Blog, Spring Food

Setsubun 節分 2023

Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (鬼は外、福は内).

Demons out, Good Fortune in!” For today is Setsubun no Hi held on (節分の日) February 3rd.

Setsubun 節分, is a seasonal indicator that marks the day before the beginning of Spring and is now celebrated as a spring festival “Haru Matsuri”.

Setsubun is the day before we start again through the journey of the 24 micro season or sekki of Japan when we welcome in Risshun 立春 the beginning of Spring.

This is midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Even though we are in the coldest days, in Japan you will start to see those signs that spring is near by. The days are just getting slightly longer and you can see the start of life emerging from the earth. Ume blossom is starting to bloom, giving those well needed splashes of colour to the brown landscape and maybe you might see  flashes of a little green bird known as Uguisu (bush warbler or the Japanese nightingale) another symbol of spring.

Let’s enjoy Setsubun with Ehou Maki 恵方巻き, Ehō-maki

On this day there are a few customs in Japan one of them is to eat an uncut makizushi called Ehō-maki 恵方巻, “lucky direction sushi roll” while you sit in silence facing the years lucky direction. The “lucky direction” (恵方) of this year 2023 is south-south-east (南南東).
This changes every year depending on the current zodiac. The word “Eho” means the auspicious direction,this is where the god of good fortune for the year exists and is also called “Kippou” or “Akinokata/Akihou”.

The Ehō-maki must have seven ingredients,these relate to the Seven Lucky Gods (七福神, Shichi Fukujin) from local folklore who are in charge of bringing prosperity in business and good health. It doesn’t matter what you put in your sushi roll it can be anything you like but it’s good to have a variety of ingredients. Just eat the whole roll without cutting it into slices with a knife and eat in silence,if you speak, the good fortune will escape.

Setsubun is all about the Oni (おに) 👹

Oni are a kind of yōkai, demon, orc, ogre, or troll in Japanese folklore. They are known as the god of mountains and have a fearful appearance. It is believed that the Oni come to punish humans when they misbehave. They come in many varieties, but are most commonly depicted with two or more horns, and fang-like tusks, red or blue skin, wild hair, large in size and possess superhuman strength. They are terrifying in appearance and are associated with disease and misfortune. They are often shown carrying their choice weapon: a large, heavy iron hexagonal club, called a tetsubō, covered in spikes,which is used for torturing victims. They are typically depicted wearing little-to-no clothing, but when clothed they are usually shown wearing a loincloth made of tiger skin.

It was believed that this time of year the spirit world and our world combined making it easy for evil spirits  to bring illness into our homes. During the cold winter months it is easier to get sick and it was believed that this was caused by oni. At this time it is custom to repel these demons from our homes. One such way to do this is Mamemaki (豆まき), the throwing of roasted soybeans. So why use soybeans ? They are believed to have sacred power along with rice, which could get rid of evil spirits. The Japanese word for beans is pronounced as mame () and sounds similar to the word for demon eyes (mame, 魔目) and because of that throwing beans has a similar sound to destroying demons (mametsu, 魔滅).

It is custom to fill a Japanese wooden cup called a masu with such beans and throw them out the entrance to your home or maybe at a family member dressed as a demon. As you do this you shout “Oni wa soto ! Fuku wa uchi”鬼は外! 福は内! meaning Demons out good fortune in.

Since it is believed that ogres come at midnight, nighttime is the best time to start the bean-throwing ceremony. Open the front door or window of your house and scatter beans, saying “Oni wa soto!” After closing the doors and windows immediately to prevent the ogres from returning, scatter the beans inside the room, saying “Fuku wa uchi!”

Another tradition to ward off the evil spirit is to hang holly at your door with wait for it a smelly sardine head stuck on top. This talisman is called Hiragi iwashi. The evil spirits are apparently repelled by the strong smell and thorns of the holly leaves. Needless to say I just hang holly at my door being vegan.

This year I decided to have a little fun and combine my Ehō-maki with an Oni tiger pants pattern .

I first made my sushi roll making the rice on the outside with my seven fillings on the inside.

I them decided to use a vegan omelette on the outside using a new vegan omelette brand called Nomelette by Sun & Seed.

Making the omelette and then rolling it around the sushi roll. Finally I added a few tiger stripes made from nori.

You may now not only see the traditional sushi rolls sold in stores in japan but variations from roll cakes to burritos so why not have some fun making your own version of Ehō-maki and celebrate the beginning of Spring like they do in japan .

Blog, Winter Food

The Year Of The Rabbit ウサギ

New year in Japan is one of the most important and biggest celebration’s. After the big house clean known as O-Souji has been done in preparation for the New year and the Bonenkai (forget the year parties) are a blurred memory, it’s time to welcome in the New Year.

My new year preparations always start a few days before New Years Eve with packing away all the Christmas decorations and putting out my display of New Year good luck items. Always avoid putting out decorations on the 29th as the word is reminiscent of the word suffering. Also the 31st is said to be too last minute and disrespectful to the kami.
It’s popular to display Kadomatsu, a traditional decoration made from bamboo and pine. It is usually a set of two put in front of the home to welcome ancestral spirits or kami.

Shimekazari is an ornament that represents a new start can may be hung on the house entrance. It is believed to bring luck and prevent bad spirits entering the house.

