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Bean Paste

Blog, Spring Food

Zunda Botamochi for Shunbun (Spring Equinox)


The bi-annual days of the vernal equinox are upon us once more. You can see the signs of life awakening from their winter sleep.
In Japan it is a Buddhist festival known as higan. In the spring it is known as haru no higan . To celebrate I always make Botamochi. This is a traditional confectionery made of sweet mochi rice pounded and shaped with a red bean centre . It is traditional to take these with flowers and incense to the graves of ancestors at this time. In the spring the sweets are called Botamochi named after the tree peony botan . In the fall the same sweets are called ohagi named after the clover bush hagi.


This year I wanted to make something that represented the bright green shoots and buds of spring. When I received some early broad beans in my organic vegetable box I had an idea to use them for not only the colour but that fresh taste of spring.


Broad beans or fava beans are called sora-mamé
ソラマメ ( ) or “sky beans” in Japan. They are called sky beans as the bean pod’s point upwards toward the sky when they are growing. Not only tasty but packed with protein and vitamin A.

The word “Zunda (ずんだ)” means the green paste as a result of hitting or mashing. Zunda is often made with edamame and is the boiled beans mashed with sugar and a specialty of Sendai City in Miyagi prefecture. Using the same method as when using edamame I utilised what I had to made Spring Green Zunda Botamochi. The result is pounded mochi rice with a sweet bean paste filling and sweet sora mame paste on the outside. I served them with a pink sakura soy latte. If you want to know how to make the latte just search in my recipes.

How I made Zunda Botamochi

1/2 a rice cooker cup of sweet mochi rice & 1/2 Japanese rice. Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear, drain in a sieve and leave to air for ten minutes, after this time add this to your rice cooker or pan with 2 rice cooker cups of water. (The cup is equal to 180ml) Leave the rice to soak while you make your Zunda.

The beans first need to be taken out of their original outer long pod. You first need to blanch them in a pan of boiling water and boil for two minutes.

After this time drain and drop the beans into ice water to stop them over cooking.

Now here’s the magic. You need to remove the out skin of the bean this is known as double podding. When you do a vibrant green bean will emerge from the dull skin. Now that’s the colour of spring!

Next you need to mash the beans I do this using my suribachi (Japanese mortar and pestle).

Then add two tablespoon of granulated sugar. Grind this all into the bean mixture really well. Then place in the fridge to firm up.

Put your rice on cook.

When the rice is done you will also need some sweet bean paste.
Remove the Zunda from the fridge.

Start to mash your rice it will become sticky due to the sweet mochi rice we used. You want to be able to see some of the grains so don’t mash too much.

Then scoop out about a tablespoon of rice and with wet hands roll it into a ball then flatten it. Roll a small ball of sweet bean paste and put this in the middle of the rice, then fold the rice over and make it into a ball shape again.

Take some of your Zunda and start to form it around the mochi rice ball you can do this with a piece of plastic wrap if you wish.

Keep doing this until you have made the desired amount.

Maybe finish by decorating them with a pickled preserved salted Sakura flower.

If you like you can also make some of the more traditional Ohagi by rolling the rice balls in kinako and ground black sesame.

If you have some Zunda left why not make Zunda dango mochi which is a treat you will see often in Sendai using edamame.

We can now look forward to longer days and the chill of winter turns into warmer weather. Who is ready for Spring? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog, Spring Food

Tsubaki-mochi (椿餅) camellia leaf mochi

 


Risshun is the first micro season in the cycle of 24 sekki, this season translates to “Spring Rises”. This is the coldest season, but emotionally we are gradually beginning to feel the end of winter and the arrival of Spring. The first blooms of camellias and ume blossom bring positive energies, the days start to get slightly longer and life is starting to emerge from the earth.
Tsubaki-mochi is an oval shaped domyoji mochi, a freshly made rice cake with azuki bean paste wrapped in tsubaki (camellia leaves). This confectionery has been eaten in Japan since the Heian period and is now often served at tea ceremonies as a Kyoto confectionery during the month of February in Japan.

The leaves are not edible but are the same family as tea and traditionally used as a non-stick wrapper for some sticky sweets.

