Tag

Dango

Autumn Food, Blog

Halloween Tofu Dessert


This is how you can make a delicious pumpkin spiced dessert using Japanese authentically made soft Shizenno Megumi tofu by Dragonfly Foods, www.dragonflyfoods.com

If you haven’t already read the story behind this tofu why not check out my blog post Introducing Shizenno Megumi Tofu.

Have you ever used tofu to make desserts? The soft variety of the Shizenno Megumi tofu is perfect for whipping up desserts mousses and smoothies in no time and gives them a wonderful creamy texture.

I decided to use this tofu to make a seasonal Halloween themed pumpkin spice  Kabocha mousse with some Shiratama tofu dango ghosties.

Makes x2 large desserts or x4 small

For the Kabocha pumpkin spice mousse you will need:

x1  block of soft Shizenno Megumi Tofu

tofu drained and dried with kitchen towel then cut in half. Use one half for the dessert.

x1 half of a  Kabocha squash with seeds scooped out.

x1 tablespoon of maple syrup

x1 tablespoon of melted coconut butter

(I always use the odourless coconut butter by Tiana).

x1-2 teaspoons of Pumpkin spice or your own spice blend try nutmeg cinnamon ginger clove allspice etc

For the ghosties:

Shiratamsko

1/4 of the tofu

Also black sesame paste, soy yogurt and pomegranate seeds to decorate.

( Shiratamako 白玉粉 ) is glutinous rice flour made from mochigome, Japanese short-grain glutinous rice. The Shiratamako comes in coarse granules and I find it’s better to grind this into a finer powder using a motor and pestle or Japanese suribachi. It is the main ingredient in many Japanese wagashi (Japanese confectionery).

Method:

Steam the Kabocha and leave to cool

Drain the tofu and wrap in kitchen towel, cut in half then half the other half into 1/4

Scoop the flesh out the Kabocha leaving the flesh and add this to a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 the tofu and maple syrup coconut butter and spices. Blend until creamy and smooth and tip out into your chosen bowls and pop them into the fridge while you make your ghosties.

Add about 2-3 tablespoons of ground Shiratamako to a bowl and add a 1/4 piece of tofu. Cream the tofu and shiratamako together it needs to be the consistency of an ear lobe. Add more shiratamako and tofu if needed to get the desired dough.

Knead the dough and then form into a log shape

Cut into pieces and form each piece into a ball and then pinch to make a tail.

Boil a pan of water and drop the ghosties into the boiling water wait until they float then leave a further 1-2 mins. Scoop them out and drop them into ice water to cool.

Take the tofu pumpkin spice Kabocha mousse from the fridge and drop a few ghosties ontop.

Decorate with black sesame paste soy yogurt and pomegranate seeds if you wish.

Happy Halloween 👻 Continue reading…

Blog, Spring Food

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Season 1 Episode 1 Nabekko Dango & Tomato Curry

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

Season 1 episode 1

“Change”

Two 16-year-old inseparable friends Kiyo and Sumire leave their town in their home city of Aomori after seeing maiko, (apprentice geishas or geiko, as it is called in Kyoto) in the street on a school trip.

Leaving behind Kiyo’s supportive grandmother and their baseball player buddy Kenta, the two girls head to Kyoto on a bus warm baked sweet potatoes in hand to chase their dreams of training as maiko.

We join them as they adjust to life in the maiko house. A communal all female Saku House living quarters where this story takes place. They call each other mothers and sisters despite having no blood relations to each other.

Sumire is a natural and embraces life as a trainee, Kiyo however is clumsy and finds she is not suited to life as a trainee maiko.

Ms Sachiko, who is the house makanai when they first arrive sees Kiyo’s enthusiasm and interest in food and takes her under her wing. Makanai means both the cook and the meal served in the boarding house or other place of work.

Ms Sachiko is forced to leave to rest a back injury, Kiyo then finds her passion as she steps in to be the in house’s Makanai. The two girls decide to pursue different passions while living under the same roof. Sumire in the pursuit of being a “one-in-a-million” maiko and Kiyo starts to prepare the meals for all the women who reside there. She seams effortlessly happy and engaged with her work enjoying grocery shopping and deciding what meals to cook that will appeal to everyone from different regions of japan with their own distinct food cultures and various levels of seasoning. What I like the most is the sense of nostalgia in the series with humble, home cooked freshly prepared nourishing food. Kiyo even says “nice to meet you” to her ingredients as she begins each day.

