Tag

Anko

Blog, Summer Food

Yama no Hi

Yama no Hi ( mountain day ) is japans newest public holiday, only starting in 2016. Much like marine day another public holiday is for taking the opportunity to appreciate the ocean this holiday is to honour the Japanese landscape with its many mountains and volcanoes. Mountain day normally falls on August 11th the reason this day was chosen is that the kanji for the eighth month looks like a mountain 八 and the number 11 signifies two trees. If this day falls on a Sunday the following Monday is observed. This year the date has been changed to coincide with the closing of the 2021 Olympics. With over 73% of Japan being mountainous if you have ever been to Japan I’m sure you have either visited, hiked or at least seen one mountain when you have been there. Mt Takao is one of the easiest mountains to visit from Tokyo and is the most visited mountain in the world with around 2.6 million every year, Mt Fuji is the most climbed in the world with 300,000 people climbing the sacred mountain each year in the short period between July and August. I have visited Mt Fuji a few times on my trips to Japan and finally on my last trip back in December  2018 was actually able to see it with out clouds covering it.


I also went to Mt Kurama by taking the Eizan Kurama line from Denmachi-Yanagi station which takes around an hour to reach Kuruma a rural town in the northern mountains of Kyoto city. Kurama-dera temple is a Buddhist temple located on the steep wooded mountainside, it takes about 45 minutes to climb up the mountain to the temple, there is also a cable car going up ( one way ) to part of the way there if you wish to take it.


Known for its spirituality and breathtaking natural beauty, it is the birthplace of the holistic healing art of Reiki and is said to be the home of Sojobo king of tengu. Tengu are long nosed legendary creatures found in Japanese folk stories that represent the mysterious power of the mountains and are believed to be the mountains guardians. You will find a large Tengu statue at Kurama station.


The temple is also associated with the annual fire festival which takes place in October. As you climb up the mountain you will come across Yuki Shrine which has a 800 year old towering cedar tree, it is believed if you pray to this tree with all your heart your wish will come true.


I visited this temple on a very cold December day, as we climbed  flurries of snow started to fall and a temple gong could be heard. I can’t explain the feeling this temple gave me it was such a profound feeling of spirituality. I do not have any reiki training but if anyone is sick I often try to think of this temple and the healing energies I felt and try and send it to that person.


From Kurama-dera temple you can normally take a hiking trail which continues on through the forest for about one hour which leads to Kifune shrine. However there had been particularly bad typhoons and the path had been closed so I went back down the mountain and followed the river up passing places which are popular to stop at in the summer to enjoy the natural beauty and escape from the heat with a cold drink.


As it was winter all these places were closed and I carried on until I reached the well worn flight of stone steps lined with red wooden lanterns which lead up to Kifune-jinja (also known as Kibune). This shrine is dedicated to the god of water and rain the source of life energy.


Another mountain I have visited is Mt Rokko accessed by the Shin Kobe ropeway which offers panoramic views of the city as you climb up the mountain. When you reach the top there is japans largest herb garden with around 75,000 herbs and flowers plus spectacular views out to Kobe.



Did you know that the popular Japanese snack onigiri which can be round, barrel or triangle shaped, when shaped into a triangle represents a mountain ? It is said when you eat it you are taking on the power of the mountain?
I found this out watching the NHK anime series Kiyo in Kyoto about two friends in a maiko house and the food that is prepared.

They actually discussed another onigiri from Yamaguchi prefecture which is coated in kinako soy bean flour and another similar one which had azuki beans then rolled in kinako originating from Kyoto. These onigiri are very similar to the Japanese wagashi ohagi.
With that in mind I decided to make a special mountain day Ohagi onigiri to represent Mt Fuji.

I used a mix of sweet Mochi rice and Japanese rice but I didn’t pound it sticky I just kept the rice grains intact. Inside each I put some sweet red beans and then rolled the onigiri in black sesame and kinako.


Maybe you could make onigiri to take on a walk or hike for mountain day to enjoy at the summit, or just relax with a tea at home.

Here are some more onigiri ideas to inspire you or just search onigiri and find more on my recipe pages.


Blog, Summer Food

Mizu Yokan 水ようかん

Mizu Yokan (水ようかん)

As the name suggests this red bean jelly yokan is a Japanese summer wagashi that has a higher water (mizu) content than the regular Yokan you may have tried. Serve chilled its sweet, light and perfect for summertime with a sencha tea.

