Tag

Ume

Blog, Spring Food

Sakura Shiozuke (pickled preserved Sakura cherry blossoms)

A cherry blossom post in August ? Well while most of us are getting ready for falling leaves and pumpkins, for some Spring is just around the corner. I had this post ready for Spring but after seeing some Sakura posts on Instagram today I decided it would be nice to post this just for all our friends down under or where ever you are that spring is showing it’s on its way.
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 !

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.

Blog

Japanese Micro Season 9 芒種 Bōshu (Grain beards and seeds)

芒種 Bōshu (Grain beards and seeds)
June 6–10 蟷螂生 Kamakiri shōzu Praying mantises hatch

June 11–15 腐草為螢 Kusaretaru kusa hotaru to naru Rotten grass becomes fireflies

June 16–20 梅子黄 Ume no mi kibamu Plums turn yellow

Midway through the summer micro seasons the rice is planted in the wet paddy fields of Japan, their little stalks looking almost like the praying mantis. Fire flies start to dart around in the  early evening, a truly magical event. Japan’s rainy season will soon arrive . The rainy season is called Tsuyu meaning plum rain, the rain that falls when the plums are ripe for the picking. It is an important part of Japanese culture, harvesting the plums to be made into liquor or preserved in salt to make umeboshi. I have a few recipes on my recipe pages using umeboshi why not give them a try over this time. The sweet and sour tofu is a particular favourite, as is umeboshi onigiri.


In Japan over the rainy season you may see ghost like pieces of cloth hanging at windows these are called Teru Teru Bozu, they depict a weather monk and are said to be used to pray for a sunny day. Often children might hang them the day before an event or by farmers.
Rainy season is celebrated in Japan like any other and it is at this time the ajisai  (hydrangeas) bloom and many people go to the gardens to see them. If you would like to make my soup for the rainy you can also find that in my recipe section, a bright green soup to represent the lush vegetation at this time, you can also read more about places to see Ajisai on this post.


I am also thinking it might be a good time to set goals for the rest of the year. Planting that rice paddy and letting it grow ( metaphorically speaking ) . As many of us have been slowing down over the last few months let’s not be too eager to rush back into our old hectic lives. I know many of you like myself have been getting out  and enjoying nature more. I speak personally when I say it does indeed have a calming effect. Many people especially in the countryside of Japan enjoy the changing seasons and cook seasonal foods. Doing this can help us feel more connected to the earth. This is why many of my recipes are seasonal either enjoying produce of the time or relating to some Japanese custom of the year.  I think many of us tend to get lost in our everyday lives and I think as we start to move forward from this trying time of 2020 it would be nice to keep some of the slowness that we may have found. I hope that you might try making some Japanese food for yourself. Try to find some local seasonal produce, maybe choose a recipe you could use them in and set aside time to cook it. Do it in a peaceful environment. While your preparing the food think about who you are making the food for sending love and good energies into the food. This is a nice meditation that you can use while doing everyday tasks.

Blog

Wafu Pasta

Wafu means Japanese style,so basically any non Japanese meal that is made with Japanese ingredients and given a Japanese twist is Wafu. One of the most well know wafu pasta is Naporitan or Napolitan. In one of my other posts I have explained about this meal and I have given an alternative to using the traditional sausages. Normally the ingredients are tomato ketchup sausages,onion,mushrooms and green bell pepper .

Other well know pasta dishes are Mentaiko, a sauce made with mayonnaise or butter with added fish like cod or shrimp.

Another is Ume shiso, this is made with olive oil,salted pickled plums and shimeji mushrooms, topped with shiso . I used toasted sesame oil with pickled shiso and Umeboshi.

This one is miso pasta. Interesting to know that miso pasta ingredients include bacon,scallops and potato in a miso sauce. I used eringii for the scallops and coconut bacon with sautéed potato.

Blog

Simple Tofu Salad For Lazy Summer Days

When the weather heats up the last thing you feel like doing is slaving over a hot stove or having the oven on

This is just a refreshing salad to satisfy you but with out all the effort.

Start by adding some parsley and mizuna to a plate then top this with some chopped juicy tomato then sprinkle on some sliced red onion, cooked and chilled edamame beans and hijiki seaweed some finely chopped chives and some chilled silken tofu cubes. I like the tartness of adding Ume dressing to my salad and a squeeze of lemon.  Maybe a scatter of sesame seeds.

I think this is nice as a main dish but you could equally use it as a side.