It also relates to something I’ve spoken about in my blog post “Natsukashii & Ofukuro no aji” A taste of home.

Ofukuro no aji which translates “Mothers Taste Meal “. Linked to family relationships these are Japanese home cooked meals that your mother used to make. Eating them later in life can bring back memories and comforts from home. Natsukashii (an adjective) derived from the Japanese verb Natsuku which means to become familiar with. The word is used to express emotion, fondness and gratitude for the past in a kind of nostalgic way.
I think when we are talking about food we can relate to Natsukashii, like sounds and smell can bring back memories so can taste.

You may know I have adapted quite a few recipes from the “Midnight Diner” series and thought this a wonderful opportunity to make not only these humble Japanese home style cooked meals but to make them vegan. (Some are already vegan)

At the beginning of the first episode it starts on snowy Aomori and Kiyos grandmother is making nabekko dumplings in red bean soup a local traditional dish in the southern area of Aomori Prefecture. So what makes this dish different to zenzai ? Well it’s mainly down to the dango the dango balls are pressed in the middle to look like a nabe (pot). They are also made from kneaded non glutinous rice flour.

(Joshinko (上新粉). It is made from milled short grain rice which has been washed, dried, and ground down into flour, whereas mochiko and shiratamako are both made from glutinous rice.

Kiyos grandmother makes the dish as a good luck meal before Kiyo and Sumire leave on their journey, however this meal is often made as an offering to Agricultural Gods during celebrations, such as “Tenorie,” a festival praying for a good harvest after the completion of the rice-planting.  It’s a comforting sweet dish perfect on a cold day.

Let’s make nabekko dumplings in red bean soup

You will need :

For red bean soup

200g of azuki

1/4 teaspoon of salt

200g of granulated sugar

200ml of water for cooking

For nabekko dango dumplings:

100g of Joshinko non glutinous rice flour

Around 100ml of just boiled hot water

Method:

  1. Wash the azuki beans and place them in a pot with just enough water to cover, and bring it to a boil. When the water turns red, drain and discard the water. Replace water and repeat this process a second time.
  2. Place the parboiled beans and the measured 200ml of water over heat. When the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45-60 minutes until beans become tender.

Make your nabekko dango

Add Joshinko flour to a bowl and gradually start to add the hot water until everything comes together into a dough a little firmer than and earlobe. Form into a log shape and cut into sections to roll into balls.

When you have rolled them into balls push your thumb in the middle to make your nabe shape.

Continue simmering your azuki beans adding more water if needed when they are tender mix in the salt and sugar and simmer further for five minutes. Then drop in your dango. Let the dango cook adding more water if needed to make a nice soup consistency. The dango May take at least 15 minutes to cook though properly.

Serve in your favourite bowl.

Later, on the bus to Kyoto, Kiyo shares with Sumire the baked sweet potato their close friend Kenta gave them as a snack for the journey, the girls fall into grateful giggles. You can find the recipe for these on my recipe pages (Yaki Imo).

Finally from episode one I decided to make the tomato curry that was kiyos grandmothers recipe. She makes the curry while visiting Ms Sachiko the former Makanai. You see her using a method of removing the skin from tomatoes that I’ve shown before in my poached tomato recipe. Scoring a cross in the skin and dropping the tomatoes into boiling water boil for a few minutes until the skin starts to come away . Drop the tomatoes into ice cold water you will find then the skin is easily removed.


Adding tomato to the curry adds a sweetness to the curry instead of adding something like honey or apple which is common in Japanese style curry.

As the curry normally has some kind of meat as an ingredient you could use something like soy protein as a meat substitute, you could also use seitan or in my case this time I used Maitake mushrooms.

This is how I made Vegan tomato curry inspired by The Makanai.

x2 tomatoes

First skin your tomatoes as explained above. Then cut into quarters.

Then you will need:

x1-2 carrots chopped in to wedges

x1 medium white onion sliced finely

x2 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks

Some maitake mushrooms . ( if using soy protein reconstitute this in water and squeeze out liquid before adding to the curry. You can also use seitan.

