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Anko (あんこ) is the catch-all term for various products based on azuki beans boiled with sugar. Also simply called an (あん) and often used as a prefix, e.g. anpan is bread with anko, anmitsu is mitsumame topped with anko, etc. Anko has distinctive taste, which some (including yours truly) find addictive but some loathe with a vengeance.

Anko is made by boiling off the extra water from yude azuki (azuki beans boiled in sugar) and mashing what remains. The unfiltered mash is known as tsubuan (lit. "lumpy an"). If put through a fine strainer, discarding about 1/3, it becomes koshian (filtered an), also known as nerian (kneaded an). The resulting paste can be dried, in which case it becomes sarashian (dried an). Sarashian is useless in itself, but it keeps almost forever and can be easily reconstituted into koshian simply by adding water.

Whereas anko is by default made from red azuki beans, it is also possible to use white beans (esp. hakkatô, white flower beans). The resulting paste is known as shirokoshian (white filtered an). Shirokoshian is rather tasteless in itself, but due to its lack of flavor and color it can be mixed with a wide variety of other foods, such as green matcha powder, yellow kabocha pumpkin, satsumaimo yams, even miso paste.

Note that ankô (鮟鱇), with a long O, is Japanese for angler fish, a popular stew ingredient in winter.

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