Something else you might display may be a Kagami Mochi consisting of two round mochi on top of each other and an orange on the top called a daidai. This one is store bought and has mochi inside. It is supposed to ward off fires from the house for the following year. It is normally placed in the household altar or in front of the entrance to the home. It is believed that when the New Year begins a god called Toshigami 年神 (Great-Year God”) will visit and offering them kagami Mochi will bring good luck. The Kirimochi Mochi which is rectangular is traditionally eaten in a ritual called Kagami biraki on the second Saturday or Sunday in January and can be grilled and eaten with a red bean soup called zenzai ぜんざい

A popular thing to do for New Year is to get a daruma doll. The doll comes with no eyes and you paint on one eye with your goal or intention for the year. My goal was to work in a career with something that had a connection to japan in some way. I hope I get to paint in the other eye some day. 

Decorations of the coming zodiac animal are often displayed in the home. There are twelve animal signs which are called  juni-shi . The cycle rotates every twelve years and this year 2023 is the year of the rabbit (Usagiウサギ) the fourth in the twelve-year cycle of animals.
You have the rabbit as your animal if you were born in 2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927

In Japan, the rabbit has long been said to be a very auspicious animal bringing good luck, and its long ears attracting good fortune.

Lucky thing for People Born in the Year of the Rabbit:-
Lucky colors: red, pink, purple, blue.
Lucky flowers: plantain lily, jasmine.
Lucky directions: east, south and northwest.
People born in the year of the Rabbit often lead a conservative lifestyle and the rabbit is also considered a symbol of peace and safety in the home because of its gentle, calm appearance. People born in the Year of the Rabbit usually have soft and tender personality traits. They keep a modest attitude and maintain a pleasant relationship to people around. They will not be irritated easily, and they also avoid quarrels as much as possible. People who are born in the year of the rabbit are calm and peaceful.
So what does having the year of the rabbit mean for 2023? The shift in energy will be significant as we move out of 2022, the year of the Tiger and into the more patient and gentle Rabbit Year.
The sign of the Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity, 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope and prosperity. Coming after the battle with a global pandemic, the year ahead will help us recover and reconnect with new opportunities. Like rabbits, when we tap into our personal power and confidence, we can achieve our goals despite the challenges along the way. Take advantage of your skills (and luck!) as you enter the Year of the Rabbit.

There is an importance of the firsts of things on New Year’s Day. The first shrine visit is called hatsumōde 初詣 where during the first three days of the year people wait patiently in long lines in order to ring the bell and offer a New Year’s prayer, to begin their New Year with good fortune.

There is a  tranquil shrine located at the foot of Mount Yoshida, tucked away behind the more touristy Heian-Jingu shrine in the Okazaki district east of Kyoto called Okazaki-jinja. It was one of the four main Shinto shrines built in 794 by Emperor Kanmu to protect Heian-kyo, the new imperial capital. The shrine is also nicknamed Usagi-jinja, which means “the rabbit’s shrine.” and there are cute rabbit statues everywhere you look.

The shrine is dedicated to the kami Susano-no-Mikoto and Kushinadahime-no-Mikoto from Japanese mythology. They had many children so the shrine is known for prosperity and childbirth, especially for those who are trying to conceive. The rabbits surrounding the shrine are also seen as a sign of fertility.

As you enter the shrine, as if hopping to greet you, there are two rabbits in front of the main hall of worship. One with her mouth open and the other has hers closed.

It is very rare to see them, because in other shrines they are usually not rabbits but lion dogs known as komainu, the statues that can be found guarding the entrances.

Especially popular is the black rabbit statue that stands at the chozuyu water purification font to the right of the main hall. A place to wash hands, the rabbit is looking up at the full moon. People make wishes here by pouring water on the rabbit, and rubbing its stomach and then praying to hope to have a baby with a safe delivery.

When you pray, you’ll see two rabbits standing in front of you, in a one-paw-up pose a bit like a beckoning cat Maneki-Neko. These beckoning rabbits bring you good luck in love and money.

A common custom during hatsumōde is to buy a written oracle called an omikuji. If your omikuji predicts bad luck you can tie it onto a tree in the shrine grounds, in the hope that its prediction will not come true.

The omikuji goes into detail, and tells you how you will do in various areas in your life, such as business and love for that year, in a similar way to horoscopes in the West. Often a good-luck charm comes with the omikuji when you buy it, that is believed to summon good luck and money your way. This is mine for 2023 which I carry with me for the rest of the year. I think it’s a lucky year .

On New Year’s Eve (oh-misoka ) some Japanese people like to eat Toshikoshi Soba 年越しそば. Toshikoshi means end the old year and enter the new year. A hot bowl of buckwheat noodles eaten to symbolise good luck for the new year a head and it is also said to let go of hardships from the  previous year.  This simple meal of buckwheat soba noodles is served in a hot dashi broth which is full of umami flavour and garnished with chopped green onions. I like to add aburaage to mine instead of the traditional Kamaboko fish cake to make it vegan. For the dashi I use a kombu shiitake dashi then mirin,tamari and yuzu rind.

 I like to do this while watching the televised famous gigantic Buddhist temple bell at Chion-in Kyoto ringing the New Year .

