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Ever since an unemployed samurai named Yasubei Kimura decided to ride the wave of Westernization that was overtaking Japan during the Meiji Period, bread has become as common at the family breakfast table as a bowl of rice. It was Kimura who successfully blended a new (at the time) food called bread with traditional sweet red bean paste, and introduced an entire nation to the first an-pan bun in 1869. Japan's love for bread has only gotten stronger ever since, especially among the younger generation, as more variations of breads and ingredients are baked every day.

Last month we introduced some basic breads that you can have fun making with your Zojirushi Breadmaker. In this issue our recipes include two classic Japanese breads that are hugely popular among almost everybody in Japan. The sweet dessert bread An-pan, and a savory style called Curry-pan.

Like the hundreds of kinds of sandwiches that Americans can choose from today, the Japanese have their choice of bun type breads that are filled with all manner of different ingredients. The most traditional of these is an-pan, a dessert bread filled with red adzuki bean paste. The outer bread is soft and the adzuki beans have been cooked and mashed into an easy to eat snacking bread. No surprise, the ideal beverage to pair with an-pan is Japanese green tea.

 

Also called a Curry Doughnut at times, this bread is another example of a bun type bread stuffed with a filling. The difference though, is that curry-pan is coated with bread crumbs (panko), and deep fried, much like a doughnut. The curry inside is what makes this bread special and such a favorite in Japan. Unlike the curry you would eat at restaurants though, this filling has a pastier consistency and is not as spicy. The bread is not as sweet as an-pan, to match the curry inside.

See recipe for An-pan
 

See recipe for Curry-pan

The Japanese Pan-ya
There are numerous places you can buy fresh baked breads in Japan--they are practically everywhere. From free standing Mom & Pop bread stores (pan-ya), to the prepared foods section at major department stores, a wide assortment of dessert breads and savory snack breads are baked everyday. Commuters can buy them for lunch at train stations, Moms can find them in supermarkets, and even midnight munchers will find a decent selection at convenience stores.

Here are some of the more popular Japanese breads that you can find in addition to An-pan and Curry-pan:

Melon-pan
A sweet bread crusted on the outside with a thin layer of sugar cookie. Sometimes made with a light green color, a classic melon-pan has a cross-hatched pattern etched into the outside that resembles the cracked surface of a cantaloupe.
Cream-pan
Usually a flat bread roll filled with a custard-like cream. The cream filling may vary in taste and texture, but a typical cream-pan is usually filled with a vanilla pudding type of cream.
Jam-pan
Jam breads are similar to jelly-filled donuts, made in many variations with different jam flavors and types of breads. The first one was invented in 1900 using apricot jam, by the same person who baked the first an-pan in Japan.
Yakisoba-pan
Basically a long hot dog bun filled with Yakisoba, a popular fried noodle dish that is often sold at festivals. The tangy taste of the noodles goes quite nicely with soft bread, and makes for a visually interesting sandwich perfect for lunch.
Korokke-pan
Another popular lunch item, this one is a hot dog bun stuffed with Korokke (croquette), a deep fried potato and ground beef patty coated with bread crumbs. The potato korokke is most common, but other variations using chicken or pork cutlets can also be found.
Tuna Roll
No, this is not a hand rolled sushi creation; this is a dinner roll type of bread filled with a tuna salad mixture. Some mayo is used, and unlike American tuna salad no relish.
 

Try these recipes in your Zojirushi Breadmaker. Both are classics with a cultural heritage that makes them unique; the Italian Focaccia and the distinctly New York Bagel.

The Focaccia is a flat oven baked bread that is a close relative of the pizza. With origins in ancient Rome, Focaccia is a popular snack bread in Italy, often seasoned with olive oil and salt. It is sometimes topped with onion, cheese, meat or vegetable. Our Zojirushi focaccia is very easy to make using our breadmaker. It's time to become Italian; Buon Appetito!   These popular ring-shaped breads have variations throughout the world, but the kind we see most in the U.S. is the New York style; chewy and doughy inside, browned and slightly crispy on the outside. They were introduced to America by immigrant Jews who started bagel baking businesses in the early 1900s in New York. The bagel has become a symbol of New York, much like the baguette is a symbol of France.
See recipe for Focaccia
 

See recipe for Bagel


Doesn't all this talk about bread make you want to whiff that fresh baked smell at home tomorrow morning? You can, with one of our Zojirushi breadmakers in a variety of styles and features. Whether your family is large or small, we have the right one for your needs.
See all Zojirushi Breadmakers
Zojirushi Style Shokado Bento is almost complete with dessert as a remaining content.
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Try making this simple Japanese dessert that uses traditional red bean paste for the main ingredient. This will put the finishing touch on our Four Seasons Kaiseki Bento; we're hoping it inspired you to start cooking your very own version!