This confectionery has been eaten in Japan for about 1100 years and is believed to be the oldest mochi sweet, often being referred to as the origin of wagashi. This Japanese confectionery was written about in The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) 源氏物語 in the 11th century. Genji tale is the oldest long novel in the world written by a woman writer, Murasaki Shikibu about 1008 in Japan. You can see her statue placed at one end of the Uji Bridge in Uji Kyoto where the tale of Genji was a prime setting.


In Genji tale, young men were eating tsubaki rice cake, citrus fruits and pears in the lids of bamboo baskets after playing kemari; the ancient football game of the imperial court.

When I read that mochi powder (present-day Domyoji powder) was made by drying glutinous rice and grinding it in a mortar and was used to make tsubaki-mochi I decided to try making my own as I have never been able to obtain domyoji powder.

Recipe for x5 tsubaki-mochi:

First grind 1 rice cooker cup of glutinous mochi (you can use a suribachi Japanese mortar & pestle grinding bowl). However this can take a while to grind so I used an electric blender, you could also use a clean coffee grinder. This is going to be your Domyoji substitute. You do not want a powder you just need to break up the rice grains so giving it a few blitz in your blender will be enough.

Note: The plastic rice cooker cup that comes with the rice cooker is 3/4 cup (180ml). In Japan, this amount is called ichi go (一合).

You will also need 25grams of granulated sugar.

Add the ground rice to a bowl with the sugar and add one rice cooker cup of hot water stir and leave over night to soak.

After your rice has been soaking over night.

You will need 100grams of red sweet bean paste smooth koshian or chunky tsubuan and x10 camellia leaves wiped clean.

You will also need to make a sugar syrup 25ml of hot water and 25grams of granulated sugar. (or you can use the syrup that comes with the kuri kanroni candied chestnuts from making Osechi for new year.

I have read that tsubaki-mochi can also sometimes be flavoured with a hint of cinnamon or clove. If you would like to do this that is your own preference.

First make a syrup by adding the 25 grams of sugar to 25ml of hot water and stir to combine heat in a pan or in a microwave until boiling and then cool to room temperature if not using kanroni syrup.

Then make your mochi:

Take the rice that has been soaking in sugar over night and add this to your rice cooker and add one rice cooker cup of water. Set your timer to cook short grain rice.

Roll your sweet bean paste into 20 gram balls makes x5 balls and put to one side and wipe clean your camellia leaves.

When the rice is cooked let it steam for a further fifteen minutes. Take your mochi and mash it to a sticky consistency, I usually use the end of a rolling pin, you could use the pestle from the suribachi known as a Surikogi. Turn the mochi out onto a surface and cut into five equal pieces.

Wet your hands with the syrup and roll each piece into a ball. Place each ball into the palm of your hand and flatten adding one ball of bean paste in the middle, work the mochi over the bean paste making an oval shaped ball.

Keep wetting your hands with sugar syrup or kanroni syrup as you go. Sandwich each mochi ball in between two camellia leaves (not edible) use the leaves to hold the mochi when eating.

These delicious sweets are perfect with a sencha green tea or hojicha please enjoy and savour the coming of Spring.

Autumn Food, Blog

Otsukimi (お月見) & Moon Cakes 月餅

Tsukimi (月見) or Otsukimi (お月見), meaning, “moon-viewing”, also known as Jugoya (十五夜), is a Japanese festival honoring the autumn moon and the seasonal harvest. People often accompany moon viewing with tea ceremonies and eat seasonal produce, like chestnuts, kabocha, taro potato and  edamame. Often Tsukimi Dango is eaten to represent the full moon, which you can read about on some of my previous blog posts for this time.

Another traditional sweet to represent the full moon are moon cakes. In China this festival is called “The Mid-Autumn Festival” and these cakes are offered at family gatherings at this time. Even though moon cakes are popular in China they are also eaten in Japan and are known as geppei 月餅 and are slightly different to their Chinese counterparts. The main difference between Japanese and Chinese moon cakes is the crust. Chinese moon cakes have a thin, flaky crust made from glutinous rice flour, while Japanese moon cakes have a thicker crust made from regular wheat flour. Also the fillings are different instead of sweet lotus seed paste, Japanese moon cakes are often  filled with azuki bean paste and nuts such as chestnuts.