To make this I used a smooth bean paste called Koshian こしあん.

Last year I decided to buy a Japanese stainless steel mold with a removable inner tray called Nagashikan (流し缶). Perfect for making  Kanten Jelly or Yokan I bought it from my favourite place to buy Japanese kitchen utensils global-kitchen they are great for all your kitchen items and most are made in japan . Like this stainless steel mold made by the Shimotori Corporation which was founded in 1955 in Tsubame, Niigata, the center of cutlery and steel manufacturing.

Every time I have ordered from them the items arrive so quick direct from japan . You can check them out on Instagram and they have a link on there direct to their website. I have not been sponsored by this company. 

I have also seen these yokan poured into bamboo cups served at tea houses in Kyoto. It’s so easy to make with just a few ingredients. 

All you need is one cup of cold water added to a pan then add one teaspoon of agar agar powder whisk and bring the water to a boil simmer for a few minutes to dissolve the agar agar then turn off the heat. Spoon in 200g of smooth bean paste and keep stirring until the bean paste has dissolved add a pinch of salt mix in and your done ! Then pour into your Nagashikan if you don’t have one you could use a plastic container. However I decided last summer to invest in one as it makes making things like my coffee jelly so much easier. Leave it to cool then put in the fridge to set.

The Nagashikan will slice it for you into individual pieces.

I served mine with a dusting of soy bean powder ( kinako ) matcha is  nice also.

As this wagashi is so sweet it best served with a green tea to balance out the flavours. Delicious for a Japanese summer tea time.


Why not take it one step further and cut your yokan into smaller pieces, It’s delicious served up with soy cream.

Or try it with soft Shiratama dango and kuromitsu (black sugar syrup) made from Okinawan sugar .

Just two tablespoons of powdered sugar combined with two teaspoons of water. Heat in the microwave for one minute or in a pan, then leave to cool. If you can’t get the okinawan sugar you can use molasses thinned with a little water.

 

 

 

 

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food, Winter Food

Japanese Bread recipe for Vegan Shokupan, Anpan & Melonpan

Japanese bread is known for its light and fluffy texture, this is because the ingredients used are slightly different to that of bread you might be used to.
While I’ve been in Japan I have never tried the bread as unless you find a vegan bakery the bread will probably not be vegan. Over the last few years ( whilst most of us have been unable to travel ) some new vegan bakeries have been popping up in Tokyo which I can’t wait to try when we can safely travel again.
I decided I wanted to try making Japanese milk bread for myself at home and yes it does take a bit of effort but the rewards are great. This recipe  has produced the milkiest buttery soft bread. I have used the same bread recipe in all three breads, adding anko inside the anpan and adding a cookie layer to the melon pan.

There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread but this Japanese Shokupan I made filled the kitchen with a sweet buttery smell. Shokupan 食パン Japanese milk bread is  sometimes called Hokkaido milk bread.

This bread is so soft and fluffy and has a mochi-like texture this is due to using something called the Yudane method which originated in Japan. This is done by mixing bread flour and hot boiling water. Also I used heated bonsoy milk and vegan butter from Naturli.

Lets make Japanese milk bread !

Gather your ingredients:

400grm bread flour ( this is better for a high protein to develop  the gluten) you can try using Gluten free flour but I am unsure how your bread will turn out. I used doves farm organic bread flour. You will also need another 4 tablespoons later on when making the bread, so put this in a separate bowl with a tablespoon to hand for later.

Pour into a measuring jug 200ml of Bonsoy ( I recommend this soymilk as it has a higher soybean content ) Japanese soy milk is normally better quality but try to get the best soy milk you can.

Then take out x3 tablespoons of the soymilk and put this in a bowl for later to use as a  glaze, you will also need to add x1 teaspoon of maple syrup to the x3 tablespoon soy milk mix to combine and set aside.

Now heat up the remaining  milk in the microwave for 45 seconds, then add the yeast to activate, mix and leave for ten minutes.

60grm of Vegan butter ( I used Naturli )    Room temperature
1/2 a teaspoon of salt ( I used Himalayan pink salt)
3 tablespoons of granulated unrefined sugar.
2 teaspoons of instant yeast (I used doves farm)
You will need two mixing bowls a loaf tin and wire rack

When you have your dry ingredients ready empty  400grms of flour into one of the mixing bowls. Add to this your salt and sugar. Mix to combine.
Boil a kettle of water and start to add 8 tablespoons of boiling water to your flour mixture using a cutting method this should make what’s called a shaggy dough.


