Kunpen: くんぺん

くんぺん kunpen (in hiragana) is also sometimes seen as クンペン in katakana or as コンペン konpen. The representative kanji (which you probably will rarely see is 薫餅). It is another type of Okinawa sweet, one of the representative sweets from the Ryukyu Kingdom era (more Ryukyu sweets). It was often served to visiting Chinese envoys or during feast days. It is also a popular grave or shrine offering during Shiimii シーミー.

Kunpen looks plain and rustic on the outside, just a round little brown bun, but inside is full of an island peanut taste! I think this is a food that westerners can appreciate, since it kind of reminds me of peanut butter. The outside bun is a little dry and the peanut paste is sweet and rich so make sure to have some tea to drink while you eat this tasty treat. Personally I would recommend an unsweetened drink as you will get plenty of sweetness in the kunpen itself. Many bukubuku-cha cafes will serve a small piece of kunpen with the tea set.

You can find kunpen in supermarkets and some Okinawa sweets shops; it is very easy to find if you are interested in trying one. I bought the one in the picture from Zaha Kashiten in Shuri 座波菓子店. Some kunpen have sesame added in (or even other flavors as well), but this one does not– I think I prefer it that way.