These delicious pastries are perfect for celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival and can be enjoyed with a green tea to balance out the sweetness. They also make pretty seasonal gifts for family and friends.

Mooncakes how ever are not normally vegan but now you can try my simple vegan recipe for yourself that I have been making every year. All you will need to do is order yourself a moon cake press from somewhere like Amazon or EBay.
Once you have your press gather together the rest of your ingredients.

200g of plain white flour

120g of brown rice syrup (over the years I have also used maple syrup and even date syrup)

x4 teaspoons of odourless oil like coconut butter

2-3 tablespoon of soy milk

Potato starch for dusting

Extra soy milk to glaze and maple syrup to glaze after cooking.

Filling:

Red bean tsubuan paste.

Whole roasted chestnuts (I used the precooked ones you get in a packet)

Chopped mixed nuts and fruit (a variety like cashew, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, raisins, cranberries.)

A few drops of toasted sesame oil.

You will also need some weighing scales and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Method:

Put your flour into a bowl.

In a separate bowl add your oil and syrup and mix.

Add the syrup and oil mixture to your flour and combine then add a tablespoon at a time of your soy milk until you form a dough.

Wrap your dough in film and place in the freezer to firm while you chop your nuts and fruit.
To make two kinds of moon cakes one with sweet bean paste and chopped fruit and nuts and one with bean paste and a whole chestnut.

Chop a selection of nuts and fruit and mix with sweet bean paste you will need about 150g of bean paste and a few tablespoons of fruit and nut. Mix together and add a few drops of toasted sesame oil and mix in. Roll into 30g balls.

For your chestnut filling take a 20g ball of bean paste and roll into a ball flatten the ball and place a chestnut in the middle then fold the bean paste over the chestnut.

Remove the dough from the freezer tear off chunks of dough and weigh them to make 30g balls.

Dust your surface with potato starch and flatten the balls, then  place a bean paste ball in the middle. Fold over the dough and make in to a ball.


Roll the ball in potato starch and dust your press with potato starch also so nothing sticks. Place the ball inside and turn the press down on to your surface. Press down gently then lift the press to reveal your mooncake. Don’t worry you make get a few not so pretty ones to start with until you get the hang of it. Place each moon cake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

I made four chopped nuts and five chestnut filling ones as I had a few that didn’t quite work at the beginning.

Brush each cake with soy milk and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Take out the oven and allow to cool fully, then brush the tops with maple syrup. You can store them in an airtight container for a few days.

When you would like to eat them I recommend placing them in a microwave for 10-20 seconds to slightly warm and soften the cake. It makes them even more delicious as otherwise the pastry is more like a biscuit.

Enjoy and Happy Moon viewing.

Autumn Food, Blog

Autumn Equinox Taro Mochi Ohagi

The Autumn Equinox 秋分 is the 16th micro season in the 24 micro seasonal calendar marking the first day of Autumn and is known as Shūbun. Buddhists call the Autumn Equinox O-Higan or Aki no Higan. Higan translates to “other shore” meaning land of the dead. Higan is a special time for Buddhists in Japan as they believe that this is when the worlds between the living and dead are at their thinnest, thus at this time people pay respects to the deceased. In Japan people are very much in touch with the changing of the seasons. Aki is the word for autumn/fall in Japan and after the hot humid heat of the Japanese summer, people look forward to the cooling breezes and clear blue skies that the new season brings.

During the heat of the summer people loose their appetites so when autumn comes people refer to it as  Shokuyoku no Aki (Autumn the season of Appetites).

There is a word in Japanese “Fuubutsushi” this refers to the little things that signal a change in the seasons, the feelings, scents, images and sounds that might evoke memories or anticipation of the coming season. I think when we become more aware of this it helps us to centre ourselves and celebrate the passing of time.

Every year I always like to make Ohagi a traditional type of Japanese wagashi (sweet) made from half pounded ( hangoroshi ) mochi rice with an anko filling and rolled in various toppings like kinako and ground sesame. You can also do a reverse one where the rice is the filling and the anko is on the outside. Ohagi おはぎ is named after the Japanese clover bush in the autumn, in the spring the same sweets are called Botamochi named after the tree peony botan.