It takes the combined force of seventeen monks to ring it. According to Buddhist teachings the number represents the 108 worldly desires that a person experience’s throughout the course of their life. When the bell is finally struck for the 108th time it is believed that you will be cleansed of your problems and worries from the last year. Joya-no-Kane refers to the annual ringing of bells on the night of New Year’s Eve at temples nationwide. The monks ring the temple bell 108 times 107 times on the 31st and once more when the clock strikes midnight to bridge the current year to the next. In fact, “joya” is one way of saying “New Year’s Eve” in Japanese while “kane” stands for “bell.”

Start New Year’s Day with a traditional Japanese breakfast. This breakfast soup said to be the most auspicious new year food and is part of Osechi Ryori. (Good luck food). Depending on the region in Japan the broth can either be clear or with miso .

Ozoni お雑煮 Enjoyed on the morning of New Year’s Day in Japan.

(Japanese New Year Mochi Soup – Kansai Style) . This style of soup from Kyoto region is made with Saikyo Miso (white miso from kyoto) and a round toasted Mochi. It is even more auspicious to add 5 ingredients I added daikon,carrot, komatsuna and Silken tofu with the mochi as the 5th ingredient.

Kanto style Ozoni (more popular in Tokyo and eastern Japan) which is a clear based soup known as Osumashi  made with kombu dashi, with mirin and tamari. I like to add a dried shiitake when soaking the kombu to add to the umami. The flavours are very delicate which is typical of Shojin Ryori . Ozoni お雑煮 means mixed boil which relates to the mixed ingredients you can use. This soup was believed to bring good luck to samurai warriors and was served on New Year’s Day. Mochi is served to represent long life because it stretches. Soak the kombu and shiitake over night. Simmer the dashi with carrot and daikon. Add some chopped komatsuna and a slice of Yuzu peel maybe . Toast your Mochi and put it all together. Serve on its own or with some simple rice and pickles, which makes a nice breakfast to start the day.

I make Osechi Ryori 御節料理 or お節料理 every year for New Year’s Day (Ganjitsu 元日).It is considered the most important meal of the year. Osechi Ryori is usually packed in lacquer boxes (ojubako) which come in layers stacked on-top of each other. There are many dishes in each layer each symbolize things like happiness, wealth and health for the next year ahead.

Even though I am not in Japan I feel making it can bring Japan closer to me with my food. And hopefully closer for you also. New year is a very important time and food has a lot of special meaning. I like to make what significant food I can with vegan ingredients.

Nishime 煮しめ (圧力鍋)

one-pot colorful stew of root vegetables, shiitake and koyadofu, simmered in dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce, sake, and mirin. These simmered dishes are called nimono (煮物).

  • Carrot – Welcome spring by shaping carrot into plum or cherry blossom shapes.
  • Lotus root – The holes of lotus root presents a clear and unobstructed future
  • Taro – Taro symbolizes fertility or descendants’ cut into hexagon that resembles a turtle shape represents longevity.

Namasu (なます) or also known as Kohaku Namasu (red and white)

(紅白なます) Red and white are considered celebratory colors in Japan. Julienned daikon and carrot pickled in a sweet vinegar with a hint of citrus.

Kuromame (Sweet Black Soybeans) 黒豆 served on New Year’s Day as a part of Osechi Ryori (traditional New Year’s meal) Eating kuromame is considered good for your health for the new year.

Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん Lotus root has been considered an auspicious food for the Japanese New Year because lotus root with its many holes is a symbol of an unobstructed view of the future.

Kuri Kinton (Candied Chestnuts and Sweet Potatoes) 栗きんとんchestnut gold mash. This dish symbolises fortune and wealth for a prosperous year ahead.

Amazake 甘酒 is also popular at new year along with sake. Many Shinto shrines sell or provide amazake on New Year’s Eve. There is also a herb sake called O-toso drunk at new year. Drinking O-toso is said to ward off infectious diseases like colds for the year.

You may see the wooden chopsticks I am using wrapped in red and white paper. They are called Iwai-bashi. These are chopsticks used for festive occasions. Both ends of the chopsticks are thinner, which means that one end is used by the Gods, and the other one by people. This represents the Gods and people eating together.

Other things that might be done on New Year’s Day, maybe the giving of new year cards known as nengajo to friends or relatives. Children will receive little money envelopes known as otoshidama, it is also customary to play games like badminton or go out and fly a kite. Board games like backgammon or snakes and ladders maybe played or children play with tradition spinning tops.

How to say Happy New year, if you wish to say happy new year to someone in Japanese and it is not yet new year then say Yoi Otoshio, if it is already new year say akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

I hope that no matter if your in Japan or not that you might be able to, like me, bring a little of the Japanese traditions into your home. Why not make soba or make special food for the new year. Make a wish as you watch the sunrise or set new year goals with a daruma doll.

However you spend it I wish you all a healthy happy 2023 .


Happy New Year to you all !

Blog, Winter Food

Candied Yuzu peel for the Winter Solstice

This is the time of the  shortest day the Winter Solstice known in the Japanese micro season as Touji ( Toji ) (冬至). If you have been following my Japanese micro seasonal blog posts you will know by now that Japanese people like to mark the changing of the seasons. Japanese people celebrate the solstice as they welcome the return of longer days, they pray for good health and eat auspicious food.

