheng Siong)

5.  Anko

Azuki is essentially small red beans. There are many types of anko (red bean paste) used in wagashi. There’s koshian- smooth red bean paste with all skins removed, tsubuan – coarse red bean paste with skins partially removed, as well as those boiled sweetened red beans still in whole pieces (not mashed). I choose to buy store bought ones because soaking beans overnight is too much effort for me, but if you don’t mind the extra step and want to save some money, you can choose to make your own. The yield will be around 3 times the volume, so 500g of dry red beans will give you 1.5kg of anko! This costs significantly less than store bought ones. If you just want smooth red bean paste and are lazy to make your own, you can also try buying ready made red bean pasted used for Chinese pastries like mooncake or tau sar bao. It’ll not be exactly like koshian because Chinese red bean paste has oil added to it, but still slightly similar and much cheaper.
red-bean-paste-1kg-picture-1
  • Pasar Small Red Beans 500g – $2.05 ( FairPrice)
  • Yew Hwa Red Bean Paste 1kg – $5.50 (Sheng Siong)
  • Red Man Red Bean Paste 1kg (Phoon Huat)

 6. Kanten Powder

8. Matcha

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Ingredients for Wagashi (Japanese Sweets) in Singapore

    • Hi, I’ve been to parkway, kallang wave mall, plaza sing and ION daiso, more or less carry the same products unless tempeporarily out of stocks

    • Hi, there used to be only 1 place (Hashida Garo) but it has closed down. You can buy wagashi from food hall at Takashimaya or Isetan Scotts Supermarket when they have seasonal pop-up booths, but there is no dine-in place which I know of now.

  1. Thanks a lot! I’m going to visit Singapore on Sep. 25th. I’m looking forward to staying and all the yummy stuff I can enjoy in Singapore. 🙂 I think your articles will help me there!

  2. Apparently, Japanese Katakuriko is actually cooked potato starch and can be used for dusting mochi and consumed directly. Normal potato starch is not a true substitute unless you take the extra step of cooking it, perhaps by toasting in oven.

    • Hi Belle!

      From what knew and all sources I searched (wiki, baike etc) it doesn’t suggest has katakuriko been cooked during the process? The colour is so white so it does look like raw potato starch too.

      I believe this is just the Japanese term to call the all potato starch nowadays, and not referring to any specific specifc of potato starch either.

      For cooking (like warabimochi, chicken karaage) local potato starch can substitute with no issues, even corn starch no problem! but for dusting on mochi maybe we would want to use Japanese potato starch simply because perhaps Made in Japan products taste better haha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s