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Shiratama

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

Valentines Day Chocolate Tofu Dango inspired by Yanaka

Will you be giving a valentine treat to someone today ? In Japan it’s just the men that get the gifts off the women and it’s not just loved ones that are given gifts it’s co workers, school and college friends teachers you name it ! It can be quite a big task giving gifts to all your male friends.
Todays Valentine chocolate was inspired by a cafe in Yanaka Ginza called Kenshindo.

It’s the cutest little place to enjoy a tea and seasonal dessert even with a loved one, friend or simply watch the old town ambience go by on your own as you look out on to this rustic unspoilt area of Tokyo. I love visiting Yanaka when I’m in Tokyo it has such a nostalgic slower paced atmosphere, something for everyone with temples, local grocery shops, street food, crafts and cafes. Amidst  the skyscrapers and lively metropolis of Tokyo you will find many  locals shops and Yanaka  has a unique shitamachi character. Shitamachi refers to an age where Tokyo was still called Edo and now means a downtown neighbourhood that still has that slower pace atmosphere and warmth, of a bygone era. It’s also near Ueno and Nezu shrine, so a great day out.


Yanaka also has a reputation for cats, no one really knows why the cats where attracted to here, some think it was because of the large amount of trees and temples in the area. The locals love the cats and they are even included in the local district flag.

There are seven statues called the seven lucky cats hidden around the area, they were installed in 2008 and it’s a great game to try to find them all as you wonder around all the artisan shops.

Sadly being unable to travel at the moment I decided to recreate the chocolate covered dango made at kenshindo 

Here is how I made them.

I decided to make tofu dango so you will need roughly about 1/2 bag of dango flour and 1/2 a block of silken tofu.


Blend together to form a dough

Then roll into a log shape and pull pieces off and roll into balls.

Then drop them into boiling water

When they float to the surface they are done ( I always leave them a little longer to cook through )

Remove them and drop into cold water. Then remove them to dry out a little.

Melt about one and a half bars of vegan chocolate of choice in a Bain-Marie. Basically a bowl over hot water.

When your chocolate is melted drop a few dango at a time into your melted chocolate to cover and then thread onto a skewer.

Place onto some parchment paper and sprinkle with some candy sprinkles.

Put them in the freezer for ten minutes to harden the chocolate and they are ready.

These are a lovely combination of the crack of chocolate and squishy Mochi as you bite. I’m going to enjoy a little bit of Yanaka tea time at home.

Happy Valentine’s  Day.

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 off 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 steam 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

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

Japanese Micro Seasons Part 14 処暑 Shosho (Manageable heat)

処暑 Shosho (Manageable heat)
August 23–27 綿柎開 Wata no hana shibe hiraku Cotton flowers bloom

August 28–September 1 天地始粛 Tenchi hajimete samushi Heat starts to die down

September 2–7 禾乃登 Kokumono sunawachi minoru Rice ripens

I think we can see our own micro seasons no matter if we live in Japan or not. Today a cool wind is blowing and I am starting to think about the new vegetables that will be coming into season soon. For now I am using late summer ingredients to make a soup curry with kuruma fu and lovely brown rice. Kuruma means wheel in Japanese. I also made dango. This is one you could think about making later in September for the moon viewing festival Otsukimi ( search for this for more information )

Why not start to think about your own seasons where you live. Notice the changes in nature. I think when we feel more connected to the earth we can start to use this in our cooking. Making everything more mindful from the choosing of ingredients to the preparation down to the eating of a meal.

This is the reason I like to make Japanese vegan food. It helps me feel more connected to a country I love deeply.

I used S&B curry spice with water and thickened the soup with kuzu. The kuruma fu were first soaked in a mix of water mirin and tamari then after squeezing out the liquid I dipped them in okara you could also use potato starch. Then I shallow fried them to make them lovely and crispy on the outside. The kind of remind me of an English Yorkshire pudding in texture and flavour. The vegetables I used were some lovely zucchini and potatoes  a work colleagues mother had grown on her allotment some summer kabocha which is lighter in flavour and some lovely crisp  biodynamic salad leaves that were locally grown. I had got some organic ridge cucumber in my vegetable box delivery this week so I pickled them  in ume vinegar.

 

 

 

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.