Now that your yeast has been activated ( it should float to the top of the milk like this if not it’s old yeast.)

Give the milk and yeast a stir and start to combine it into your shaggy dough. Start to combine it to form a sticky dough ball.
At this point take one of the extra tablespoons of flour and put this in your second clean bowl. Put your dough into the bowl and start to knead until it comes together if it’s still a little wet add a little more flour. Take out the dough and put it on a work surface and flatten it out, slice up your butter and put in the middle of your dough and fold the dough over the butter.



Now have your 3 tablespoons of flour to hand with a spoon next to your bowl.
Transfer the dough back into your bowl and start to knead it. THIS IS MESSY for a short while. As you start to knead and the butter starts to ooze out gradually add your flour as you knead. I’ve found from making this bread that this really helps. When your bread starts to come together into a lovely soft dough, take it out the bowl and start to vigorously knead it on a surface for at least ten minutes ( this will give you a work out lol ).
When your dough is nice and elastic form it into a ball and pop it in a clean bowl covered with a clean tea towel and place somewhere warm for at least an hour for the dough to double in size but this will depend on how warm the place is.



The best place I’ve found was a nice sunny windowsill under a radiator with the heating on. You could use a warm airing cupboard or place your bowl on the oven door with the oven on if you haven’t got anywhere else.
It’s at this point if your making melon pan you can make your cookie topping see melon pan recipe further down the page.

When your dough is ready remove it from the bowl and give it another knead for five minutes. Then form into a ball and cut in two.

(if making anpan or melon pan follow those recipes from now on)

Flatten each section out into a rectangle and fold the sides in on itself then flatten out with a rolling pin to a long shape and roll it up ( see pictures below ).

Melt a little coconut  oil or neutral oil and brush generously the inside of your loaf pan. Place each roll either side like this.

Then again cover with a tea towel and put back in your warm place until they have puffed up . Around half – one hour.


Preheat your oven moderate temperature around 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F .

When this is ready give your bowl of milk and maple syrup a mix and brush it over the top of your bread dough.

This will give the dough a lovely glaze and slightly crusty texture on the top. Place in the  oven and bake for around 30-35 minutes I normally check in on it around 25 minutes to see how it looks. Take it out the oven and allow to cool a little before tipping it out on a wire rack to cool.

As a tip I often make this bread late afternoon and allow it to cool over night completely covering it over before I go to bed. It’s much easier to cut and you have a fresh slice of shokupan for breakfast the next day.


Shokupan is also a great sandwich bread often used for classic Japanese sandwiches like fruit sando
フルーツサンド katsu sando カツサンド and Tamago Sando たまごサンド (egg sandwich).

Also delicious toasted with vegan butter and fresh jam or why not try one of my favourites Ogura Toast 小倉トースト toast with red bean jam a cafe specialty of Nagoya.

The perfect start to the day.

Anpan

If you would like to make anpan which is bread filled with anko ( red bean paste. You can buy either chunky bean paste (tsubuan) or smooth   (Koshian) from Asian grocery stores. I sometimes easily make my own ahead of time the day before by using my quick method. Just use one drained and rinsed tin of azuki beans added to a pan with water and 200grm of granulated sugar. I just let them boil down and mash them.

Afterwards transfer to a container and chill in the fridge to harden.


Make the bread as above but instead of cutting the dough into two cut it into 6-8 pieces depending on how big you want your rolls. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten out. Put a small ball of anko inside and fold the dough back over.


Place the rolls on a baking sheet with parchment paper, cover with a clean towel and proof your dough  so they have puffed up in size then glaze the tops with your soy milk/maple glaze before popping them in the oven. Rolls take a little less time around 20-25 minutes.

Melon Pan

A classic Japanese Soft, fluffy sweet bread covered in a thin layer of crisp cookie crust.

There are many theories why this bread is called Melon Pan . Maybe it’s because it looks like a cut cantaloupe melon but traditionally there is no melon inside.

Nowadays some bakeries have started to put melon purée in side or chocolate chips. Some even use matcha to give you that melon appearance.

