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Rice

Summer Food

Hiyajiru ( cold summer soup ) & Kohaku-Kan ( Brown Sugar kanten jelly )

Even though there is still ranging heat in Japan I am beginning to see a shift in the seasons here in the UK. The nights are getting shorter and the weather cooler. The swallows are getting ready to migrate and the fields are being harvested. With that said I wanted to make one final summer Japanese dish before I start to think about heading over to making autumn meals.
This is something I have tried making in the past but it didn’t turn out to my liking but when I saw an NHK programme dining with the chef I knew I could try to make a vegan version.

Hiyajiru is a Japanese cold summer soup with rice. Traditionally with flaked mackerel and miso. Instead of the mackerel I decided to use flakes of jackfruit with aonori seaweed mixed in.

First you need to make a dashi, soak a small piece of kombu kelp for a few hours in 150ml of cold water, after bring the water to a simmer over a medium heat for ten minutes ( do not boil) then remove the kombu.

Add to the water, 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce or tamari and mirin then chill in the fridge.

Make some Japanese rice in advance and tip out into a bowl and allow to cool. I used 1 rice cooker cup – 2 rice cooker cups of water.

Emty the contents out of a tin of jackfruit rinse and drain, you will only need to use half a tin so transfer the other half to a container to use in something else ( you could try one of my other recipes like vegan crab sushi). To the other half of the drained jackfruit add a teaspoon of aonori.

Finely grate a 1 inch piece of peeled ginger.
Slice in half a bulb of myoga ginger and finely slice.                            Slice into rounds a two inch piece of Japanese cucumber, or similar.  Half a lemon length ways and remove the skin and any seeds and dice into small cubes.
Chop half a green onion.

You will also need miso around one tablespoon, about a heaped teaspoon of vegan butter and a tablespoon of ground sesame.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the grated ginger and green onion and sauté, then add the jackfruit and miso keep stirring as it burns easily, add the ground sesame and stir in. Sauté for a few minutes then transfer to a dish, add your cubes of lemon and put in the fridge to cool.

Make a ball with your rice ( to fit in the middle of your bowl ) press the rice so it doesn’t fall apart. Pour around the rice your chilled dashi and then add around your rice slices of cucumber and myoga ginger. Finally top the rice with your jackfruit miso mixture, and maybe some sliced shiso leaves. Then add any remaining dashi over the rice. Eat by taking a little rice, mixture and dashi in each spoonful.


Hiyajiru is the signature dish from Miyazaki in southern Japan and  has been selected as one of the top 100 countryside recipes making it the perfect summer meal as temperatures rise.

For dessert why not make Kohaku-kan brown sugar jelly.

Kohaku-kan mean amber relating to the colour of the jelly.

For the jelly we use Kanten which is made from seaweed and traditionally you would use raw cane sugar but I am using coconut palm sugar. This dessert is so easy and quick to make.

Depending on how many people you are making it for just double the recipe. This makes two servings if you decide to put the jelly with other things like sweet red beans and fruit.

For the jelly
125ml cold water

1.5 gram of powdered kanten

30 grams of coconut palm sugar
Plus a small container to pour the jelly into around 3×3 inch

You will also need to make kuromitsu which is a brown sugar syrup, simply made with brown sugar and a little water heated in a pan until it thickens and if you wish some sweet azuki beans to add over your jelly plus any fruit of choice. I added a few pomegranate seeds.

Add kanten to a pan with the cold water and stir to dissolve. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil then turn the heat to a simmer until the liquid looks clearer, then add your sugar and mix in. Turn up the heat and wait until your mixture starts to bubble then turn off the heat.

To a large bowl add some iced water then fit a small bowl inside. Pour your sugar jelly Into the empty bowl this will help to cool it down. Keep stirring this will stop the sugar sinking, when it starts to set at the edges pour into your mould. Allow to cool at room temperature then set in the fridge for a few hours.

Loosen the edges and tip out onto a plate and cut into squares.

Serve in a glass dish or bowl, with sweet azuki beans and pour over kuromitsu.

There you have it Hiyajiru cold summer soup and Kohaku-kan sugar jelly dessert

Let’s say goodbye to the summer and welcome in the new season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Yoshoku Caponata

A few years ago I had Caponata in a vegan cafe in Tokyo. Caponata is actually a Sicilian dish and is basically an eggplant hotpot stew. I decided to to make this recipe with a Japanese fusion. When you do this it is called a Yoshoku meaning western Japanese food. I set out to make this sweet and sour Sicilian classic using some Japanese ingredients.

