Tag

Sakura

Blog, Spring Food

okoshi おこし


At Easter time as a child I would often make simple treats made from either puffed rice or cornflakes coated in chocolate and allowed to set.

There is a tradional  puffed rice confectionery  in Japanese cuisine  known as okoshi and this simple wagashi reminded me of these crispy Easter treats I used to make.

The main ingredient in okoshi is expanded rice, created by roasting rice grains until they pop. A mix of sugar and butter or  syrup is used to hold the rice together, and after the additional ingredients have been added, the mixture is formed or pressed in trays, left to dry, then cut into squares.

This crispy Japanese treat first appeared during the mid-Edo period in Japan and was primarily sold by street vendors in the vicinity of Buddhist temples in Asakusa, one of the districts in Tokyo. This was because around 1800, the thunder gate was burned down by  fire. When reconstructing the gate, street vendors of Asakusa began selling rice crackers as a lucky charm for avoiding the strike of a thunderbolt, and the confection was named “Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)”. In its name, “Okoshi (おこし)” has a meaning of “rebuilding” in Japanese, while the former word “Kaminari ()” stands for Kaminarimon, so Kaminari Okoshi literally meant rebuilding the gate. Okoshi is still the most famous souvenir of the Asakusa area today. In the Asakusa area, there are still traditional street vendors who prepare this brittle snack and demonstrate the entire procedure. Okoshi is often given as a popular gift as people think it can bring good fortune so is often bought as omiyage (Japanese souvenirs given to friends or coworkers after returning home from a trip).

The traditional wagashi can sometimes be made with puffed rice and millet and contain peanuts or sesame seeds. They can also come in flavours like green tea, so it’s a great way of experimenting with different flavours to see which you like best. This however is the  difference between those and the rice crispy treats you may know of that contain marshmallow and chocolate.

I made mine with organic puffed rice, mixed into melted vegan butter with organic caster sugar. I decided to use cherry syrup as a flavour and decorated them with salted preserved Sakura flowers.
You need to be able to press them into a tin which you can line with parchment paper and when they are set you can cut them into square’s, ( do not put in the fridge but leave in an airtight container ).

I actually decided to use my Nagashikan, stainless steel jelly mould with a removable inner container. It also cuts into sections. I’ve found this so useful and can definitely recommend getting one for making yokan or jelly in the summer. You can purchase them from Global Kitchen on line in Japan.

These treats are super sweet so need to be paired with something like a green tea. As I added a preserved Sakura flower it added a little saltiness which I liked.

Happy Easter.

 

 

 

Blog, Spring Food

Vegan Sakura Daifuku Butter Mochi


To celebrate the coming Sakura season and the launch of my spring recipe card. I have taken a wagashi which is a speciality of Akita prefecture called Butter Mochi and made it vegan.

The Mochi uses glutinous rice flour, vegan butter and soy milk to make a wagashi that it not only soft and chewy with a delicious creamy taste, but will last covered in the fridge for a few days.
I made these seasonal using Sakura flowers but you can just as easily omit them and add maybe matcha or Yomogi powder instead. They are perfect to make for hanami season. You could try making these and enjoy eating them under a cherry blossom tree for that Japanese feeling that we all are missing right now.
First you need (if using ) to prepare one tablespoon of Sakura flowers in advance around (five flowers). Wash off the salt and blot them between paper towel and dry them out. When they are dry grind them into a powder using a suribachi (pestle and mortar) or a coffee grinder if you have one. (Don’t worry you can omit this part if you wish and just use Sakura flowers for decoration for which you will need to wash and blot dry on kitchen towel nine Sakura flowers)

Line a small container around 4-5 inch square with parchment paper. I used a sandwich box.

You will then need :

100grms of glutinous rice flour ( the kind for making Dango like Shiratamako or Mochiko )

90grms of unrefined caster sugar

1 cup of soy milk

45grms of room temperature vegan butter cut into squares (I used Naturli Vegan Block)

1 teaspoon of natural pink food colouring . I used beetroot juice. Plus an optional dash of flavouring of umesu plum vinegar.