Again make your bread as above like you would make shokupan  anpan. Then while the rolls are proofing for the first time  make your cookie crust.

Ingredients :

one tin of chickpeas. Drain the chickpeas and keep the liquid ( you can use the chickpeas for another meal ) you will need x3 tablespoons of chick pea liquid known as aquafaba. This will be your egg replacement. I like to use this over say flax seeds, fruit purée or banana as it has little taste.

60grm of vegan butter
8 tablespoons of unrefined granulated sugar  plus  another tablespoon in a separate bowl to dip the dough balls in.
150grm of plain all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

Cream together the sugar and butter then mix in the x3 tablespoons of chick pea water. Sift in your flour and baking powder and mix into a dough. Roll into a ball.  Place in the fridge for 30 mins so it’s easier to roll. When your bread has proofed for the first time and you have kneaded it again make it into rolls by cutting a ball of dough into 6-8 pieces. I sometimes weigh the balls to make sure they are even sizes. Roll the pieces into balls and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut your cookie dough into equal portions for your bread rolls. Roll into balls and flatten out. Take each flattened cookie portion in your hand and put a dough ball inside.

Fold the cookie over the dough ball, dip the cookie portion into granulated sugar.

Then with a knife make a criss cross pattern in the dough, do this with all the remaining dough balls.


Then proof your cookie dough balls for your second proof so they puff up in size. Bake in your preheated moderate oven like the anpan.
Cool on a wire rack.

I know that making any of these breads can take a bit of time to do. I would recommend that you fit in making them while your doing other things at home, because you have to leave the breads a few times to proof for a few hours this gives you time to get on with other jobs around the house.
Hope you try making these delicious breads for yourself for a little taste of Japan at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog, Spring Food

Micro Season Part 4 春分 Shunbun (Spring equinox)

春分 Shunbun (Spring equinox)
March 21-25 雀始巣 Suzume hajimete sukū Sparrows start to nest 

March 26-30 櫻始開 Sakura hajimete saku First cherry blossom

March 31-April 4 雷乃発声 Kaminari sunawachi koe o hassu distant thunder.

Nature waits for no one, the seasons keep on turning no matter what else is going on in the world. I have been watching a pair of robins in my garden for the last few weeks hastily gathering to make a nest. The buds on my Sakura tree are about to burst open into bloom but the world at the moment is in so much distress.
Even though the micro season date for cherry blossom blooming is the 26th they have already started in Tokyo. Cherry blossom season in Tokyo is governed by one tree in the Yasukuni shrine. It is called the Metropolitan Index tree. Last week saw the first flower bud open.


Soon all the Sakura will be open in Japan .

Depending on where in Japan they are it can be now or a bit later in May for places like Hokkaido.
Many people’s trips and celebrations will be cancelled this year including my own trip which was supposed to be in May. The wisteria and the Sakura will flower and drop anyway and so it goes on.
I remember my trip to Japan in cherry blossom season, I think it was one of the most memorable times of my life. I was so over come with how beautiful the trees were and when the warm breeze blew the petals off the trees they would flutter to the ground like snow.

The spring Equinox in Japan is known as Higan or in the spring Haru no Higan. It is a Buddhist festival, and a traditional confection is made for the equinox, in the spring it is called Botamochi and in the autumn it is called ohagi. Botamochi is named after the tree peony Botan. In the autumn ohagi is named after the clover bush hagi.

I always make this wagashi every year this year I made Botamochi in the three spring colours and displayed them like a dango. They are made with pounded sweet Mochi rice with a red bean filling . If you would like to make them yourself you can find the recipe in the Spring recipe section.

I hope if your plans for hanami celebrations or your trips to Japan are cancelled that maybe you can like me make some Japanese food to help you feel closer to Japan.

When things are finally balanced again in the world I will see Japan again.

Blog, Spring Food

Micro Season Part 1 立春 Risshun (Beginning of spring)

I actually started writing about micro seasons half way through the 24 seasonal divisions back at the beginning of autumn Risshu. Now we are entering Risshun the beginning of Spring. Did you celebrate Setsubun yesterday? I talked about this in my last micro season post.
This micro season is broken down into three subdivisions.

