Nerikiri with Canned Beans – Recipe Version 2

To make shiro-an (sweet white bean paste) for nerikiri, you need cooked white beans. And to cook dry beans from scratch and then cool them you have to wait literally hours. Making nerikiri is time-consuming even after that... so I thought, could I possibly cheat and use pre-cooked canned beans to make nerikiri?

The answer, after some experimentation, is thankfully 'Yes'.

I've tried making nerikiri with canned beans before in 2016, but I tried to cheat and added rice flour straight into the unsweetened white bean paste to make nerikiri dough straight away, bypassing the step where you make the sweet shiro-an paste first. It kind of worked, but the consistency was a little too stiff, and of course I had no shiro-an for the filling so I used anko (red bean paste) instead. I also didn't bother to peel the beans before processing them through the sieve, which I remembered to be a real pain in the butt. It's definitely best to skin them first.

I've known about nerikiri for a very long time, being a low-key Japanophile. But it was only when I visited Kyoto in 2016 that I had the chance to eat them for the first time, and I've been hooked ever since.

I have since eaten and had the chance to make nerikiri outside of Japan on an occasion, a few times in London when a Japanese friend started creating her own and selling them / holding workshops, and once even in China when I met a lady who'd studied the art of wagashi-making in Japan and opened up her own shop.

Not having had years the years of practice this artform (and it is a form of art) requires, my technique of getting the nerikiri dough 100% correct in consistency (not too dry but not too wet), as well as my actual shaping technique, leaves a lot to be desired. But hey, it's a start. And at least with my new discovery that you can use canned beans to make shiro-an and nerikiri, I'll be more inclined to practise.

If you want to conserve your shiro-an to make more nerikiri dough instead of splitting it between making the dough and using it as filling, you can use anko instead. Unlike shiro-an, anko's much more widely available in Asian food shops here.

Need some visuals? Watch my 'at-a-glance' recipe video on YouTube:

Ready? Let's go.

Ingredients for Shiro-An

1 x 400g tin of butter beans in water, drained
150g caster sugar
Pinch of salt

Ingredients for Nerikiri Dough

5g rice flour
1 tbsp water
100g shiro-an
Food colouring


1. Remove and discard the skins of the beans, and then pass them through a fine sieve (it might seem pretty dry at this point but don't worry).

2. Cook the sieved bean purée with the sugar and salt in a saucepan over a low to medium heat, stirring constantly. It'll become watery, then gradually thicken. Once it becomes the consistency of mashed potatoes, take it off the heat, scoop it into a shallow container and leave to cool completely.

3. Now make the nerikiri dough: stir the rice flour together with the water in a small bowl until smooth. Add it with 100g of your shiro-an to pan, and cook over a low to medium heat until it form a soft dough.

4. Place in a shallow container and leave to cool completely, covering so it doesn't dry out.

5. Divide the nerikiri dough into portions and knead food colouring into each portion as you like. I like paste or gel food colouring the best as the colour is very concentrated and doesn't change the consistency of the nerikiri.

6. To make the actual nerikiri sweets, flatten out a portion of nerikiri dough and pop a ball of shiro-an in the centre, and close up the dough around it so you have a filled sphere. Now have fun shaping it, before serving with green tea (preferably matcha).

Enjoy, and have fun.


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