Purin: proof that Japan can make custard powder even more kawaii
We could spend a year or more writing about Japanese sweets. And hey, maybe next year we’ll do that. Everything from New Year’s mochi to Christmas cake – via summer ice creams, festival taiyaki and baby castella, and whatever new KitKat flavour came out that week.
If we ranked our faves by how easy they are to make, purin’s a winner. It doesn’t need any weird ingredients you can only get from Japan, it’s quick and simple, and it tastes great.
An ‘only in Japan’ thing… sort of
Before we get too far into this blog post, we need to burst some milky bubbles. Purin isn’t a Japan thing… not really. It wasn’t created here. Other countries call it ‘creme caramel’ or custard pudding: invented in Europe, and brought to Japan in the early 20th century.
But you know where we’re going with this already. Japan adopted purin into the family a long time ago, to be a kawaii little sister. It’s got permanent residency, and took on a more Japanese-sounding name.
You’re gonna need a bigger spoon
Buying and eating purin in Japan’s easy – almost too easy, for sweets addicts. Any supermarket or conbini will have some on the shelves. Find it in little bite-sized packs, or plastic cups, or glass jars.
Or… stay home and shake up an egg.
Eggs are what helps a purin mixture set – the finished dessert’s wobbly and easy to cut up with a spoon, but still solid. Use a mini turning machine to transform one egg at a time into a mini pudding. (There’s a Gudetama version of the purin maker, as well.)
Put a raw egg in, shake it up for around 2 minutes, then leave it in simmering water for another half an hour. By the end, there’ll be nothing but purin inside the shell.
Some companies fight to sell the biggest purin – or the biggest ‘make your own purin’ kit – on the market. Check out the King Purin, our glorious leader of giant puddings.
It comes as a tub of instant purin powder, for you to add milk and mix. King Purin needs a little cooking on a low heat – some other brands don’t. When the mixture’s ready, pour it back into the container and leave it in the fridge for 10 hours to completely set.
But even the king isn’t top of the list for how big a pudding you can buy. ‘Bucket Purin’ is a registered trademark in Japan, held by the Sanmatei company. They’ve gone as far as making 6 litres, 12 litres, and even a 15-litre bucket of purin that costs almost 60,000 yen.
Pop culture = pudding culture
Did you know ‘Purin’ is the Japanese name for Jigglypuff? One of a whole bunch of Pokemon names that changed during the English translations.
There are some more obvious pudding-inspired characters – like Sanrio’s Pompompurin!
This custard-coloured dog (a soft little golden retriever) was born in 1996. He’s got a yellow purin body, and a brown caramel sauce hat. Pompompurin’s as popular as the dessert – he won the Sanrio Character Ranking in 2015 and 2016, and easily made the top 5 every year since.
And fans of ‘Japanese music/rhythm games that get turned into anime shows’ might already know about Idolish 7’s King Pudding, the fave of dessert lover Tamaki Yotsuba.
Not the same King Purin you can eat out of a bucket – not even close. It doesn’t have the facial hair and long arms, for a start. But to Ainana fans, this merch is delicious.
The proof is in the…
Okay, so maybe you can pick up a purin in your own country under another name. What about the kawaii pudding-themed character merch? That’s not as easy to scoop.
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