February 4–8 東風解凍 Harukaze kōri o toku East wind melts the ice
February 9–13 黄鶯睍睆 Kōō kenkan su Bush warblers start singing in the mountains
February 14–18 魚上氷 Uo kōri o izuru Fish emerge from the ice

This is an important time for farmers in Japan especially tea farmers, because it is the first of the 24 divisions in the solar calendar it is considered the start of life and from this day 88 days are counted until the first tea picking, so Risshun is used as a reference point.
With the term Risshun comes Haru Matsuri or spring festival, and it’s definitely a positive sign. Bulbs and flowers are starting to push through the frosty earth and the birds are getting busy looking for potential nest sites.
You can feel a glimpse of spring now.
In Japan you might start to see plum blossoms blooming or hear the call of the male (uguisu) bush warbler (Japanese nightingale).

The bush warbler or Uguisu is a little green bird and at this time wagashi shops start to sell Uguisu Mochi . A chubby cake similar to the shape of the bird. It is a Mochi rice cake filled with red bean paste and dusted in green kinako made from the freshest soy beans.
I decided to make this as I had some Uguisu kinako which is the name given to the green soy bean flour.


I made it with Shiratama rice flour and inside was home made bean paste.


I feel like a little bit of Japanese springtime has arrived in my home.

Blog, Winter Food

Kuromame Daifuku Mochi

I went to a new year mochi pounding this January which was then made into Mochi with sweet red bean paste and was served to the spectators.


Mochi is often eaten as a symbol of long life in Japan and the breaking and eating of the Kagami Mochi ( known as Kagami Biraki ) see other posts for more information on this, is a ritual celebrating the transition to a new stage in life.
The 13th of January this year in Japan is coming of age day Seijin Shiki 成人式. It is held on the second Monday in January and is the day when people in Japan that turned 20 the previous year are now welcomed into society as an adult. It may be common to see people in elaborate costumes visiting shrines to pray for health and success.

Inspired by seeing the Mochi pounding I decided to try making my own Mochi which is the symbol of longevity as it’s so stretchy  and make kuromame Daifuku. Daifuku translates to great luck and the sweet black soy beans are a symbol of good health and are eaten as part of new year food (osechi).

Daifuku is a Japanese wagashi ( sweet ) consisting of a small round glutinous rice cake stuffed with sweet filling, most commonly anko sweetened red bean paste made from azuki beans.

These are the ingredients I used which I bought easily from the Japan centre Asian food super market in London, they also sell on line.

 

Top row: Potato starch powder 150g, Hashimoto Tsubuan chunky red bean paste 350g ( both originating from Hokkaidō ).
Bottom row : Hakubai sweet Mochi rice 2.27 Kg  ( this is a big bag but is perfect for making ohagi / Botamochi for spring / autumn equinox for which I have recipes. Finally Shiga Shoten Tambaguro kuromame simmered black soy beans 150g

First wash and soak over night one rice cooker cup of sweet Mochi rice. In the morning cook the rice in your rice cooker or pan with two rice cooker cups of water. A rice cooker cup is what comes with a rice cooker if you do not have one 1 rice cooker cup equates to 3/4 of a normal measuring cup or 180ml .
After your rice is cooked keep the lid on and steam for a further ten minutes. Transfer the cooked rice into a bowl or Suribachi ( grinding bowl) and start pounding your rice with something like a rolling pin or something like a surikogi which is the mortar part of a pestle and mortar. Keep wetting the end as it will start to get very sticky indeed !
When its all smooth and stretchy dust a work surface or board with potato starch and tip the Mochi out. Dust your hand with potato starch as this will stop your hands sticking to the mochi  then knead the mochi in the potato starch and pull off pieces about the size of a heaped tablespoon. Flatten it out and add your sweet black soy beans and a ball of anko in the middle.

Fold the mochi with the circle of soy beans over the anko to make a ball. Shape and it’s done.


This was the first time I have ever made these and the more you do the better at it you become. I was really pleased how they turned out. Serve with a matcha tea to celebrate a long and healthy life

( no matter if your celebrating coming of age day, life is a celebration  ! )

Autumn Food, Blog

Japanese Micro Season Part 16 Autumn Equinox & Making Ohagi


We are now heading in to the shorter days of Autumn. Monday the 23rd is the Autumn Equinox. In Japanese micro season it is known as Shūbun. This season is broken into three parts.