Yuzu is a sunny winter citrus fruit and is known for its cleansing properties, it is said the strong smell of Yuzu will drive away evil spirits. It has a rich source of vitamin C which is good for the immunity. The fruit is known for its cleansing properties and its fragrance lowers tension and helps fatigue. This is why it is also popular to visit an onsen and bathe with Yuzu fruit. This bath is called Yuzuyu and the essential oils from the fruit help soothe the skin and mind. It is also said the strong smell of Yuzu will drive away evil spirits. I always like to use Yuzu in a recipe for the solstice it reminds me of the sun and the citrus flavour gives hints of summer days.

I had just recently been gifted quite a few fresh Yuzu fruit and I decided I would make candied Yuzu peel for the winter season, as using yuzu is quite popular at this time of year 

Candied Yuzu can be eaten like a wagashi with green tea. Fresh yuzu peel has a floral aroma and tart flavour of grapefruit and mandarin. A delcious treat on it’s own or how about taking it one step further and dip it in chocolate. Mix into pastries, creams, ice cream and sorbet or use as topping on desserts or canapes. Not only does making candied Yuzu peel make this delicious Japanese treat but the by product is something called Yuzu cha 柚子茶 . Basically a Yuzu marmalade you mix with hot water.

The tea has a distinctive citrusy aroma and is delicious and comforting. A perfect drink for winter, or why not try this tangy marmalade spread over toast for breakfast. 

This is how I made candied Yuzu peel

Slice your Yuzu in half and juice them ( you will find Yuzu contain more seeds than juice ) strain out as much juice as you can, put this in the fridge for later.

Then scrape out as much of the flesh and white skin inside the fruit so you are left with just the skin.

Slice the skin into thin strips, then put in to a pan and cover with cold water.

Bring the pan to a simmer and pour out the water. Do this again another two times. Then leave the skin to soak in cold water over night.

In the morning drain your skin and add it back to the pan with the Yuzu juice along with x2 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup water. This ratio was used using 9 Yuzu fruit so if you have less you may have to divide this and use your own judgment.
Start to simmer the Yuzu fruit stirring occasionally until it becomes a thick sticky mixture ( this is your Yuzu cha ).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully pick out using chopsticks the  Yuzu peel and lay it on the baking sheet, leaving a few to add to your Yuzu cha.

When you have filled the baking sheet bake the Yuzu peel for 1 hour in a cool 100 degree oven.

For the Yuzu cha pour the sticky mixture into a sterilised jar adding a few Yuzu peel stripes. I then put mine in the fridge to set. When you want to make your comforting drink just add a teaspoon to a cup and add hot water.

When your candied peel has been baked for an hour take it out and roll the pieces in sugar.

Add your peel to little bags for gifts or into a jar to use later.

You can buy fresh Yuzu when in season from You can also check out my other recipes and more posts on the winter solstice just search Yuzu or Touji ( Toji ) for more.

A popular wagashi eaten in winter is Yōkan (羊羹) typically made with red bean paste and in the autumn/winter filled with fruits such as persimmon or figs, chestnuts or Japanese sweet potato. I decided to use the candied Yuzu for a citrus yokan wagashi for the solstice. The wagashi is very simple to make using just sweet bean paste, water, yuzu juice and agar agar powder. Just use the recipe for mizu yokan on this website but take out a tablespoon of the water and add Yuzu juice instead. For a thicker yokan you can double the recipe. Pour the mixture into your chosen mould and leave to slightly set then top your yokan with some of the candied Yuzu peel, you can even add festive nuts to the top if you wish. Leave in the fridge for a few hours or over night to set completely.

Enjoy as part of your winter solstice celebrations and look forward to the sun returning once more. Happy Winter Solstice.

Autumn Food, Blog

Niiname-sai 新嘗 Japanese Thanksgiving

Niiname-sai 新嘗 Japanese Thanksgiving

Held on the of 23rd November.

Now also celebrated as a non-religious public holiday known as ‘Labor Thanksgiving Day.’

The day was originally called Niiname-sai 新嘗祭 the “autumn festival.” and was the day of gratitude for the harvest season to deities and those involved in the hard work of farming food production. Niiname-sai is celebrated in the Shinto religion on this day with events held at shrines across the country.

The Shinto gods of harvest are believed to live in the mountains during the winter. At the end of the harvest season each year, the gods return to the mountains then are welcomed back the following spring for planting season.

The term itself often translates to “celebration of the first taste”, In the festival, various kinds of products including newly harvested rice known as Shinmai 新米 and vegetables produced by local farmers are offered on the altar to the kami, ( spirits) expressing gratitude for a rich harvest. Shinmai officially, is rice that is harvested, processed, and packaged for sale before 31st December of that year. Shinmai usually becomes available in early autumn and remains available only until the end of the year. On the day of Niiname-sai, many shrine worshippers attend the festival.

The sharing of food and drink with the gods is called “naorai”. Today, the term naorai can refer to sharing drinks or rice cakes with friends. Eating shinmai is a treasured and celebrated time.

