Mizubotan – water peony

Kimika Soko Takechi
Larry Sokyo Tiscornia


  • kuzu (kudzu) 1 part / 50gm (1.75oz)
  • sugar 2 parts / 100gm (3.5oz)
  • water 4 parts / 200cc (0.8c.)
  • pink koshian (smooth bean paste) approx. 20gm (3/4oz) per sweet


  1. Prepare approximately 20gm (3/4oz) pink koshian balls that will be the center of the sweet.
  2. Dissolve the kuzu in the water until all of the lumps are dissolved.
  3. Place the kuzu/water in a heavy bottom pot (enameled cast iron is best) and mix in the sugar. Cook over low/medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and begins to clear. *If the heat is too high, and the mixture thickens too quickly, remove the pot from the heat and continue to stir. When it cools a bit, return the pot to the heat.
  4. When clear, remove the pot from the heat and place in a pan of hot water to keep the mixture from hardening. Using a wooden spoon, take some of the hot kuzu (approximately 25gm [1oz]) and place on your finger tips (have a pan of cold water ready to cool your fingers). Place the an ball on top of the kuzu, turn upside down and form the kuzu around the an ball. Pinch the kuzu to enclose the an ball completely.
    *You can also wrap the formed sweet in plastic wrap, twisting the top closed, for a nice even shape.
  5. Place in a preheated cloth lined steamer and steam over med/high heat for 5 minutes or so. Remove from the steamer and allow to cool. Makes approximately 10-12 sweets.
  6. NOTE: mizubotan can be served chilled but should not be kept in the refrigerator too long or they will become “rubbery.”


Kimika Soko Takechi
Larry Sokyo Tiscornia

The name of this sweet means “flower viewing dumplings” eaten during the cherry blossom season. The brown represents the tree trunk and branches, the green the leaves and the pink the blossoms.

Make 3 batches of konashi (one with pink colored bean paste, one with azuki (adzuki) bean paste and one white bean paste flavored/colored with yomogi [mugwort]). You can either use fresh yomogi that has been washed, blanched and chopped, or the dried variety available in Japanese and Asian markets. If using the dried variety, soften in a little cold water before using. If yomogi is not available a nice flavor and color can be achieved by using matcha, powdered green tea.

Divide each of the 3 batches into 15gm (1/2oz) pieces and roll into smooth balls in the palms of you hands using a little mitsu if needed. Using a bamboo skewer, first thread the brown ball, then the green one and finally the pink.

If serving in a traditional dangobako (dumpling box) leave a little space between the green and pink ball so that the skewer can rest on the box divider. It is also a good idea to place the pink ball so that it covers the tip of the skewer.



  • koshian (sweet smooth bean paste) 300gm (10.6oz) (a little harder than usual)
  • white all purpose flour 30gm (approx. 3T)
  • mochiko (sweet rice flour) 3gm (approx. 1tsp)
  • granulated sugar 15gm (approx. 1/2oz)
  • mitsu (sugar water syrup)


  1. For the mitsu : This sugar water syrup can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator.) Dissolve equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. When the sugar is melted transfer to a glass container and let it cool.
  2. For the konashi: Knead the flour and mochiko into the koshian until it is completely incorporated. Place the mixture in a cloth lined steamer and steam over medium/high heat for approximately 15 minutes or until all of the raw flour taste is gone.
  3. Remove the cloth, and bean paste, from the steamer and knead further using clean damp cotton towels. As you knead the bean paste, slowly incorporate the sugar. (If the bean paste gets too sticky it can be kneaded using plastic film like Saran Wrap [other brands may leave a plastic taste].)
  4. Once the sugar has been completely incorporated, and the bean paste has cooled slightly, the mitsu can be added. Continuing to use a damp towel knead in a small amount of the mitsu (approx. 1 to 2tsp).
  5. Coat the outside of the konashi with some mitsu and place in a glass bowl to cool completely for several hours. The bowl can be covered with plastic wrap after it cools to prevent it from drying out. When ready to use, knead further using a little mitsu on your hands to prevent sticking.
  6. NOTE – If coloring or flavoring is going to be used it can be kneaded in after the mitsu.
  7. One recipe makes approximately 20 dango (dumplings).

Koshian: Sweet, Smooth Bean Paste

Kimika Soko Takechi
Larry Sokyo Tiscornia


  • Baby lima beans or azuki (adzuki) beans 454 gm (1 lb)
  • White granulated sugar 250 gm (8.8 oz)


  • Check the beans carefully and discard any that are off color or broken.
  • Remove any small rocks.
  • Rinse the beans in cold water several times and then soak overnight in plenty of cold water to soften.
  • Discard soaking water, rinse and cover beans with fresh cold water.
  • Bring the beans and water to the boil and skim off any foam that forms on the surface.

  • Discard the hot water once it comes to the boil and once again cover with cold water and bring to the boil, continuing to remove any foam that forms. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times.
  • Cover the beans with plenty of fresh cold water and boil until cooked well, usually about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and press the cooked beans through a very fine strainer into a clean bowl. NOTE: The strainer can be placed into the bean water, that empties into the bowl, to make separating the skins easier.

  • Discard the skins from the strainer and wash the strainer.
  • Strain the pureed beans and water several times to make it very smooth. Discard any bean residue that remains in the strainer.

  • Pour the pureed beans and liquid into a thin cotton bag.

  • Wring the bag to remove excess liquid. Be careful not to remove too much liquid from the beans. Usually an indentation made by pressing a finger into the beans will hold its shape. If it crumbles, too much water has been removed.

  • Remove the beans from the bag.

  • Place in a heavy pot (enameled cast iron is ideal). Add the sugar and cook over medium heat, mixing constantly with a wooden spoon, until all of the sugar is dissolved.
    The temperature of the beans and sugar should be brought to the point that the mixture begins to bubble or boil. Once it reaches this temperature the heat can be turned down but continue to stir until the proper consistency has been obtained. A back and forth mixing is preferred to circular mixing. The finished bean paste will have a more shinny appearance if done this way.

NOTE: If too much water was removed initially, more hot water can be added while cooking the beans and sugar. If too little water was removed it will be necessary to cook the beans and sugar much longer to remove the excess water. It is important to stir continuously to avoid burning.

  • When ready, place the prepared bean paste on a glass or ceramic plate to cool.If coloring or flavoring is to be added it is easy to do while the bean paste is still in the cooking pot with the heat turned off. Remove a little of the bean paste from the pot and add the color to it. Place the colored bean paste back into the pot, a little at a time, and mix it until the color is evenly distributed.