Red bean paste of choice tsubuan or koshian

Potato starch for dusting

Method:

Add your glutinous rice flour to a microwaveable bowl, add to this your sugar and mix, then add your soy milk mixing until smooth.  Add your colouring and Sakura powder if using and mix. Place in a microwave for 2 minutes. My microwave is 800watts so if yours is less add more time. Take the bowl out of the microwave and add your butter, stirring  until it has all melted. Place your bowl back in the microwave and cook again for 3 minutes. Remove and beat the Mochi with a wooden spoon or spatula until it becomes sticky and translucent. Wait for it to cool a little and tip it into your parchment prepared container. Add your Sakura flowers if using pressed into the mochi, then place in the fridge for an hour to firm up a little. Take the container out the fridge and lift the Mochi out of the container using the parchment paper.

Dust a knife with potato starch and cut into equal squares.

Roll nine small balls of bean paste then take each square with potato starch dusted hands and tip upside down placing a ball in the middle.

Fold the edges round over the bean paste and place on a plate.

Carry on doing this with the rest of the cut mochi.
If you want to make Matcha or Yomogi Daifuku instead add a tablespoon of this to your flour at the beginning.
Keep in the fridge in a container they will be good for a few days, if they last that long.
If you would like to purchase salted pickled Sakura flowers I have limited quantities with my Hanami recipe card this month.
Let’s enjoy the taste of Japanese spring time.

Happy Springtime Happy Hanami !

 

Blog, Spring Food

Sakura Shiozuke (pickled preserved Sakura cherry blossoms)

The unique flavour and aroma of salted pickled cherry blossom is very distinct and if you are a Japan lover you will know this smell automatically. In Japan the Sakura bloom for a very short time the fleeting essence of nature is celebrated by all things Sakura themed in Spring. You may have seen me in the past use shop bought salted pickled cherry blossoms in some of my recipes. They are used around Sakura season in Japan to decorate cakes, cookies and desserts and can also be used chopped in onigiri. One of the most popular is a wagashi called Sakura Mochi .

I decided to make my own Sakura shiozuke as they are preserved you can use them any time to make my Sakura cookie recipe or other recipes that call for salted Sakura.

Why not give making salted pickled Sakura blossoms a try. You will need to pick the pink Pom Pom looking double flowers known as Yaezakura.

Pick the blossom and put them in a bowl I used around 100g of blossom . Gently wash them.


Then add salt make sure it’s well mixed in . I added quite a bit about 20g. Then cover with cling film  and put a plate on top and weigh it down further with smaller plates then  leave them over night .



The next day take off your plates. I bought  ume su ( by clear spring ) and added to the blossom about 1/4 of the bottle.



Put the plastic wrap over and put the plates back on . Then leave that for three days . After this time pick out the blossom and put them on a wire rack with kitchen town in a warm place for 2 days .



Then peel them off the kitchen towel ( they are nearly dried but not quite at this point) put them on a bamboo tray you could use a few rolling matts or something like that and leave again to dry for a few more days .


At this point they should be dry and you can store them in a jar adding a bit more salt and save them til next year or use them straight away!

Happy Sakura Season !

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Hinamatsuri 雛祭り 2022 五目ちらし寿司 Chirashi Sushi


Joshi no Sekku 上巳の節句 on March 3rd is the second in the five main seasonal festivals of Japan. Sometimes called Momo no Sekku (Peach festival ) or (dolls festival) but more commonly known as Hinamatsuri 雛祭. This festival originally celebrated both boys and girls  but over time the celebration ended up being just for girls when Tango no Sekku became popular known as boys day. Dolls are still displayed and are now said to represent the emperor and empress. The dolls are displayed to ward of evil spirits and are often bought with the birth of a new child or pasted down from grandparents. The day now celebrates the growth and good health for parents with girl children. Hinamatsuri is a symbolic date for spring signalling the blooming of blossoms and the start of a new season.

There are three specific colours associated with Hinamatsuri green for health, white for purification, and pink for luck. Some times the colours are referred to as : Green colour of  spring. White the last snow that is melting away. Pink spring  flowers, such as cherry blossoms and peach blossom.

Often you will see dango in these three colours which are popular at this time. These are also called hanami dango 花見団子 or Sanshoku 三色団子 dango, which literally translates to “three colored rice dumpling”. I’ve displayed the dango in a dish shaped like a hagoita (羽子板) which is a paddle used in a game with a shuttlecock a bit like badminton. The game is called Hanetsuki (羽根突き) and was often a game played by girls. It was believed that playing the game would drive away evil spirits because the movement of the hagoita is similar to harau action a Japanese expression meaning to drive away. Thus playing hanetsuki with hagoita is often used as a charm against evil.