September the 23rd-27th Kaminari sunawachi  koe o osamu ( thunder ceases )

September the 28th- October 2nd Mushi Kakurete to o fusagu ( insects hole up underground )

October 3rd-7th Mizu hajimete karuru. ( farmers drain the fields )

The equinoxes are a special time for Buddhists they believe that this is when the worlds between the living and dead are at their thinnest, thus at this time people pay respects to the deceased .

This is also part of the silver week holiday in Japan starting with Respect the aged day  and finishing on equinox day.

Buddhists call Autumn Equinox O-Higan or Aki no Higan, and it is tradition to make ohagi at the time a type of Japanese wagashi (sweet) Ohagi おはぎ is named after the Japanese clover bush and these sweets are sometimes also taken to ancestors graves at this time as offerings. They are really delicious and so easy and fun to make.

To celebrate why don’t you try to make them. They are made with sweet half pounded ( hangoroshi ) Mochi rice with an anko filling and rolled in various toppings like kinako and ground sesame. You can also do a reverse one where the rice is the filling and the anko is on the outside. You can either buy chunky bean paste called Tsubuan in packets at Asian grocery store or make your own.

The above shows Mochi rice and bought and homemade tsubuan.

You will need 1 rice cooker cup of sushi rice and 1 cup Mochi rice (Mochimai). First give the rice a good rinse changing the water until in runs clean. Soak your rice in four cups of water over night and then cook in your rice cooker or pan. This does make a lot of ohagi so you can either freeze them or just use half the amounts 1/2 cup sushi rice 1/2 cup Mochi rice and two cups of water. Through experience if your rolling your ohagi in toppings do this after you have defrosted them.

When the rice is done mash your rice but not fully so you still have some grain and leave to cool covered with a cloth so it doesn’t dry out. Divide into balls and flatten out. It is advisable to use plastic wrap but if you don’t want to just have damp hands and a wet clean cloth to hand. In the middle of each flattened ball add a ball of anko and then fold the rice over the anko to make a sealed ball. Carry on making until all are done.

If you want to make inverted ohagi make small balls of rice and add this to the middle of larger flattened balls of tsubuan.

Now choose what you would like to roll your ohagi in . Powdered black sesame ( kurogoma ), kinako ( soybean flour ), sesame seeds mixed with sugar or maybe matcha.

How about making Kurumi which is powdered walnuts with sugar. The balls of sticky rice become easier to mould into balls after they have been rolled in the topping.

They make lovely gifts and are perfect with a green tea.

I know I will be making them to enjoy with a tea while looking out onto my already changing colours of maples in my garden. In Japan they won’t be changing just yet people in Japan will have to wait until late October, November to do what’s called momijigari or autumn leaf hunting which is as much a custom as hanami flower viewing in the spring.

Kyoto

Inokashira park Tokyo

Blog, Spring Food

Sakura Season Dango

One of the best memories I have in my life is visiting Japan at Sakura season.

If  you have never been lucky enough to witness it,seeing the blossom and the way people in Japan celebrate Hanami is just breathtaking.

I think I miss Japan the most at this time of year.  I always like to celebrate Japanese customs and traditions it helps me feel close to Japan  when I cannot be there.

How about making some tofu dango and sit with these and a bento under the blossoms and if like me you cannot be there just dream you are.

To make these three colour dango which signify purification,health and luck you will need shiratama flour and a carton of silken tofu, I used Clearspring organic tofu.  First drain you tofu and section into three equal pieces and divide into three bowls. Next add colouring to two bowls I used matcha for green and natural beetroot juice for pink. Cream the tofu in each bowl then to each one start to add your shiratama flour. Keep adding until it is a stiff dough ( people say to think of what an ear lope feels like and this is what dango should feel like when you press it ) Heat up a pan of boiling water and drop in your dango balls when they float to the top they are done,scoop them out and drop into iced water. Pat them dry and slide them onto skewers. These are delicious dipped into kinako (soy bean flour ) I actually had green kinako which symbolises the spring green bush warbler bird (uguisu).

Enjoy with a Sakura tea.

Happy Hanami

Blog, Spring Food

Spring Equinox Botamochi

Happy spring equinox !

幸せな春分

The bi-annual days of the vernal equinox (spring equinox) are  upon us. In Japan it is a Buddhist festival known as higan. In the spring it is known as haru no higan .

To celebrate I made Botamochi but this year instead of the traditional confectionery made of sweet mochi rice pounded and shaped with a red bean centre . I made them with pounded millet. I noticed that when I made my awa-zenzai (see my awa-zenzai post ) that the millet served its self well to making Ohagi. 

