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Dango

Summer Food

Minazuki Wagashi ( the Japanese sweet to eat in June)

I have talked a little about minazuki in a previous post but I thought you might like to try making this Japanese wagashi for yourself. It’s really easy to make with a few ingredients. This wagashi is traditionally eaten on June 30th to ward of evil, ill health and bad luck for the second part of the year. The colour of minazuki is said to resemble ice to cool you from the hot summer heat.
This makes x4 triangle pieces.

You will need a square container around 4×4 inches and something to steam the wagashi in (I used a bamboo steamer)
You will also need:

15g of kuzu root ( if it is not in a powder and more in chunks crush into a powder)

15g of  glutinous rice flour ( the kind for making dango )

30g of sifted plain white flour

30g of unrefined caster sugar

100ml of water

x1 can of sweet red beans

Combine the kuzu powder and dango flour then add a little of the water to make a paste, then add the rest and mix together. Then add in your flour and sugar and mix to combine.
Fill your container with water and tip it out ( this will just stop your wagashi from sticking ) then fill your container with your mixture, keeping a few tablespoons for later.

Place your container in a steamer and steamer over simmering water for about 20 minutes.

After this time take out your container from the steamer and add around 3/4 of the can of your sweet red beans to the top, spreading them out. Add the few spoonfuls of remains mixture you saved over the beans and pop back in the steamer for a further 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in the fridge. I then cut the wagashi while it was still in the container into x4 triangles and eased out the first piece, once you have one out the others are easily removed. I wouldn’t recommend tipping it upside down as you may spoil the look of your minazuki.
There you have it. They are nice enjoyed with a matcha tea you could even dust the top with matcha or kinako if you like.

Blog, Spring Food

Micro Season Part 2 雨水 Usui Rainwater

雨水 Usui ( Rainwater )

The micro seasons for this part are as follows:

February 19–23 土脉潤起 Tsuchi no shō uruoi okoru. Rain moistens the soil.

February 24–28 霞始靆 Kasumi hajimete tanabiku. Mist starts to linger.

March 1–5 草木萌動 Sōmoku mebae izuru. Grass sprouts, trees bud.

At the start of spring in Japan before the cherry blossoms bloom another tree has its moment. For people in Japan this is just as imported. When the stunning  plum blossoms arrive it begins the arrival of spring by symbolising renewal and hope. One of the best places to view over 2000 ume trees is the Kitano Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto. They have a plum blossom festival which is held on February 25th the grounds are full with plum blossom and a special outdoor tea ceremony called Baikasai is held. Maiko serve hot matcha tea with wagashi ( Japanese sweets ) they also have a flea market at the same time.
This micro season couldn’t be passed by without talking about Hina matsuri on the 3rd of March. This is also known as dolls day or girls day. On this day parents celebrate their daughters happiness and good health. Traditionally when a girl is born parents or grand parents will buy a special set of Hina dolls, sometimes they are passed down from generations. These dolls are displayed in the house from the end of February until March 3rd. The dolls are a representation of the emperor and empress .

These are my friends Hina dolls that she has displayed in her house. Instagram (@dokodemotokyo)

Sometime girls will invite friends for a party and have traditional foods.
There are lots of foods associated with this time.
Temari sushi, decorated sushi balls take their name from the Temari balls children played with. Temari means hand balls and they are beautiful embroidered balls that are now normally used for decoration. These bit sized sushi balls are easy to make just search Temari sushi for instructions.

Sakura Mochi a traditional spring wagashi for Hinamatsuri and the coming Sakura seasons. Sakura Mochi is a Mochi rice cake with a sweet red bean paste filling and then wrapped in a salted pickled Sakura leaf. It’s a nice combination of sweet and salty. Just search Sakura Mochi for the recipe.


There are three colours associated with Hinamatsuri white for purification, green for health and pink for luck. Often you will see dango in these three colours which are popular at this time. These are also called hanami dango or Sanshoku dango. Just search dango for recipes.

Cherry blossom cookies are also a nice one to make. Recipe on this website.


Others are strawberry daifuku,cherry blossom rice balls,inari sushi and chirashi sushi (scattered sushi

This year I will be making a chirashi sushi which resembles a cake in the three spring colours known as Chakin sushi.
Seasoned sushi rice which you can either layer using the colours in-between or colour the rice. I like to use natural colours so I used beetroot juice for pink mixed into cooked sushi rice and matcha tea.  You can then add the toppings to the top of the rice cake.
I think this would be a lovely one for a party or gathering.


You could even make mini ones cup cake style or make three layer onigiri.


I also decided to make onigiri in the shape of Hina dolls.

If you would like to see things I have made in previous years just search Hina matsuri, I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own celebration.

As I have no children it has also been suggested to me that girls day is a nice day to spend with girl friends or sisters. Maybe if you have no girl children you could plan a day out or go for a meal or celebrate women in general.

 

 

 

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Japanese Micro Season Part 15 Hakuro

In the next part of Japanese micro seasons we talk about the next set of micro seasons Hakuro meaning white dew breaks down into three parts 8-12 of September Kusa no tsuyu shiroshi ( dew glistens white on grass. 13-17 of September Sekireinaku ( wagtails sing  ) and 18-22 September Tsubame saru ( swallows leave ).

The last one for me is very significant, I always feel the arrival of the swallows marks the start of summer and the swallows leaving definitely means autumn has arrived.

Also during this micro season is the moon viewing festival in Japan called Tsukimi or Otsukimi, it can also be known by the name Jugoya.

It is a time when the Japanese honour the autumn moon and give gratitude for a good harvest. Traditionally offerings are made of seasonal produce like chestnuts, persimmon and kabocha. Rice dumplings ( dango balls ) are made representing the full moon. Eating these are considered auspicious and are said to bring health and happiness . Display 12 one for each month. Pampas grass ( Susuki ) is also displayed at this time. Another symbol of Tsukimi is the rabbit. Japanese people say they see the shape of a rabbit pounding Mochi with a mallet in the moon, unlike others that may see a face in the moon often referred to as the man in the moon.

There is a little pottery store in Kyoto down Pontocho Alley in Kyoto. I’m not sure of the name of the store but the store sells nothing but rabbit items . Maybe it is called simply Usagi ( meaning rabbit in Japanese.) I picked up this rabbit dish last time I was there.

The word Tsukimi is also referred to for dishes that have a raw egg yolk in them like Tsukimi soba. This one is my vegan version using grated daikon and kabocha.

Many places in Japan 2019 will be holding special moon viewing events this year. Himeji castle Sept 13th, Tokyo Sky Tree will be holding events through Sept and Oct. Sankein garden in Yokohama will be holding events between the 12th and 16th of Sept and Ise shrine will be holding an event on the 13th sept.

Will you be attending any moon viewing events or maybe you could quietly do something at home. Weather your in Japan or not why not pay homage to the harvest full moon and welcome autumn with the changing seasons.

Lovely Seasonal Continue reading…

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

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.

 

 

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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.