In Japan  it is traditional to take Ohagi along with flowers and incense to the graves of ancestors at this time as offerings. It is also said that Botamochi in the spring were made as a prayer for fertility and a successful growing season and Ohagi in the autumn was to give thanks to the harvest .
This year I decided to make my Ohagi with something a little different. Ohagi actually started as a sweet called “Kaimochi” which was first mentioned in the 13th century. This sweet is made by pounding both glutinous rice and satoimo “taro root” and covering with a layer of tsubuan bean paste. Satoimo are a starchy crop with a slightly nutty flavour and a creamy white sticky flesh. They look a bit like a cross between a kiwi and a coconut and are harvested in the autumn time around the same time as newly harvested rice. So I thought it would be perfect to make kaimochi for the autumn equinox.


To make x6 large or x12 smaller Kaimochi Ohagi you will need:

75g of glutinous mochi rice and 75g of Japanese rice (this equates to about half and half of a sushi rice cup used in your rice cooker).

You will also need x1 medium peeled taro root chopped into chunks, half a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Along with your tsubuan sweet bean paste. Ohagi in the autumn normally has tsubuan a chunky bean paste and the Botamochi in the spring uses the smoother koshian.

Method:
1: Wash and rinse your rice together until the water runs clear then tip this into a sieve and leave to air for ten minutes.

3: Put your rice in your rice cooker with 1 1/2 rice cooker cups of water ( this is about 200ml).  Add the sugar and leave for at least two hours to soak.

4: Peel one medium taro potato and chop into small chunks, wash the starch off the taro in water.

5: Add the taro to the top of the rice and cook on a white short  grain rice setting until it’s done if you have a rice cooker.

5. When the rice is cooked add a pinch of salt and while hot mash the rice and taro potato together I like to use a surikogi to do this that comes with a suribachi grinding bowl. Make sure to leave a little grain in the rice, the taro will make the mochi rice even more sticky.


6. Have a bowl of water to hand and divide the rice into six equal pieces. When the rice is easy to hold dampen your hands and roll each section into a ball then flatten in to an oval shape. Do this with all the rice. Alternatively divide the balls again to make twelve if you want smaller Ohagi .


7. Then cover each rice ball in your bean paste. I do this by rolling the bean paste into a ball then flattening it out and places the rice ball on the top then moulding the bean paste all the way around the rice ball.

If you wanted to make smaller Ohagi and divided each rice ball further into another six to make 12 rice balls, you can also make Ohagi with bean paste in the middle and rice on the outside. Then you can roll it in ground black sesame seeds or kinako (soy bean flour). You can view this further on previous posts just search Ohagi.


Red azuki beans are often used as an auspicious colour. The deep red was believed to console ancestral spirits and offer protection. The use of red and white in Japanese cuisine is also used for times of celebration like Sekihan glutinous rice cooked with azuki beans eaten for birthdays, graduations, weddings, and new year.

As the leaves change colours and the air turns crisp, the comforting palette of Japanese tableware becomes the perfect backdrop for the hearty and flavoursome dishes of the season. This is why I chose to serve my wagashi on this Hozan Kiln Botamochi Bizen Ware Half-Round Plate. Especially as the name of the plate is Botamochi .

Bizen ware is a traditional stoneware produced in the Ibe area of Okayama Prefecture. It is one of the oldest ceramics in Japan, and is made using the “Yakishime” technique, in which pieces are fired at high temperatures without glaze to make them durable and water-resistant.

Bizen ware is called “the art of clay and fire” for the exquisite colors and patterns produced by the kiln’s flames, and is characterized by its minimalist, “Wabi-sabi” design. You can read more about how this earthy rustic stoneware is made on the Musubi kiln website where this plate is from www.musubikiln.com

Why not try making Ohagi to welcome in the autumn season and give thanks to the harvest. I have never tried using taro root in Ohagi before and I found it made the rice so creamy and delicious I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.

You can normally find taro root in Asian grocery stores. Ohagi is best eaten on the day of making and leaving no longer than two days in an airtight container.