I thought it would be nice to make a simple rice dish made and eaten by mountain workers in japan. The workers would stick rice on pieces of wood and grill them, eating them spread with miso paste while drinking sake, to pray for their safety when working in the mountains. This meal is known as “Gohei-mochi”

Gohei mochi is a centuries old local cuisine which may date back to the middle of the Edo period (about 1700 – 1750) originating in the Chubu mountainous regions specifically in Nagano, Gifu and Aichi prefectures around central Japan.

There are many theories as to the origin of the name “Gohei mochi “; some say it was created in the shape of a “gohei” (ritual wand with pleated paper), an offering to the gods.

Rice is mashed into a mochi like consistency but keeping some of the grains visible then either formed into the shape of waraji a traditional sandal or rolled into dango . It is then skewered and coated with soy sauce and sugar popular in the Kiso valley and Hilda region. Or covered in miso which is considered the Aichi Prefecture region’s specialty. You may of seen the anime  film Your Name which is set in the Hida region and characters are seen eating goheimochi in various scenes, which increased its popularity.

Other examples of goheimochi sauce include honey and walnut so with this in mind I decided to make a combination of a sweet walnut and miso paste to coat the mochi rice balls.

This is how I made Gohei Mochi

For the mochi

1 cup (the cup you get with your rice cooker) of uncooked Japanese rice which is short-grain, sticky rice. Then rinse the rice thoroughly in water.

( I added a little amaranth grain to mine ) cook with 1 and a half rice cooker cups of water in your rice cooker.

While it’s cooking make you sweet walnut miso paste topping.

Sweet walnut miso paste topping

Toast 20g of walnuts in a pan til fragrant then add this to a suribachi ( mortar and pestle ) then add 20g of toasted white sesame seeds to the walnuts and grind into a grainy powder. Or like I did you can use already toasted and ground sesame seeds called Suri Goma すりごま

Add to a pan

1tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp of mirin

And 40g sugar

Gently heat and mix well until the sugar has dissolved

Turn off the heat and then mix in 1 tbsp of miso paste stirring to combine without lumps.

Mix your walnuts and sesame into the miso mixture.

Spoon into a bowl and set aside.

When your rice is cooked let it steam further for ten minutes then tip into a bowl . Using your surikogi pestle pound the fresh steamed rice until the grains are half-crushed.

Using damp hands take potions of rice and form into equal balls .
( I used wooden chop sticks the type you get with takeaway food as a skewer as they are thicker and the rice sticks better) push the rice balls  through the wooden skewer adding three to a skewer you can then mould the rice balls around the skewer.

Wipe a pan with oil ( I used toasted sesame ) you don’t want the rice sitting in oil and  cook both sides of the Gohei mochi lightly in a pan to make them less prone to falling apart.

Now spread your sweet walnut miso paste on the top of Gohei mochi . Wrap the visible wooden skewer with silver foil so it doesn’t burn . Sprinkle a few sesame seeds on-top and toast under the grill.

Enjoy straight away, for a delicious snack that’s warm chewy, sweet nutty and toasty.  If you have some of walnut miso mixture left it is delicious to use on tofu or nasu dengaku you add a little extra warm water to make into a dressing to drizzle over vegetables or mix into green beans. 

Other meals you could make to celebrate Japanese thanksgiving could be chirashi sushi ( sushi rice with lots of seasonal toppings or mixed rice ( Takikomi Gohan ) .

Autumn Food, Blog

Inoko Mochi 亥の子餅 (Baby Boar Cake A Seasonal Delight)

From late October to November you may see this confectionery in wagashi stores throughout Japan. It is custom to eat this Japanese sesame delight on “inoko no hi” 亥の子の日 Baby Boar Day . The wagashi is normally eaten on the day of the boar ( this year 2022 being Sunday the 6th of November) for a prayer for good health. These wagashi are served at this time as part of a Japanese tea ceremony known as “Robiraki” 炉開き which is when the brazier set in the tatami mat is opened for the winter season. This is because the wild boar is believed to be a messenger of the Buddhist god of war and fire. It is also custom at this time to start using heating devices like the kotatsu 炬燵. The winter hearth is opened on the first wild boar day and tea is served with inoko mochi.

I decided to make inoko mochi wagashi 亥の子餅 baby boar cake. After the Halloween festivities it’s something that little bit different and still keeping in with the Japanese seasons. Black sesame is used to look like the spots on a wild boar piglet. The mochi is also seared with markings on the surface.

This is how I made Baby Boar Piglet Mochi ( Inoko Mochi )

Mix 30grm Shiratama flour with 4 and 1/2 tablespoons of water add 30grms of Joshinko flour and 50grms of sugar and mix again. Then mix in 30grms of mashed bean paste and 8grms of black sesame seeds.

Place a metal pancake ring inside a steamer and cover with a muslin cloth. Spoon the mixture inside the ring and steam for 15mins.

Meanwhile make x8 balls of bean paste ( 160grms = 20grms each ball)

Tip the steamed Mochi out into a bowl and mash, then tip out onto a surface with potato starch.  Divide the Mochi into 8 pieces. Flatten each piece and place a ball of bean paste inside and fold the mochi over. Roll and shape into a piglet.

Heat a metal rod and sear each Mochi with three stripes. Enjoy with matcha or your favourite Japanese tea to celebrate the changing seasons. The searing of the mochi gives it a lovely toasted sesame flavour.