One of the most important aspects of making Japanese curry is to sauté the onions until they are caramelized, which can take up to 20 minutes. Most of the curries from Asian countries are prepared by sautéing the onion until translucent only. The onions should be cut into thin slices so that they can caramelise quickly.

When you onions are nice and browned add potatoes meat substitute and carrots then add water to cover and simmer for around 15 minutes.

While they are cooking make your curry roux.

Curry Roux

You can use curry roux cubes but I wanted to make this how I thought was more in keeping with how Kiyo might of made. This recipe uses S&B Japanese curry spice powder.

A traditional blend of natural herbs and spices for Japanese curry. This curry powder is fantastic for making Japanese style curry from scratch. Ingredients Turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, orange peel, pepper, chill pepper, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, star anise, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, nutmeg, sage, cardamon.

Heat 60g of butter over low heat in a pan.

Add the equal amount of sifted flour and stir constantly. Let the butter combine with the flour, and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes until it turns to medium brown. Keep stirring so that the roux will not stick to the pan. Keep the heat low so that the butter does not burn.

Add two heaped teaspoons or one tablespoon of the S&B Japanese curry spice powder and mix well until it forms a thick paste.

Add the paste to your vegetables and stir to thicken adding  extra water if needed to get your desired thickness of sauce.

Finally add your tomatoes. I like to add those last so they don’t turn into mush, it’s nice to keep some of the form of the tomatoes.

Cook until the tomatoes are soft and then serve with Japanese rice and vegetables if you like. Serving like this will feed at least x4 people.

More recipes to come in my next The Makanai blog.

If you haven’t already watched it yet The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House is available for streaming on Netflix. 

Blog, Summer Food

Wagashi no hi

Wagashi no hi (the Day of Japanese Confectionery)

(和菓子の日)

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

Autumn Food, Blog

Kibi Dango


Do you know the Japanese confectionery

Kibi dango (黍団子, きびだんご, “millet dumpling”) ?

Well if you have ever visited Asakusa in Tokyo and walked through the great Kaminarion Gate  and up Nakamise Dori leading up to the famous Sensoji Temple, its likely you have visited or walked past the Kibi dango stall.



Kibi Dango are small Japanese dumpling made from the meal or flour of the kibi (millet) grain. Originating from Kibi Province the former name of Okayama Prefecture.

The treat was used by folktale-hero Momotarō (the Peach Boy) to recruit his army to defeat demons  in the commonly known version of the tale. In another story they were first offered at Kibitsu Shrine in honour of the ogre slaying deity Kibitsuhiko some believe to be the true identity of the character Momotaro.

What you will notice is they are smaller than the dango you maybe used to . Four  come on a stick and you buy them in groups of five covered in golden nutty aromatic kinako soybean flour.

They are so easy to make.

Here’s how I make them.

As I said before they are made with millet flour, however I add Shiratama flour to mine otherwise I find them a little gritty in texture.
This is enough for one Kibi Dango stall serving.

1/3 cup of millet flour

1 teaspoon of potato starch

1- 1 and 1/2  tablespoons of Shiratama flour depending

Topping:

kinako soybean flour mixed with coconut palm sugar or brown sugar and a pinch of salt

Add the millet flour and potato starch to a bowl and mix then add four tablespoons of boiling water and mix then gradually add your Shiratama flour add one tablespoon and keep mixing into a dough if it’s too wet add a little more. Work into two long sausage shapes and cut 20 equal size pieces then roll into balls. Add four balls to x5 bamboo Dango skewers.

Place them in a sieve.


Boil a big pan of boiling water. Do not cook them until you are ready to eat them as they need to be served warm.
Lower the sieve into the boiling water and when the skewers float they are ready.


Lift the sieve let them drain a few seconds and then add them to your bowl with kinako sugar.


Twist them in the kinako and eat straight away.
A delicious street food  snack that is a taste of Japan. Why not have them with a warm amazake on a chilly day like they serve in Autumn.

Just on another note you can get a really good view of Nakamise Dori by visiting the asakusa culture tourist information centre, opposite and going to their roof top viewing deck .