I rolled them in kinako and ground black sesame. 

It is traditional to take these with flowers and incense to the graves of ancestors at this time.

In the spring the sweets are called Botamochi named after the tree peony botan . In the fall the same sweets are called ohagi named after the clover bush hagi.

See some of my other  posts of Ohagi or botamochi for the recipe. 

I also made the more traditional sweet . Which you can get tye recipe for by searching Ohagi or Botamochi.  If you want to make around 6 sweets just half my recipe.

Blog, Spring Food

Sakura Mochi

Sakura Mochi a traditional spring wagashi made  for Hinamatsuri and also to celebrate spring and the coming Sakura season.

There are three colours associated with the girls day festival .  White is for purification, green for health and pink for luck. I made Sakura Mochi in the three colours. Sakura Mochi is Mochi  rice cake with a sweet red bean paste filling and wrapped in a salted pickled Sakura leaf and topped with a salted Sakura flower. They are a nice combination of sweet and salty. Perfect with a green tea.

The recipe is basically the same as my ohagi recipe. If you live outside of japan you may not be able to get the leaves and blossom so easily although you maybe able to order them online from www.souschef.co.uk

I used matcha to colour the rice green and beetroot juice for the pink.

Why not try making Sakura Mochi to celebrate spring.

Autumn Food, Blog

Kabocha Shiratama Dango

I often make tofu dango (shitatama rice flour and silken tofu ). It got me thinking about if I could use pumpkin to make a Halloween dango. So I thought I’d give it a try . Being a recipe creator is all about trying out new ideas in the kitchen. These kabocha dango turned out amazing. Soft and chewy mochi balls on a bed of sweet bean paste and dusted with kinako and ground black sesame. What a perfect Japanese wagashi treat for Halloween.

I started out by steaming some kabocha and when it was cool enough I removed the skin and gave it a mash in a bowl.

Add one heaped tablespoon of pumpkin with three tablespoons of Shiratama rice flour,half a teaspoon of maple syrup and a drop of water to help bind. Cream everything together until you have a dough ball about the size of a tennis ball. Break off pieces and roll them in your hands do not make them too big as they will not cook through.

You should have enough to make three skewers each one having three dango. Boil a pot of water and drop the balls into the water,when they are done they will float to the top. I always leave them that extra min. Scoop out the balls and drop into ice cold water. Pat them dry and put them through the skewers. Top with what ever you fancy.

Happy Halloween.

 

 

Blog

Otsukimi ( moon viewing festival )

Tsukimi or otsukimi お月見 is the Japanese autumn moon viewing festival . The moons round shape is the symbol for fertility and at this time people pray for a good harvest. The date varies each year 2018  will be on September 24th. Japanese people display pampas grass known as susuki in their homes as a symbol of good luck and  make Tsukimi dango, rice-flour dumplings, because it looks similar to a full moon. After offering them to the moon, Japanese people eat the Tsukimi dango in order to obtain good health and happiness. Other foods which are associated with Tsukimi include chestnuts, known as “kuri” in Japanese, and taro, known as “sato imo”, in Japanese, as well as kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) and persimmons ( kaki ).

You will often see the rabbit depicted at this time as Japanese people see a rabbit in the moon pounding Mochi rice not a man in the moon. 

Why not celebrate the autumn moon festival and make some dango search mitarashi dango. 

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Chestnut Autumn Wagashi

This is a simple wagashi for autumn made of only three ingredients,chestnuts,sugar and koshian a smooth sweet bean paste.

First either roast and shell your chestnuts or like I did you can buy them already done in packets like this.

You will need around 15 whole chestnuts,add these to a bowl and start to mash them if you have a suribachi ( mortar and pestle ) use that. I used the flat end of a rolling pin to mash my chestnuts. Add to this two tablespoons of organic unrefined cane sugar and cream the sugar into the chestnut mash. Then divide your mash into three and put in separate plastic wrap roll into a ball and flatten out. Undo your wrap and in the middle of each place a ball of your bean paste. Gather up the sides of your flattened chestnut and make sure you cover the bean paste roll up in plastic wrap again to shape. I dipped mine in some sesame seeds for extra flavour and to make them look pretty but you don’t have to do this.

Lovely served with green tea as they are very sweet.