The first thing is salted eggplant, I sliced 1/2 an eggplant in to thick rounds and then divided them into quarters. I then rubbed in Shio koji which is a fermented condiment in Japan made from salted rice malt.


I left the eggplant for ten minutes then added it to a pan with some olive oil and started to sauté. Then I added a stick of celery chopped finely and half a chopped onion. Then I added a tablespoon of mirin, Japanese brown rice vinegar and sugar along with a tablespoon of Yuzu juice. The Yuzu juice will give the sauce a nice citrus taste, I then added one tin of chopped tomatoes. Capers are normally added to this recipe so instead I added a teaspoon of sansho berries. Sansho is a Japanese pepper the green berries come precooked in a jar. They have a citrus fragrance the green berries are a quintessential spring Kyoto being used in the autumn ground into powdered spice.

I then added a tablespoon each of pitted black and green olives and turned down the heat of the pan put on the lid and let in gently simmer for 30 mins.

This dish is very versatile can be eaten over rice Caponata donburi, or cold on a crusty sourdough. How about using it as a topping for jacket potato or pasta, even as an inari filling.

Here I have served it with rice and a salad. Finishing off with a sprinkle of pine nuts some lemon rind and basil.


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

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories Plum Rice Ball

Episode 3 of season 2 sees Master the owner of the diner Meishiya make plum rice balls for a customer. The series is so heart warming and shows how food has the ability to not only to connect people but to bring back memories. One such memory for me was one Marine day ( a public holiday held on third Monday in July in Japan where many people head off to the coast). We had started our train journey over to Enoshima island in Kanagawa Prefecture and there were lots of families on the train. On the opposite seat was a family the mother got out a neatly packed bento and untied the furoshiki around it. Opening the lid she started to take out onigiri those triangle shaped rice balls wrapped in nori sometimes with a filling, she handed them to her children. The onigiri filled the hands of the small children and I remember how happy there faces were to be eating such a breakfast on the way to the seaside. Onigiri ( rice balls ) are perfect for picnics or in the case of the Midnight diner an evening snack.
The pickled plums used in the series were the hard type called Ko ume, as I only had umeboshi I used those instead. Umeboshi are slightly squashy which are dried and salted plums. They are tart and tangy and I must admit to not liking them at first but now I love them. They have been used in Japan to aid digestion and are a good way to keep the rice fresh for a few hours.

Cook up some Japanese rice and chop up an umeboshi plum. When the rice is done fold in your umeboshi ( I also added some furikake with sesame and dried daikon greens to give it a little colour ).

Wet your hands and make a ball of rice then start to mould the rice by pressing the rice into a point, then rotate the ball pressing it into that onigiri shape.

Do not put in the fridge as they will go hard, the umeboshi will help to keep them fresh for a few hours, if you want just put a damp cloth over them. When your ready to eat them I find a strip of nori ( dried seaweed) makes them easier to hold.

I like to toast my nori in the oven to make it extra crispy. The crunch of the nori and the soft rice then the tang of the umeboshi, just takes me right back to Japan, and for me that is one of the  reasons I make Japanese food.

They are nice just simply served on their own with a sake or a miso soup.

 

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

Kiriboshi Don ( rice bowl with daikon )

Daikon means big root, and boy do they grow big in Japan. I love going to the Japanese markets and seeing all the fresh produce there grown by local farmers.

Daikon has to be one of my favourite vegetables, although not originally native to Japan it is now Japan’s most widely cultivated vegetable. In season mainly from autumn to spring you can pretty much pick them up all year round in Japan. Daikon is good for the digestion and is such a versatile ingredients in cooking. I often manage to get mooli which is the most similar but they are never quite the same as the ones in Japan. Daikon has a light peppery flavour and when cooked in broth soaks up lots of flavour, I particularly like them in winter hot pot dishes. It can be eaten raw, simmered, fried, pickled and dried. Dried is known as kiriboshi daikon 切り干し大根 and this is what I will be using in this recipe. Kiriboshi translates to cut 切りand dry 干しin Japanese. It is basically daikon 大根 that has been shredded and traditionally left out to dry in the sun. Preserving daikon in this way has been popular since the Edo period ( 1603-1868). The daikon becomes sweeter when dried, packed with umami flavour. Drying  also concentrates the fibre and mineral content making it a good source of calcium and iron.