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

Mister Donut Pon de Ring

Mister Donut is a large donut chain with stores all over Asia. Originating actually in the USA they first came to Japan in 1971 opening a store in Osaka. Now you see them every where. Mister Donut is now known in the USA as Dunkin-Donuts.
I first came across Mister Donut in Japan when I was catching the Safege suspended monorail at Ofuna to Enoshima. I had heard that they did one vegan donut called Fuka Fuka Yaki and is intended for customers with allergies. On entering the counter is filled with all kinds of flavours but the vegan one you have to ask for as it’s stored in the freezer you say “Atatamete kudasai” at the counter (can you warm it please).

I have tried making these donuts at home  a few times but this is by far the easiest way (it may not be the traditional method but it’s the simplest and with just a few ingredients!)
It’s Easter weekend and I thought I would make the Mister Donut signature pon de ring  which consists of 8 small donut balls in a ring shape.

These are just dipped in vegan chocolate to look like the traditional pon de ring but you could dip them in pink icing maybe for Sakura season.

You will need:

96g of Dango flour (glutinous rice flour)

96g of pancake mix

200g of silken tofu

(vegan chocolate or icing of choice)

 

Method:

Combine all your ingredients to make a dough. Make a ball and flatten it out and cut into 8 pieces like this.

Then take each piece and do the same again

Roll each triangle into balls and put them side by side in a ring shape slightly touching on pieces of square cut parchment paper.

When you have made all 8, add some neutral oil to a pan enough to half submerge your donuts. I used Tiana coconut butter that has no smell or you could use something like vegetable oil. Heat up the oil and a few at a time lower the parchment in to the oil using a spatula.

Fry until golden then remove the parchment and flip them over to cook on the other side.

Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack, while you cook the rest.
If your dipping them in chocolate break up the chocolate into a bowl and melt by placing the bowl just inside a pan of simmering water to melt. Then take each pon de ring and half dip in chocolate and replace back on to the wire rack, you can sprinkle with a little coconut if you like.


I placed mine in the freezer for five minutes just to set the chocolate.

Like all fresh donuts they are best eaten on the day you make them.



There are some delicious vegan donuts available in Japan now what’s your favourite? I think one of mine has to be Good Town Doughnuts In Tokyo, not all their donuts are vegan but they have a few options.

This place has now closed down. However I have just heard they have now moved inside next door to the little bakery Tokyo as of June 2021.

Also there is The Little Bakery Tokyo next door which do the most delicious vegan cinnamon rolls.

I just can’t wait until we can travel again until then I hope you try making these pon de ring for a little nostalgia of Japan. Happy Easter!

 

 

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

Valentines Day Chocolate Tofu Dango inspired by Yanaka

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

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


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

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

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

Here is how I made them.

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


Blend together to form a dough

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

Then drop them into boiling water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Valentine’s  Day.

Blog

Moon viewing and celebrating autumn

As the shades of autumn are becoming even more apparent now with fields turning as golden as the evening light. It is an important time in Japan for the rice harvest. The first of October is known as world sake day “Nihonshu no Hi” and is the New Year’s Day of  Sake. It marks the first day of the sake making season as it is a time when the rice is gathered from the fields to start the production into sake.
The morning sky is laced with the fish scale cirrocumulus clouds and I can understand why the Japanese call them Uroko gumo (uroko meaning scale)

There is a bountiful harvest of foods the most popular in Japan at this time being sweet potato, chestnut, mushrooms, pumpkin and edamame. Mixing some of these with rice is one way to enjoy both at the same time, also using seasonings like soy sauce and mirin.

As the evenings darken we draw our attention to the moon. One such event in Japan is known as Tsukimi or Jugoya  which is a moon viewing festival that dates back over a thousand years.

This year it falls on 29th of September. It is custom to drink sake at tsukimi and eat the foods of the season. Another food that is popular to eat is Dango. Round rice dumplings in the shape of the full moon. Piled into a pyramid shape they are made as offerings at this time.

People may decorate their houses with susuki ススキ (pampas grass) . Pampas grass symbolises the coming of autumn and was once used to thatch roofs and feed animals.

Near the well known Heian shrine in Kyoto tucked away is the Shinto shrine Okazaki, dedicated to childbirth and conceiving, the symbol of the shrine is a rabbit and you will find many statues and images of rabbits there.

