Ingredient 16 squares 16 squares
Tsubuan 1¾ lb. 800g
agar powder 1½ tsp. 4g
water ½ + ⅓ cup 200 ml
shiratamako ⅓ oz. 10g
water ⅓ cup 80 ml
sugar ½ oz. 15g
cake flour 1¾ oz. 50g
cooking oil as needed as needed

This unusual Japanese dessert is a little like the distant Eastern relative of fried ice cream. Based on a block of fruity yōkan gelatin, it has a thin, soft coating of lightly sweet batter added to make a visually interesting, entirely Japanese dessert. If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth or are a fan of the many variations of adzuki bean paste, give these a try with a cup of good green tea.

A kintsuba block cut in half so you can see the yokan inside


  1. Prepare a batch of tsubuan.


  1. Mix and heat yōkan ingredients.
    Yokan cooking, once it has reached the right consistency 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, add tsubuan. Simmer, stirring with a wooden spatula or spoon until it is thick enough that dragging the spoon across the bottom of the pan leaves an exposed streak.
  2. Mold and chill yōkan.
    Yokan in the pan Wet the inside of a square 20cm (8-inch) pan, pour the yōkan mixture into it, and smooth the top. Chill in the refrigerator until stiff.
  3. Cube yōkan.
    Yokan cut into cubes Turn the chilled yōkan out onto a work surface, trim the outside edges to square it up, and cut into 16 equal 5cm (2-inch) squares. Set aside.
  4. Prepare coating.
    The mixed kintsuba batter In a small bowl, mix the shiratamako and water. Whisk until completely blended. Add sugar and flour, then whisk until smooth.
  5. Fry.
    A pan full of kintsuba frying Heat a frying pan over low, then use a brush or paper towel to coat the bottom with oil. Dip one of the surfaces of a block of yōkan in the batter and scrape off the excess on the edge of the bowl, leaving a thin layer. Put in pan with that surface down to fry briefly until the batter solidifies. Repeat for each of the six sides of each of the cubes, adding oil to the pan as necessary. You can also use a spoon to put batter on the yōkan, which might be easier.
  6. Trim and serve.
    The coated cubes might have flanges along the edges from excess batter; trim these down with a knife to keep the cubes tidy. Serve at room temperature.


  • When adding the coating, if the pan is too hot or you let it cook too long, the yōkan will melt, so keep the layer of batter thin and only fry briefly. The coating will only solidify, not become crispy.
  • You can prepare the yōkan in advance, then take it out of the refrigerator when you’re ready to coat and cook.
  • Shiratamako is a type of specialty rice flour; you may have to go to a Japanese specialty store to find it.