This is normally how you will buy kiriboshi daikon. You may see the words Singiri ぜんざい written in Japanese on the packet this means julienne in English, vegetable cut into strips . This is what I will be using for the simple but tasty rice kiriboshi don ( rice bowl ).

First take a handful of the dried daikon and wash it in a sieve under running water. Then place in a bowl and add warm water, leave to rehydrate for around 15 mins. To make this dish I used Arame seaweed. This is a species of kelp and looks a little similar to Hijiki. It comes dried so you need to do the same to this as the kiriboshi wash and leave to rehydrate. Unlike the daikon when it is rehydrated you will need to simmer the Arame in boiling water for about 20 mins.
Now your daikon is rehydrated you will notice the liquid that it is in has turned yellow. Drain off the liquid but retain it in a jug squeezing any excess liquid out the daikon also into the jug placing your daikon in a bowl.When you have your Arame simmered and drained add this to your daikon in a bowl. Add to your bowl with the daikon and Arame, a tablespoon of mirin and a tablespoon of tamari. Leave while you prepare your rice. Take a rice cooker cup of sushi rice and wash it until the water runs clear. Add this to your rice cooker and add two cups of your daikon liquid, top up with extra water if needed. Then add the juice of fresh grated ginger I used about an inch piece and a small piece of kombu again only a few inches. Let this soak for around 20 mins and then remove the kombu. Put your rice cooker on cook and prepare your kiriboshi and Arame by sautéing in toasted sesame oil, I added some extra chopped negi ( green onion ) for a little colour.
When your rice is done spoon into a bowl and add your sautéed kiriboshi on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and if you have any  ground black sesame salt. The rice has taken on the delicious flavour of the sweet daikon and ginger, it makes for a nutritious and filling meal that’s full of umami.

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

Vegan Curry Doria

Curry Doria was first created by the head chef Saly Weil at the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama back in 1930. It is a rice gratin dish in a Yoshoku style meaning a fusion of western and Japanese. There are many variations but all are made with some kind of meat so I decided to make a vegan version.
This makes one gratin enough for two people with sides.
First wash a cup ( sushi rice cup ) of sushi rice and cook with two cups of water. While that’s cooking make the curry meat topping.
In a pan sauté  finely chopped x1 shallot, 1/2 stick celery, x1 carrot and x2 mushrooms in a little coconut oil. I had some lovely shiitake stock left from making some teriyaki shiitake so I used that but you can use kombu dashi or veg stock you will need to add about 1 cup to the pan. Then I added 1/2 cup of soy mince the kind that comes dry and you add water to.

Add 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce and x1 tablespoon of tomato purée. Finally for the Japanese  curry flavour I used S&B curry spice. You should be able to get this from an Asian grocery shop . If you cannot  just use normal curry powder or another Japanese curry.

Mix this together and leave to simmer until the veg is done and stock reduced.
Grease a dish with some vegan margarine or butter. When your rice is cooked add this to the bottom of your dish, then add your curry soy mince on top. Then add a good layer of vegan cheese and place in the oven until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and serve with salad or vegetables.

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

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories Vegan Chicken Fried Rice

I have just finished watching series one of “Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories “ . A Japanese TV series about a man his customers call “Master”. He opens his diner at midnight and cooks people comfort food on request. It has a new recipe theme every episode with typical Japanese home style food. The characters are some new and some that follow through into each episode. I love the Golden Gai type setting which really gets me reminiscing of evenings in Tokyo. I have now started watching Season 2 . The first meal Master was asked to cook was Chicken Fried Rice. I thought to myself it might be nice to try to make a few vegan versions of the meals so today I made this meal. It’s an easy one pan meal that’s quick to make with just a few basic ingredients.
The ingredients used is for one person as a main meal or two people as a side dish.

Drain a can of jackfruit and separate in half put the other half in a container for another meal ( why not try my fake crab sushi ). You can then simmer the jackfruit in hot water to make it easier to pull apart if your not able to shred it. This time I used a new brand of jackfruit that I had never tried which didn’t need any further cooking before I used it. It was by Plant pioneers available at Sainsbury’s but you can use any brand you can get as long as it’s  in water and not syrup.

Defrost a handful of frozen peas in a bowl of hot water.
Then prepare your rice. I used one cup of Japanese rice washed and rinsed with two cups of water. When I say cups it refers to the cups you get with your rice cooker. This equals around 3/4 US cup or 180ml.