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

Vegan Dorayaki

Vegan Dorayaki

ビーガンどら焼き

JAPANESE RED BEAN PANCAKE 

Before I became vegan I did try a dorayaki in Kyoto but after becoming vegan over 12 years ago now I’ve been trying to replicate it. I’ve been trying for many years but getting the pancake to have that golden honey flavour and castella cake consistency was pretty tricky to make vegan using no eggs.

So what is a dorayaki and what’s the origin behind this iconic treat loved by children and adults alike ? Dora (どら) means “gong” and yaki (焼き) means fry.

Dorayaki is a Japanese cake usually made with two slightly raised round pancake like castella patties with azuki bean paste filling in the middle. Other fillings such as fresh cream, custard cream or chocolate cream can be used as an alternative.

The original dorayaki consisted of only one layer with the edges folded over so they were square and the bean paste could be seen on one side.

Legend has it that the first dorayaki were made when Mushashibo Benkei (a Japanese warrior monk) became injured, and received treatment at a farmers house. Benkei forgot his gong (dora) upon leaving the farmer’s home where he was hiding, and the farmer subsequently used the gong to fry pancakes. Others stories say that Benkei after receiving treatment by the farmer showed his gratitude by making dorayaki on his gong.

It is said that the current method of using two pieces of castella to sandwich the bean paste was the idea of the Japanese cake shop in Ueno  Tokyo called ‘Usagi-ya’ which was founded in 1914, and this method became popular around Japan.

Like I mentioned I have not before managed to recreate the likeness of a dorayaki because of the use of eggs and honey.

However when I saw a vegan scrambled egg alternative and a liquid egg alternative new on the market I set about experimenting.

You may not have where you are what I finally used but maybe you could find something similar.

I settled for using the vegan egg alternative by OGGS. Even though it says for scrambled eggs it makes the pancake nice and fluffy and more like a cake.

You can also use the other vegan liquid egg on the market called Crackd, I found both worked but the OGGS made fluffier pancakes.

I also used vegan honea by plant based artisan.

If you use the vegan egg alternative you will have enough left to make my pan pudding recipe inspired by “The Makanai”.

For the sweet red bean paste known as anko there are two types. Tsubuan (chunky paste) and Koshian (fine paste). You can use which ever you like.

Recipe for Vegan Dorayaki

All you need to make x4 dorayaki is:

150ml of OGGS scrambled egg alternative

100ml of water

2 tablespoons of vegan honey (or alternative like maple syrup or agave)

Add the above ingredients to a bowl and give it all a good whisk.

Add to a separate bowl:

160gm of sifted plain flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Give it a mix.

You will also need some neutral oil (I like to use Tiana coconut butter), kitchen towel, a nonstick frying pan and something to pour your batter into the pan with (I used a 1/3 measuring cup). You will also need some anko for your filling.

Method:

Add the vegan egg mixture to the flour and give it all a good mix. Your batter should be thick but runny enough to fall off a spoon with ease for a nice batter consistency.

Heat up your frying pan and add a little oil then wipe it off with kitchen towel ( you do not want an oily pan)

Then give your mixture another whisk then scoop up your batter with the measuring cup and pour the batter a few inches up from the pan. I found each time I used just under 1/3 of a cup of batter for each dorayaki. Pour until you get a nice round shape with the batter. Leave a few minutes until little bubbles start to appear then flip over the pancake and cook for a further  minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Repeat the process again adding a little oil and wiping it off before you pour each batter.

Continue until all your batter has been used.

Then add bean paste to one pancake adding more filling to the middle so you get the domed shape. Then place another on top.

Press round the edges to seal. I find they taste better left until they are completely cold. You can wrap them when they are cool in clingfilm and eat them the next day or they are good to freeze and then defrost.

Hope you can try making them and enjoy with a Japanese tea. Or why not take them for a treat during hanami season.

Do you know the Japanese anime and manga character Doraemon a character from the 1970s, created by Fujiko F. Fujio ? A robotic cat that travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a preteen boy named Nobita.

Dorayaki are also known as the favourite food of the cat robot. Doraemon is addicted to dorayaki and falls for any trap involving them. You may of even grown up watching it on tv and dorayaki may give you a feeling of nostalgia eating them.