I served mine with a hojicha latte and sprinkled  it with powdered ginger to make it extra warming.



The Power of Five

Shojin Ryori the heart of seasonal Buddhist cuisine.
The word Sho in Shojin means to focus on and I find that preparing a Japanese meal in my own tiny kitchen helps me be more mindful. Despite the meals being of humble ingredients the vegetables used relate to the seasons helping us focus on the hear and now. In summer we may use cooling watery cucumber and tomatoes, in the winter pumpkins and root vegetables like daikon and potatoes warm and fuel our bodies.

Locally grown vegetables for sale outside a restaurant in Kyoto 

When cooking Japanese temple food, a temple chef known as “Tenzo”makes sure the menu has 5 colours of ingredients:  Green such as leafy vegetables, red could be azuki beans, yellow such as root vegetables, white, as rice and tofu, and black (purple) such as mushrooms and kelps. By including 5 colours, the menu is considered tastefully balanced.

This can be taken further still, temple chefs should prepare every meal consisting of five tastes. Five tastes are: bitter, sour, sweet, salty and umami. To produce this five essential seasonings are used: sugar,salt, vinegar, soy sauce and miso. These flavourings draw out the flavours in the vegetables used and are used sparingly so as not to mask them.

In Shojin Ryori cuisine ingredients with a strong pungent flavour such as garlic and onions are not used.

Five cooking techniques should be used to prepare the food : raw, stewed, boiled, roasted and steamed. This can vary and other techniques like marinate, fried, simmered or grilled could also be used.

These tastes and textures are composed to harmonise the five senses. With the presentation of each dish being equally important. The blending and balance of colours and flavours.

Another way you could combine colours and flavours could be:

Sweet: corn, sweet potato,turnip,carrot, Kabocha, fruit, sugar, mirin. Salty: miso, soy sauce, salt.
Sour : vinegar, umeboshi, tomatoes, lime, lemon.
Bitter: Goya, kale, chard, asparagus, eggplant.
Umami: seaweed, mushrooms

When the carefully prepared meal is ready to be served in a monastery the Tenzo will sound a gong known as an “Umpan” this translates to cloud plate. Typically you will find these gongs outside the kitchen or dining hall area. Look out for one next time you visit a temple in Japan.

Instead of eating a lot of food piled up on one plate Oryoki bowls are used. A set of nested bowls that sit inside each other. The meal is served up in these bowls Continue reading…


Summer Solstice (Geshi 夏至)

Around June 21 is Geshi 夏至 (the Summer Solstice). The day when the daytime is the longest and night is  shortest.

In japan unlike  other solar events very little happens by way of celebration. The Spring/autumnal equinox are called Ohigan or Higan and along with the Winter solstice these are more important than the summer solstice especially the winter solstice because it means revival of the Sun.

There is one significant Shinto ritual that takes place involving the Meoto Iwa rocks at dawn on Summer Solstice. The Meoto Iwa (“Married Couple Rocks”) are two giant rocks on the sea shore of Futami, Ise. Meoto-iwa is close to Grand shrine of ISE. (Head of Japan’s all nature worship)

They  have deep spiritual significance as Shinto is known as nature worship. The rocks are linked by a huge shimenawa straw rope and the largest rock has a tori gate. Both of these things represent that the Meoto Iwa rocks belong to the world of kami.

The best English translation of kami is ‘spirits’, but this is an over-simplification of a complex concept – kami can be elements of the landscape or forces of nature.

On the summer solstice the sun appears to rise right between the rocks. At daybreak, hundreds of Shintoists will also greet the Sun before the great rocks and enter the ocean as the sun rises between the rocks in a ceremony called Geshisai – literally, “Summer Solstice Rite.” Participants of this ceremony  purify their body in the sea  and watch the sunrise while singing Japan’s national anthem called Kimigayo.

Religious purification with water is called Misogi in Shinto. You may have done this yourself when entering a Shinto shrine washing your hands and mouth.

The end of June is very much a time for purification rituals in japan.

Minazuki is the name of the white  triangle shaped wagashi (Japanese sweet) that is eaten on the 30th of June.
It is taken from a Shinto ritual called Ooharae on the 30th of June and the 30th of December for the purification of sins and bad luck from the first or second half of the year.
The triangle shape is meant to resemble a block of ice ( chasing away the summer heat) and the azuki beans signify the exorcism of devils.

You may also see at Shinto shrines rings of straw called  Chinowa (the ring of purification)

People walk through a ring of straw for purification.

Around this time is the peak of the rice-planting season. In old lore, the long, straggly roots of the rice plant were thought to resemble octopus legs. Thus, in the Kansai region in particular, people eat octopus at this time of year as a good omen. One meal that is popular Is octopus and ginger rice as well as fried octopus.

With this in mind I decided to make a vegan version of this summer solstice meal.

Ginger rice made with fresh ginger juice and Vegan calamari with a squeeze of lemon and wasabi vegan mayonnaise .

I made the vegan version of calamari with hearts of palm. If you’re concerned about the sustainability of heart of palms, rest assured that, unlike some palm oils, most canned varieties of this veggie comes from farmed peach palms.