Another symbol of Tuskimi is the rabbit, this is because unlike some people who see a face in the moon the Japanese see an image of a rabbit in the moon pounding Mochi with a huge mallet.

You can find more information on previous posts I have made  by searching Otsukimi or microseason posts 15 or why not take a look at my autumn recipe section there you will find takikomi gohan a mixed rice dish, or lots of ways to enjoy Kabocha.

With many festivities cancelled this year this is one that you can definitely enjoy either on your own or with family.
Happy moon viewing.

Summer Food

Minazuki Wagashi ( the Japanese sweet to eat in June)

I have talked a little about minazuki in a previous post but I thought you might like to try making this Japanese wagashi for yourself. It’s really easy to make with a few ingredients. This wagashi is traditionally eaten on June 30th to ward off evil, ill health and bad luck for the second part of the year. The colour of minazuki is said to resemble ice to cool you from the hot summer heat.
This makes x4 triangle pieces.

You will need a square container around 4×4 inches and something to steam the wagashi in (I used a bamboo steamer)
You will also need:

15g of kuzu root ( if it is not in a powder and more in chunks crush into a powder)

15g of  glutinous rice flour ( the kind for making dango )

30g of sifted plain white flour

30g of unrefined caster sugar

100ml of water

x1 can of sweet red beans

Combine the kuzu powder and dango flour then add a little of the water to make a paste, then add the rest and mix together. Then add in your flour and sugar and mix to combine.
Fill your container with water and tip it out ( this will just stop your wagashi from sticking ) then fill your container with your mixture, keeping a few tablespoons for later.

Place your container in a steamer and steam over simmering water for about 20 minutes.

After this time take out your container from the steamer and add around 3/4 of the can of your sweet red beans to the top, spreading them out. Add the few spoonfuls of remains mixture you saved over the beans and pop back in the steamer for a further 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in the fridge. I then cut the wagashi while it was still in the container into x4 triangles and eased out the first piece, once you have one out the others are easily removed. I wouldn’t recommend tipping it upside down as you may spoil the look of your minazuki.
There you have it. They are nice enjoyed with a matcha tea you could even dust the top with matcha or kinako if you like.

Blog, Spring Food

Micro Season Part 2 雨水 Usui Rainwater

雨水 Usui ( Rainwater )

The micro seasons for this part are as follows:

February 19–23 土脉潤起 Tsuchi no shō uruoi okoru. Rain moistens the soil.

February 24–28 霞始靆 Kasumi hajimete tanabiku. Mist starts to linger.

March 1–5 草木萌動 Sōmoku mebae izuru. Grass sprouts, trees bud.

At the start of spring in Japan before the cherry blossoms bloom another tree has its moment. For people in Japan this is just as imported. When the stunning  plum blossoms arrive it begins the arrival of spring by symbolising renewal and hope. One of the best places to view over 2000 ume trees is the Kitano Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto. They have a plum blossom festival which is held on February 25th the grounds are full with plum blossom and a special outdoor tea ceremony called Baikasai is held. Maiko serve hot matcha tea with wagashi ( Japanese sweets ) they also have a flea market at the same time.
This micro season couldn’t be passed by without talking about Hina matsuri on the 3rd of March. This is also known as dolls day or girls day. On this day parents celebrate their daughters happiness and good health. Traditionally when a girl is born parents or grand parents will buy a special set of Hina dolls, sometimes they are passed down from generations. These dolls are displayed in the house from the end of February until March 3rd. The dolls are a representation of the emperor and empress .

These are my friends Hina dolls that she has displayed in her house. Instagram (@dokodemotokyo)

Sometime girls will invite friends for a party and have traditional foods.
There are lots of foods associated with this time.
Temari sushi, decorated sushi balls take their name from the Temari balls children played with. Temari means hand balls and they are beautiful embroidered balls that are now normally used for decoration. These bit sized sushi balls are easy to make just search Temari sushi for instructions.

Sakura Mochi a traditional spring wagashi for Hinamatsuri and the coming Sakura seasons. Sakura Mochi is a Mochi rice cake with a sweet red bean paste filling and then wrapped in a salted pickled Sakura leaf. It’s a nice combination of sweet and salty. Just search Sakura Mochi for the recipe.


