Ingredient 8 Balls 8 Balls
shiroan 9 oz. 250g
agar powder (kanten) 1 packet (4g) 1 packet (4g)
water ¾ cup + 1 Tbsp. 200cc
add-in flavors see notes below see notes below

Ankodama (“sweet bean paste balls”) are a simple, classic Japanese confection consisting of flavored shiroan with a shiny decorative coating of kanten gelatin. If you haven’t tried bean-based Japanese sweets before, don’t be afraid of this; far from tasting like beans the shiroan provides a sweet, neutral base. You can either stop there, or add in any or all of a variety of flavorings for colorful variety and seasonal tastes.


  1. Prepare a batch of shiroan.
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of a baking sheet.
  3. Prepare the add-ins you will be using, if any.


  1. Mix optional flavorings in.
    If you’re making flavored balls, divide the shioran into appropriate portions for each and put in small bowls. Add one of the flavorings to each and stir until the chunks are evenly distributed or the color is even.
  2. Form into balls.
    Divide the shiroan into portions of about 30g (1 oz.) each. Roll into balls and place on the parchment paper.

  3. Prepare kanten.
    Add the agar powder to room-temperature water in a small pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to keep the powder from settling to the bottom. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 minutes, continuing to stir. After the powder has blended completely, remove from heat.
  4. Coat.
    Place each ball on a spatula and spoon some of the kanten liquid over the ball to coat, letting the excess drip back into the pan. Carefully drop each ball off the spatula onto the parchment; try to keep the coating shiny. Work quickly or the kanten will thicken in the pan before you’re done. Let cool until kanten has set.

Optional Flavorings

  • Matcha (matcha-an)
    90g (3 oz.) shiroan + ½ tsp. matcha powder
    Stir matcha and shiroan until evenly mixed.
  • Cherry blossom (sakura-an)
    90g (3 oz.) shiroan + 1 Tbsp. preserved cherry blossoms
    Rinse salt off blossoms and let soak in a bowl of water for 5 minutes; remove blossoms from water and dry by pressing gently in a paper towel; mince blossoms; stir into shiroan.
  • Egg (kimi-an)
    90g (3 oz.) shiroan + 1 boiled egg yolk
    Hard boil an egg and separate the yolk; mash the yolk though a strainer with a spoon; stir egg yolk into shiroan until evenly mixed.
  • Apricot (anzu-an)
    90g (3 oz.) shiroan + 3 dried apricots
    Chop apricots into small pieces; stir into shiroan.


  • Although it is up to personal preference, the lighter, more neutral flavor of shiroan made with navy beans works better in ankodama than butter beans.
  • If the beans are too dry and the add-ins aren't mixing smoothly, you can add a little bit of water to get it to the right consistency.
  • A small jar of salted sakura blossoms A salted sakura blossom Salted cherry blossoms (sakura no hana no shiozuke) aren’t easy to find; try Japanese markets. You can also make them yourself from fresh yaezakura blossoms, but of course you will need to find a tree in bloom to do so.