There are many special foods eaten on this day to celebrate which I have spoken about in previous posts. I decided again this year to make Chirashizushi五目ちらし寿司. Chirashizushi translates to scattered sushi. In Osaka it is known as Barazushi or Gomoku sushi. In Tokyo it is known as Edomae and features an assortment of sashimi. I think it’s one of the easiest to make vegan. Made with sushi rice I added Umesu as a seasoning. You can top your sushi rice with what ever you like, popular ingredients might be bamboo shoots for spring, lotus root, scrambled egg or sliced omelette, shrimp, snow peas and vegetables. So I used a new vegan egg to add a scrambled egg to my chirashi sushi along with pink pickled lotus root, edamame, grated carrot and other vegetables.

I feel I can’t pass by Hinamatsuri without making Sakura Mochi a Japanese spring time wagashi . For me the taste of Japanese spring. Made with Mochi rice and wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf and topped with a preserved Sakura flower. The Mochi has red bean paste inside and is the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Perfect with a green tea or a traditional sake known as shisozake or a Nigorizake. This is why I made it my recipe card for the month of March. Look out for more seasonal recipe cards with ingredients every month which I add here on the blog and my Instagram page.
Happy Hinamatsuriハッピー雛祭り

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Tokyo Pony Recipe Card 3 Hinamatsuri 雛祭り

 


RECIPE CARD NUMBER
3️⃣

🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

March “Hinamatsuri “

雛祭り桜餅

The third  in the series of Tokyo Pony monthly recipe cards following the seasons and traditions of Japanese vegan food.

My third recipe card marks the second in the five main seasonal festivals of japan “Hinamatsuri”. There are many traditional foods eaten on this day one of them being the spring seasonal wagashi ( Japanese sweet ) “Sakura Mochi “ 桜餅.

You can now experience the taste of cherry blossom season in Japan by making these sweet, chewy  Sakura Mochi at home with this months recipe card.

The sweets are made with an edible salted pickled Sakura leaf which are difficult to find outside of japan. Each recipe card comes with one pack of 10 salted pickled Sakura leaves to make the perfect combination of salty and sweet wagashi.

These sweets can be eaten for Hinamatsuri on March 3rd and also  enjoyed throughout the spring season.

Hurry there are limited quantity of these so get in quick !

Enjoy the recipe!

To purchase :

click the “SHOP” link in the menu

Thank you so much for your orders 🙏🏻

And all your continued support . I hope you will enjoy making Japanese seasonal food along with me.

Blog, Spring Food

Chirashi sushi Scattered Sushi for Hinamatsuri

On March 3rd in Japan it is Hinamatsuri a special girls day festival held every year for parents to celebrate their daughters if they have them and pray for their health and happiness. It is the second in the five seasonal festivals this one also known as peach blossom festival or dolls day. The peach blossom are blooming at their peak now and ceremonial dolls are displayed in households.

There are many traditional foods that are eaten on this day for instance, hina-arare bite sized crackers, a fermented sake drink called shirozake, strawberry daifuku, Sakura Mochi, Temari sushi, kompeito small candy sweets, Dango and inari sushi to name a few. You can find out more about these in previous years posts. This year I have decided to make a special sushi known as Chirashi Sushi or Chirashizushi. This starts with sushi rice, lovingly preparing the sushi rice as normal washing it thoroughly  until the water runs clear and then cooking it in my rice cooker. When it was done I added ume plum vinegar to keep in with the theme of the blossoms at this time carefully mixing it in and fanning it cool. Then scattering over  some organic toasted sesame seeds to set the base for the rest of the toppings. Some of the ingredients were prepared in advance like sliced lotus root, cut into flower shapes and pickled in shiso vinegar for a week before hand. Chirashi Sushi  translates to scattered sushi. You will often find the one made for Hinamatsuri decorated with lotus root and slices of omelette, known as kinshitamago, I made a vegan omelette and this was my first topping. Then I scattered some kiriboshi (dried daikon) that had been soaking in warm water to reconstitute. It is tradition to add fish like salmon roe, crab meat and maybe shrimp but as I am making a vegan sushi I added, peas, sliced shiitake, snap peas, pickled daikon flowers and carrot flowers, preserved salted Sakura and shredded nori known as kizami nori.