There are three colours associated with Hinamatsuri white for purification, green for health and pink for luck. Often you will see dango in these three colours which are popular at this time. These are also called hanami dango or Sanshoku dango. Just search dango for recipes.

Cherry blossom cookies are also a nice one to make. Recipe on this website.


Others are strawberry daifuku,cherry blossom rice balls,inari sushi and chirashi sushi (scattered sushi

This year I will be making a chirashi sushi which resembles a cake in the three spring colours known as Chakin sushi.
Seasoned sushi rice which you can either layer using the colours in-between or colour the rice. I like to use natural colours so I used beetroot juice for pink mixed into cooked sushi rice and matcha tea.  You can then add the toppings to the top of the rice cake.
I think this would be a lovely one for a party or gathering.


You could even make mini ones cup cake style or make three layer onigiri.


I also decided to make onigiri in the shape of Hina dolls.

If you would like to see things I have made in previous years just search Hina matsuri, I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own celebration.

As I have no children it has also been suggested to me that girls day is a nice day to spend with girl friends or sisters. Maybe if you have no girl children you could plan a day out or go for a meal or celebrate women in general.

 

 

 

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Japanese Micro Season Part 15 Hakuro

In the next part of Japanese micro seasons we talk about the next set of micro seasons Hakuro meaning white dew breaks down into three parts 8-12 of September Kusa no tsuyu shiroshi ( dew glistens white on grass. 13-17 of September Sekireinaku ( wagtails sing  ) and 18-22 September Tsubame saru ( swallows leave ).

The last one for me is very significant, I always feel the arrival of the swallows marks the start of summer and the swallows leaving definitely means autumn has arrived.

Also during this micro season is the moon viewing festival in Japan called Tsukimi or Otsukimi, it can also be known by the name Jugoya.

It is a time when the Japanese honour the autumn moon and give gratitude for a good harvest. Traditionally offerings are made of seasonal produce like chestnuts, persimmon and kabocha. Rice dumplings ( dango balls ) are made representing the full moon. Eating these are considered auspicious and are said to bring health and happiness . Display 12 one for each month. Pampas grass ( Susuki ) is also displayed at this time. Another symbol of Tsukimi is the rabbit. Japanese people say they see the shape of a rabbit pounding Mochi with a mallet in the moon, unlike others that may see a face in the moon often referred to as the man in the moon.

There is a little pottery store in Kyoto down Pontocho Alley in Kyoto. I’m not sure of the name of the store but the store sells nothing but rabbit items . Maybe it is called simply Usagi ( meaning rabbit in Japanese.) I picked up this rabbit dish last time I was there.

The word Tsukimi is also referred to for dishes that have a raw egg yolk in them like Tsukimi soba. This one is my vegan version using grated daikon and kabocha.

Many places in Japan 2019 will be holding special moon viewing events this year. Himeji castle Sept 13th, Tokyo Sky Tree will be holding events through Sept and Oct. Sankein garden in Yokohama will be holding events between the 12th and 16th of Sept and Ise shrine will be holding an event on the 13th sept.

Will you be attending any moon viewing events or maybe you could quietly do something at home. Weather your in Japan or not why not pay homage to the harvest full moon and welcome autumn with the changing seasons.

Lovely Seasonal Continue reading…

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.

 

 

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Otsukimi ( moon viewing festival )

Tsukimi or otsukimi お月見 is the Japanese autumn moon viewing festival . The moons round shape is the symbol for fertility and at this time people pray for a good harvest. The date varies each year 2018  will be on September 24th. Japanese people display pampas grass known as susuki in their homes as a symbol of good luck and  make Tsukimi dango, rice-flour dumplings, because it looks similar to a full moon. After offering them to the moon, Japanese people eat the Tsukimi dango in order to obtain good health and happiness. Other foods which are associated with Tsukimi include chestnuts, known as “kuri” in Japanese, and taro, known as “sato imo”, in Japanese, as well as kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) and persimmons ( kaki ).

You will often see the rabbit depicted at this time as Japanese people see a rabbit in the moon pounding Mochi rice not a man in the moon. 

Why not celebrate the autumn moon festival and make some dango search mitarashi dango.