I also recommend a 2015 film “Sweet Bean” by director Naomi Kawase’s. This exquisite film is based on a novel by Durian Sukegawa.

The film is about Sentari who runs a shop where he makes and sells dorayaki pancakes filled with sweet bean paste. He advertises for an assistant, Tokue, a 76-year-old woman responds. After tasting the sweet bean paste that Tokue makes, Sentari is astonished. A lovely heartwarming film.

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 2023 being Wednesday the 1st 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.

 

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, Winter Food

Shiroan 白あん Zenzai

Kagami Biraki  鏡開き

Breaking the new year mochi rice cake 鏡餅

Celebrated on January the 11th as odd numbers are considered auspicious in Japan. There maybe slight differences according to region’s in japan.

Kagami mochi is placed in the home as an offering to the deity of the New Year to bring good luck. It is said the mochi contains Toshigami 年神 (Great-Year God”) is a Kami of the Shinto religion in Japan, a spirit that visits during this time to bring good blessings. Eating the mochi signifies a prayer for health and good fortune for the year ahead. This is a store bought ornament that contains the Mochi inside.

Traditionally the Kirimochi  which is rectangular can be grilled and eaten with a red bean soup called zenzai ぜんざい 善哉 or Oshiruko お汁粉 which is more of a watery version.

Normally I make zenzai with sweet red beans however you can enjoy making zenzai with shiroan.
Shiroan is white bean paste, often used in Japanese wagashi. I made this white bean paste from  Lima ( butter beans ) and because I used non refined sugar which had more of a golden colour the bean paste is not as pale as the Japanese variety. There are two different types of red bean paste smooth koshian and chunky tsubuan but with white bean bean paste this is only made smooth.
This Shiroan is super simple to make and can be used for wagashi filling as well as a delicious zenzai with either Mochi or Shiratama Dango.

I used two cartons of organic already cooked  butter beans in water. Each carton was 380g  yielding 230g of beans when drained.
Tip your drained beans into a saucepan then add 250g of unrefined natural caster sugar and add enough water to cover the beans. Simmer with the lid on until the water has almost gone drain the rest of the water. Then transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Tip this out into a bowl and put in the fridge over night to set.
To make Shiroan zenzai add one heaped tablespoon of white bean paste to a pan with a cup of water and simmer until the bean paste has dissolved. If you like your soup a little thicker you can add some kuzu root powered. Just crush one teaspoon in a bowl with a little cold water and mix into your hot soup to thicken if you wish.
Serve piping hot with toasted Mochi .

Blog, Spring Food

Micro Season Part 1 立春 Risshun (Beginning of spring)

I actually started writing about micro seasons half way through the 24 seasonal divisions back at the beginning of autumn Risshu. Now we are entering Risshun the beginning of Spring. Did you celebrate Setsubun yesterday? I talked about this in my last micro season post.
This micro season is broken down into three subdivisions.

February 4–8 東風解凍 Harukaze kōri o toku East wind melts the ice
February 9–13 黄鶯睍睆 Kōō kenkan su Bush warblers start singing in the mountains
February 14–18 魚上氷 Uo kōri o izuru Fish emerge from the ice

This is an important time for farmers in Japan especially tea farmers, because it is the first of the 24 divisions in the solar calendar it is considered the start of life and from this day 88 days are counted until the first tea picking, so Risshun is used as a reference point.
With the term Risshun comes Haru Matsuri or spring festival, and it’s definitely a positive sign. Bulbs and flowers are starting to push through the frosty earth and the birds are getting busy looking for potential nest sites.
You can feel a glimpse of spring now.
In Japan you might start to see plum blossoms blooming or hear the call of the male (uguisu) bush warbler (Japanese nightingale).

The bush warbler or Uguisu is a little green bird and at this time wagashi shops start to sell Uguisu Mochi . A chubby cake similar to the shape of the bird. It is a Mochi rice cake filled with red bean paste and dusted in green kinako made from the freshest soy beans.
I decided to make this as I had some Uguisu kinako which is the name given to the green soy bean flour.


I made it with Shiratama rice flour and inside was home made bean paste.


I feel like a little bit of Japanese springtime has arrived in my home.

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.