This is the perfect meal to make and share at a party or gathering.
In Osaka Chirashi Sushi is known as Barazushi or Gomoku Sushi sometimes topped with unagi eel. In Tokyo it is known as Edomae taken from Edo and features an assortment of sashimi.

It is also traditional to make a clear clam soup known as ushio-jiru to go with a Hinamatsuri meal. As I wanted a vegan soup I made a similar clear soup known as Suimono. Starting with a cold water dashi the day before with kombu kelp, dried shiitake and Yuzu peel then the next day discarding  the kombu and slicing the shiitake adding  just mirin, tamari and a little salt to the broth. Pouring it over silken tofu (kinugoshi) and adding pretty fu flowers,with a few other ingredients bamboo shoot, shiitake, broccoli stem and mitsuba. The flavour is very delicate but full of umami.

To make the meal extra special some seasonal desserts, pink tofu dango topped with a rhubarb sauce, Sakura Mochi and a white peach sherbet jelly from the Japanese wagashi shop Minamoto Kitchoan.

Happy Hinamatsuri 🌸🌸🎎🌸🌸 I hope you can make a special meal or something to celebrate the beginning of spring even if you do not have a daughter.

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Matcha Sakura Cookies

Today we had the most beautiful warm spring weather, as I look out into my garden at the blooming Sakura the bees are loving it. Time is very much slowing down at the moment but the bees are very much hard at work . I just don’t want the beautiful flowers to end, but I know soon the petals will be falling as we move on into summer.
As I had some salted preserved Sakura flowers I thought I would take today as an opportunity to make my Sakura cookies.

This time I made them with matcha.

The cookie recipe is the same but I used maple syrup and x1 tablespoon of matcha in the recipe. I didn’t need to add any water and added a little more oat flour just to make the dough better. Sometimes it’s a little trial and error with dough sometimes it may need more liquid sometimes a little more dry ingredients, in cooking it’s going with the flow and adjusting things as necessary.
These cookies came out so well it was hard not to eat them all in one go. I will save some for later although as we all know from baked goods they are always best on the day.
If you don’t have Sakura flowers you can just make these without. That little touch of saltiness with the bitter matcha and sweet cookie makes for a delightful flavour reminiscent of days in Japan.
Making these Sakura cookies is a way for me to be close to Japan’s spring time when I can’t be there.

I’m going to enjoy them with a Sakura tea  which you can buy from nugoo Japan.

How about making a cookie sandwich this one has sweet red bean paste in between two cookies

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

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

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.

Blog, Spring Food

Pink Sakura Tea Latte

I think I miss Japan the most in Spring. Seeing all the gorgeous Sakura in full bloom on the media makes me wish I was there. At least I have been lucky to experience the season first hand. The Sakura is highly prized as the season only lasts but a week or so,proving that life is fleeting and ever changing. When we look at the cherry blossoms we realise that we must appreciate things and live mindful in the moment of each passing day.

The cherry blossom in Japan this year came over a week early and was the third earliest full bloom in Tokyo on record. As for my Sakura it’s still very much in tight bud it has been so cold in the UK this year. I’m still in Japan in spirit and I am loving making these Sakura tea pink lattes.

All you need is Japanese Sakura tea ( this might be a little difficult to find outside of Japan.)

Brew one Sakura teabag in half a cup of hot water. Heat up half a cup of non dairy milk then add one tablespoon of beetroot juice and froth your milk. As the beetroot is naturally sweet you don’t need to add sweetener. Then take out your teabag and add your milk topping with froth. I actually have some pink pitaya powder that looks pretty dusted on the top or you could add some pink tea powder which is made from 100% mangosteen.

Just waiting now for my Sakura to bloom and spring to finally arrive.

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Sushi Lunch

A sushi lunch to day.
Mini cucumber sushi rolls and Gunkan maki sushi .
Gunkan actually translates as warship .
This is super easy just seasoned sushi rice wrapped in nori with various toppings . Just make sure you cut your nori a little higher than your rice to hold your toppings.
My toppings included maitake mushrooms with bamboo shoots,avocado and pickled red cabbage, broccoli and asparagus,umeboshi,Sakura,hijiki and sushi ginger.

軍艦巻寿司