Just slice the canned hearts of palm and push out the centre to form a ring. Coat in potato starch and shallow fry. The ginger rice was made by adding ginger juice, mirin and tamari into the cooking water of the rice.

Also served with a Japanese potato salad and a cucumber and Myoga Tsukemono.

As a sunny dessert I chose a delicious mango jelly wagashi from minamoto  kitchoan you can also freeze this jelly for a refreshing sherbet.

The traditional Japanese micro seasonal calendar breaks down as follows:

Four seasons 四季 / shiki break down into 24 sub seasons 二十四節気 / nijyushisekki and further into 72 micro seasons 七十二候 / shichijyunikou.

If you would like to read more about The 10th sub season of the year 夏至 Geshi (Summer solstice) breaking down into further micro seasons:

June 21–26 乃東枯 Natsukarekusa karuru Self-heal withers

June 27–July 1 菖蒲華 Ayame hana saku Irises bloom

July 2–6 半夏生 Hange shōzu Crow-dipper sprouts

Read the micro seasonal post relating to this which you can find on the drop down menu.

Blog, Summer Food

Wagashi no hi

Wagashi no hi (the Day of Japanese Confectionery)


Starting in the Heian period, the Emperor Ninmyo prayed to the gods with an offering of 16 wagashi on June 16th to pray for his people to live healthy and happy lives when a plague spread throughout Japan.

With the popularity of tea and sugar during the Edo period ( 1603-1867) due to sugar being more widely available the development of stores selling sweets to be eaten with tea flourished. Before this tea was introduced in the Kamakura period ( 1185-1333) and zen monks partook in drinking tea with a small snack.

With demand, different wagashi stores introduced their own styles of sweets. Kyoto style wagashi were beautiful edible pieces of art to be eaten with a tea ceremony where as Tokyo style wagashi were more simple in design.

Wagashi comes in so many shapes and is a wide term for many varieties of Japanese desserts and confectionery as well as sweets  eaten with green tea. Wagashi plays an important role in representing the seasons and you may find  motifs used in the confectionery each month  bringing a celebration of nature from the cherry blossoms of early spring with the wagashi known as Sakura Mochi to traditional sweets eaten at the equinoxes and offered to ancestors known an Ohagi .

In the autumn you may see wagashi shaped like maple leaves, chestnuts or persimmon. Summer wagashi maybe in the form of a cooling jelly or kuzu kiri, where as winter wagashi could be a zenzai

( warm red beans with Dango or Mochi )

Wagashi are normally consumed with green tea, the bitter taste of matcha is complimented by eating a sweet before hand never together.

The word wagashi is made up of two characters wa ( Japanese) and kashi/gashi (菓子 sweets). There are different forms of wagashi : Namagashi or fresh which are normally kept refrigerated and eaten on the same day, Mushi which  are steamed like manju or uirou ,  Mochi the ones we all know so well like Dango, Nagagashi which contain a coagulation ingredient like kanten or agar agar which we normally see in the form of summer jellies or yokan.

Yaki gashi are confections that are cooked think something like dorayaki or Taiyaki.

Nerikiri are the wagashi you normally find at Japanese tea ceremonies they consist of bean paste normally in a variety of colours that has been mixed with a binder like rice flour and come in a variety of shapes ( normally depicting a flower or something of the season). Higashi is a dry confection and can come in the form of a hard candy or wasanbon made from fine grained sugar. The most common being rakugan which come in a variety of shapes. Beika refer to snacks made from rice like senbei.

Agegashi refer to deep fried snacks like karinto.
Have you tried any of these types of wagashi yourself? You may have visited a Japanese tea shop or visited a family run wagashi store or maybe been bought them as a gift which is a very popular thing to do in Japan.

If you would like to purchase some beautiful wagashi yourself and your not in Japan the online store Minamoto Kichoan have a wonderful selection. They also have their own stores around the world and their flagship store in Ginza Tokyo selling their tradition confectionery made in Japan, many are seasonal with summer confections of jelly like this Kingyo jelly or ones containing fruits.

Autumn ones may contain things like nuts like their Gozenguri

or my favourite one the Suikanshuku which has a whole dried persimmon filled with white bean paste.

Just check the ingredients if you are wanting vegan ones as some contain egg.

I have some recipes for you to try making your own at home from Dango to yokan, Sakura Mochi and daifuku why not give it a try. You could make them for a special occasion or to honour an event. Why not try making Ohagi at the equinox or minazuki at the end of June.

A pyramid stack of Dango are offered to the moon for the moon viewing festival Tsukimi around September-October. 

or maybe you could make hanami Dango (three colour Dango balls for Hinamatsuri).

I hope you can try making some wagashi for yourself they also make nice gifts or enjoy them with friends for tea time.

In the summer when the weather heats up you could try making a refreshing jelly wagashi. I recently purchased some 100% Mikan juice made in Wakayama from the wasabi company.

Mikan is one of the most popular citrus fruits in Japan it’s sweet and refreshing and can be used to make salad dressings, or cocktails. It’s nice as a thirst quenching drink mixed with sparkling water or frozen for an ice lolly.

For wagashi day I decided to make a simple , very easy to make jelly.  To make it more appealing I served it as orange segments.