 

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Chestnut Autumn Wagashi

This is a simple wagashi for autumn made of only three ingredients,chestnuts,sugar and koshian a smooth sweet bean paste.

First either roast and shell your chestnuts or like I did you can buy them already done in packets like this.

You will need around 15 whole chestnuts,add these to a bowl and start to mash them if you have a suribachi ( mortar and pestle ) use that. I used the flat end of a rolling pin to mash my chestnuts. Add to this two tablespoons of organic unrefined cane sugar and cream the sugar into the chestnut mash. Then divide your mash into three and put in separate plastic wrap roll into a ball and flatten out. Undo your wrap and in the middle of each place a ball of your bean paste. Gather up the sides of your flattened chestnut and make sure you cover the bean paste roll up in plastic wrap again to shape. I dipped mine in some sesame seeds for extra flavour and to make them look pretty but you don’t have to do this.

Lovely served with green tea as they are very sweet.

Blog, Spring Food

Kashiwa Mochi

Happy Children’s day Japan?
To day May 5th in Japan is known as ( Kodomo no hi ) ( こどもの日)
It is part of the string of national holidays over the Golden Week period .
This day is in fact for the boys as girls day Hina Matsuri was in March . However a lot of people celebrate this day now as children’s day.
It is traditional to eat these mochi wagashi called Kashiwa mochi to day . They symbolise a child’s growth as an oak leaf is used to wrap the mochi ( not edible ). The reason an oak leaf is used is because oak trees do not shed their leaves until the new ones start to grow so thus are seen as a symbol of harmonious flow from one generation to the next. They are also a symbol of growth,strength and prosperity. These mochi are made from pounded sweet joshinko rice flour and filled with bean paste . Other mochi can be filled with white sweet bean and miso paste known as misoan. How would you know if a mochi is filled with bean paste or miso paste ? Well look at the leaves the mochi is wrapped in. If the veins are on the outside there is bean paste inside.

I was lucky enough to be sent some of the preserved oak leaves from japan so I set out to make Kashiwa Mochi . I’m really hoping next year I am in japan eating an authentic Japanese one and visiting the wisteria park and seeing the azalea.

To make 5 Kashiwa Mochi

( they do not keep well so only make what you plan to eat on the day or at the very latest the next day)

x5 preserved oak leaves ( not edible)

125g of Koshi-an ( smooth bean paste)

100g of Joshinko flour

x1 tablespoon of organic granulated sugar

130 mil of water

you will need a sharp knife,some paper towel, a microwaveable bowl,something to pound the Mochi like a rolling pin or pestle and plastic wrap and a spoon ( also have to hand a bowl of water and a damp cloth.

First rinse and pat dry with some paper towel your oak leaves and set aside.

Then make five balls of sweet bean paste and set aside

Add joshinko flour and sugar to a bowl and mix then add your water and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 4 mins.

When done remove from the microwave and use a wet spoon to loosen the edges. Start to pound your Mochi with your pestle or rolling pin.

When it is smooth and elastic take out of the bowl and place on a damp surface, dampen your hands and knead the Mochi.

When nice and stretchy form into a log shape and cut into five pieces with a damp sharp knife. Cover with a damp cloth,while you make each mochi. Keep your hands and surfaces damp to avoid sticking.

Flatten each piece out into an egg shape then place a ball of sweet bean paste in the centre and fold over your Mochi to cover it and then pinch the ends together. Wrap with an oak leaf and you are done.

They are best eaten straight away they are so chewy and soft. If you need to store them wrap them in plastic wrap and put in an airtight container. I did have one the next day and although still nice they were no where near as nice as eating straight away.

I hope what ever you do you all have a wonderful Golden week in Japan and happy children’s day !

 

 

Blog

Ogura Toast

Ogura Toast
Ogura Toast
Ogura Toast
Ogura Toast
Ogura Toast

Good morning
Ogura toast with home made anko,coconut yogurt ( instead of the normal cream) and strawberry flowers . A latte and some grapefruit and orange segments on the side .
Nagoya specialty dish with warm toasted bread, topped with red bean paste is my Japanese-theme breakfast to day.
Have a wonderful day everyone.
Ogura Toast 小倉トースト
自家製のあんこ、イチゴ、ココナッツヨーグルト