Set your rice cooker to cook or cook in a pan.
While your rice is cooking chop 1/4 white onion and around 3-4 regular mushrooms and add them to a frying pan with a little coconut oil or any oil of choice. Drain your frozen peas and add those and then add your jackfruit ( chicken substitute ). Sauté these until the onion and mushroom are tender, then if your rice is cooked add your rice. Stir this through and finally add a tablespoon of tomato purée. It is normally tomato ketchup that is used so it’s up to you if you use purée or ketchup. Sauté altogether and it’s done.

I’m looking forward to seeing what other meals Master cooks up for his customers next and maybe I might try making another vegan version. I was really surprised how this simple meal could be so tasty, try making it for yourself and transport your mind to a midnight diner in Tokyo.

Blog

Oroshi-Soba And Hanami Meal

This year many of us will not be able to have hanami parties outside with friends and will be celebrating at home . Just as the Sakura blooms and falls let’s hope that the world situation will pass in time . I decided to make a spring meal although the weather turned today from warm to windy and quite chilly, however I’m lucky enough to have a cherry tree in my garden and do not have to go outside for hanami and the warmth of the last few days had started to open the blooms.
My meal consisted of vinegared cucumber and vegan crab salad, Temari sushi with vegan sashimi, Oroshi soba and sake sakura kanten jelly.

I prepared the cucumber by salting first, after I had washed the salt off after about 15 mins I  then added this to a bowl with jackfruit, lime juice, brown rice vinegar, chopped red chilli and sesame seeds. You can also see the vegan crab meat recipe on my recipe for Vegan crab sushi salad. Having vinegared cucumber always reminds me of a child when I would go round to my grandmothers house for Sunday tea. It would take her all afternoon to prepare a massive Sunday spread for the family. My mother would help my grandmother while my father and grandfather would go for a drink at the local pub. I would play outside in my grand parents garden often sneaking in to their greenhouse to pick a ripe tomato directly off the vine (nothing better).

I also made bite sized sushi balls known as Temari sushi. With seasoned sushi rice and mock tuna sashimi. You can find Temari sushi recipes on my recipe page plus how to make the vegan tuna on my recipe for tekka don ( tuna rice bowl ).

Oroshi Soba is a chilled minimalist dish, ideal for summer. It consists of chilled soba noodles in a dashi broth. Oroshi refers to the grated daikon. By adding this and a few simple ingredients like chopped green onion it makes a refreshing filling meal.

This was the last of my daikon I had brought back from London a few weeks ago when I went to see the kimono exhibition at the V&A.

Now we are all confined to our homes and getting ingredients is becoming increasingly harder, so for me not only was this meal special because of the daikon but the soba noodles had been sent to me from Japan . I’m already running low on Japanese food supplies as I was expecting to be in Japan in a few weeks but now that’s not the case and on line ordering is mostly sold out. Each meal is going to be precious as I use up the last of my ingredients. When all this is over I’m going to seriously stock up ! Probably taking empty suitcases to bring back food from Japan. I’m also really going to appreciate all the more my next trip to Japan and I think any of us will appreciate our travels and holidays a lot more from now on. For me even something so simple as going to the supermarket which was something I actually enjoyed is now full of anxiety.
It was with great joy I managed to add a veg box into my basket in my online delivery which had been out of stock all week. So many things we take for granted.
With the last of the sake in the fridge I added it to a pan with a little fruit tea ( you could use fruit juice ) and made a jelly with kanten flakes. Adding a salted Sakura into the jelly mould .

As I sit safe at home, I give thanks to all the hospital staff, doctors, nurses and people in the community, police, delivery drivers, super market workers and online shops, that are helping us all get through these trying times. Thank you to you all . I wish you all now more than ever health and safety, we can get through this in time. It’s going to be hard but we must remain strong. Now is the time to maybe start up a new hobby or rekindle an old one. Cherish loved ones and turn to simpler times. Hopefully as we go through the year things will get easier and more back to normal, but let’s not forget this and how we may often take things for granted. Like the Sakura life is fleeting.

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 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.

 

 

 

Blog, Spring Food

Japanese Micro Season Part 24 大寒 Daikan Greater cold

January 20–24  冬華   Fuki no hana saku  Butterburs bud

January 25-29 水沢腹堅  Kiwamizu kōri tsumeru Ice thickens on streams

January 30- February 3 鶏始乳 Niwatori hajimete toya ni tusku hens start laying eggs

I actually want to talk a bit about what happens right at the end of this micro season on February 3rd. This day is regarded as particularly important as it is the transition from winter to spring. The day before the first day of spring on February 3rd is called Setsubun. On this day there are a few customs in Japan one of them is to eat an uncut makizushi called (eho-maki ) while you sit in silence facing the years lucky direction, 2020 being west south west and make a wish for the rest of the coming year. The eho-maki must have seven ingredients, these relate to the seven lucky gods Shichifukujin.