All you need is one orange cut in half and scoop out the fruit.
Add to a pan one cup of Mikan juice and sprinkle over one teaspoon of powdered agar agar. Gently heat up the Mikan juice and take off the heat before it boils. Allow to cool slightly and put it in the fridge for 5 mins to slightly thicken. Remove from the fridge and pour the Mikan juice into your orange halves. Allowing it to thicken will stop any leaks.

Place your orange halves in the fridge to set. When ready to serve slice a half into a further half to serve as an orange segment. Delicious on a hot day with an ice cold matcha.

Wagashi no hi’  was established by ‘Zenkoku Wagashi Kyokai’ (Japan Wagashi Association) in 1979. It is now observed every year on June 16. I’m not sure I want to eat 16 wagashi but it’s nice to have one with a green tea and wish for health and happiness.

Seasonal shop window  wagashi displays in Kyoto

Blog, Spring Food

Mother’s Day in Japan Haha no Hi 母の日

How do Japanese people celebrate Mother’s Day ?

Mother’s Day was once combined with the celebration of the Empress’ Kojun birthday who was the mother of Akihito (Japan’s emperor at the time). Her birthday was celebrated on the 6th March 1931. It wasn’t until 1949 that the Japanese decided to align the holiday to be on the same date as other countries being on the second Sunday of May, which means this year, it will fall on Sunday 8th May. Unlike the U.K. which has their Mother’s Day back in March.

In Japan, mother’s day is called ‘Haha no hi’; the word ‘haha’ is the informal term for your own mother – much like we use the word ‘mum’! The formal term for mother in Japanese is ‘Okaasan’.

Japanese children use this day to show their love and appreciation, and to give presents to their mothers. It has now become one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants and shops.

The most common gift on Japanese Mother’s Day are carnations especially the red or pink variety. In Japan it is a symbol of a mother’s purity, sweetness and endurance.

Throughout Japan, businesses and well-known department stores decorate their window displays with carnations although the carnations is not native to Japan, their symbolism has become a popular choice for Mother’s Day.

Other gifts given on Mother’s Day could be carefully drawn kanji calligraphy, personalised arts and crafts, clothing or Lacquerware jewellery boxes.

This Fukunishi Sobe Chrysanthemum Aizu Lacquer Two Tiers Jubako Bento Box from musubikiln, could easily be used to store treasured items .

Mothers are celebrated for their home cooking in Japan. The memory and uniqueness of one’s own mother’s food is encapsulated in the term ‘ofukuro-no-aji’ or ‘that unforgettable taste of one’s own mother’s cooking.’ I have talked about this in another of my blog posts, “Natsukashii & Ofukuro no aji” A taste of home. 

On Mother’s Day children often rise early to greet their mothers with flowers and breakfast. Mother’s Day in Japan is symbolically associated with eggs, so whipping up an egg-based Japanese dish is a way  to celebrate! Some egg dishes include Oyakodon A chicken and egg rice dish which literally translates as ‘parent-and-child-donburi’. Chawanmushi (savory steamed egg custard) Tamagoyaki (Japanese egg omelet or Omurice ( omelette over rice)

However if your vegan you could easily make something similar by substituting the eggs for tofu. There are now quite a few egg replacements on the market but I still like to use tofu and I think  it also makes it a little more authentic for a Japanese meal. 

How about making a tofu scramble to surprise your mother for a special breakfast. 

or my omurice recipe for a delicious lunch you could even make a special afternoon tea with vegan egg shokupan sandwiches. 

A special meal could be something like chirashi sushi a scattered vegetable sushi that you could make pretty by using flower shaped vegetable cutters and adding vegan scrambled eggs. 

If you are in the U.K. you could surprise your mother with a Japanese Mother’s Day for an extra special gift. If you are celebrating this day on the same day as japan why not include some carnations in your gift or make a Japanese themed meal.

Greet her in the morning with

Ohayōgozaimasu Happī haha no hi

Good morning happy Mother’s Day.

Haha itsumo arigatou – Mum, thank you for everything.

How to make tofu vegan omurice オムライス

A classic Japanese comforting home cooked dish, popular among children and adults-alike.

Add to cooked rice some sautéed chopped vegetables of choice like bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, sweetcorn etc then place back in your rice cooker on warm.

Then make your omelette batter.

Half a block of silken tofu, 2/3 cup of plant based milk,2 table spoons of nutritional yeast,1/2 teaspoon of turmeric,1 tablespoon of potato starch, salt and pepper and a teaspoon of ground Kala namak also known as Himalayan black salt this will give your omelette a slightly eggy flavour. Blend all this together in a food processor .

Spoon the mixture on to some parchment paper that’s been cut to fit your frying pan ( skillet) and spread it out. This is my non stick no oil tried and tested way to make my tofu omelette.  I find it easier to cook on one side, adding a lid over it while it cooks, then to turn it top the mixture with another sheet of parchment paper slide it from the skillet and on to a plate and then flip it over back onto your skillet.

Spoon your vegetable rice onto a plate and top with your omelette .

In Japan you often see this dish topped with tomato ketchup.

Alternatively you can leave the omelette in the pan and spoon the rice onto half the omelette then fold over the rice with the other half and slide off the parchment paper onto a plate .


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


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 !


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