Another Setsubun custom is for the male person of the house to wear a demon mask called ( oni ) and then throw roasted soy beans at other family members and out of the door while shouting “ Oniwa soto Futuwa uchi ! ” meaning demons out luck in. This ritual is called Mamemaki or bean scattering and as well as doing it at home shrines and temples hold this ritual also and many people go to partake in the Oni oi-Shiki ceremony. Women may sometimes wear the otafuku mask which is Lady Luck.


As well as the roasted soybean scattering it is custom to eat as many soybeans as your age plus one for the year to come to insure a year of good health.
Why not try making a long sushi roll for yourself this year. Fillings can be anything you like . Try asparagus, cucumber, tofu, kanpyo, shiitake, carrot or a vegan style cutlet.
I always like to celebrate Setsubun to welcome in the new spring season, although spring still feels a very long way off at the moment but the small signs are there if care to take a look.

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: Tokyo 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  ! )

Blog, Winter Food

Japanese Micro Season Part 23 (Lesser cold) 小寒 Shōkan

(Lesser cold) 小寒 Shōkan

January 5–9  芹乃栄 Seri sunawachi sakau  ( Parsley flourishes )

January 10–14  水泉動 Shimizu atataka o fukumu  ( Springs thaw )

January 15–19 雉始 Kiji hajimete naku ( Pheasants start to call )

Nanakusa-Gayu

nana (): seven

kusa (): lit. grass (herb)

(o)kayu (): rice porridge

On the 7th of January in japan (jinjitsu) marks the end of the Oshougatsu (Japanese New Years) . This day is known as nanakusa no sekku (七草の節句), or the Festival of the Seven Weeds . It is custom to make a seven herb rice porridge Nanakusa Gayu 七草粥 to help heal the stomach after the New Year festivities. It is quite common in japan if you have an unwell stomach to eat Okayu rice porridge. The 7th of January is one of the 5 seasonal festivals the porridge is said to prevent illness for the coming year.

The herbs used in japan are waterdrop wort,shepherds purse,cudweed,chickweed,nipplewort,turnip and daikon radish.

As I live in the UK I have had to substitute the Japanese herbs for ones I could find.

I used watercress,rocket,mizuna,chive,basil and parsley a mixture of these with daikon radish.

You can a make this with  kombu dashi ( just soak kombu in water over night ) and Japanese rice with a 1-5 ratio one Japanese rice cooker cup rice to five water. Simmer for around 30 mins adding more dashi if needed, then mix in your herbs and steam for 10 minutes. You could finish by garnishing with some sautéed daikon radish chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

You can cook your rice in dashi or vegetable broth and make  a pesto with the herbs. Just blend a mix of the herbs with olive oil and sesame paste. Then add a spoon of pesto on top with maybe some sautéed daikon and some extra blanched herbs.

It is also nice to add a toasted Mochi rice cake if you like.

If you have left over porridge how about stirring in some creamy white miso for a delicious lunch.

However you cook it it’s a lovely filling meal.

Here’s to good health in 2020 !

Autumn Food, Blog, Winter Food

Shiitake & Miso Risotto

I had lots of shiitake mushrooms that needed using up, so I decided to create this creamy comforting risotto.
Use one rice cooker measuring cup of Japanese sushi rice, wash well and leave to soak for a few hours then use your rice cooker measuring cup to measure out x4 cups of hot water ( around 500ml ) add this to a jug with half a vegetable stock cube and one tablespoon of sweet white miso and dissolve. Add your soaked rice to a rice cooker or pan and add half your stock, put your rice cooker on cook or cook your rice in a pan.
Slice what ever mushrooms you like a mix of shiitake, maitake and oyster is nice. Melt some vegan butter and sautéed until the mushrooms are cooked.
When the rice cooker clicks over add the sautéed mushrooms and the remaining stock and put it back on cook. Keep stirring a few times. When it’s done a second time stir in some soy cream and add salt and pepper to taste. Also nice with some chopped parsley and vegan Parmesan. I made my own by pulsing hemp hearts and nutritional yeast. Serve with some nice warm crusty or sourdough bread.