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Kuri

Autumn Food, Blog

Kabocha yokan 羊羹


Yokan羊羹 is a Japanese wagashi ( sweet ) and are typically eaten with tea. Yokan is a type of jelly confectionery normally made with red bean paste. The jelly is made with agar not gelatine so is a perfect tea time treat for the vegan diet. You may sometimes see yokan with seasonal fillings like persimmon, sweet potato or chestnuts.

This is a different kind of yokan instead of using bean paste I used Kabocha. Sometimes this is called Kabocha kan. It’s a delicious treat for an autumn tea time. Kabocha is a sweet pumpkin and works so well with desserts as well as savoury dishes.

All you need is to cut a Kabocha in half and scoop out the seeds. Steam the Kabocha until the skin is falling away from the flesh. Let the Kabocha cool and weigh the flesh you will need 300g

Cream the Kabocha with two tablespoons of maple syrup.
Add a cup of cold water to a pan and sprinkle in two teaspoons of agar agar powder. Give it a mix and bring the water to a steady simmer until the agar agar powder has dissolved. Take the water off the heat and mix in the Kabocha. The Kabocha will dissolve into the water as you keep stirring.
You can then pour the mixture into a container or if you have one you can use a Nagashikan. This is a stainless steel container with a removable inner tray. It’s one of my favourite kitchen gadgets.

To make the yokan even more seasonal I dropped in some whole roast  chestnuts. You could also use the candied kind that are preserved in syrup called Kuri no kanroni.

Let your container cool a little then put it in the fridge to set. If using a Nagashikan this will slice it for you into six individual pieces, however if your not ease the yokan out of your container by going round the edge with a knife.
Slice to reveal the hidden chestnut inside, and serve with some sweet bean paste and your favourite tea.


You can also make this into a dessert by pouring the mixture into individual bowl instead of a container.

Autumn Food, Blog

Live by the (Shun) 旬 The Philosophy of seasonal eating part 4 Autumn

When the cicadas can be heard no more, the leaves start to turn and the temperatures cool, we know Aki Kinu ( Autumn has arrived in Japan ! ) This is known as Kigo a word or phrase that is used in Japanese poetry to associate with Japanese seasons.

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).

Autumn is the season of the rice harvest with  world sake day being held on October 1st at the start of sake production. 

There is an abundance of delicious produce to have at this time from, matsutake mushrooms, persimmons (kaki), chestnuts known as Kuri or marron when it is in a sweet or dessert, sweet potato and a variety of squash and pumpkins.



Even the Starbucks gets on board with seasonal flavours like sweet potato or chocolate marron flavour. This year japan will be finally getting a pumpkin spice latte after a long 15 year absence along with Starbucks Reserve serving up a warming autumn spice oat latte.

I decided to do my own version with powdered hojicha, spices and warm oat milk. I made some chocolate chip pumpkin spiced loaf cake  to go with it. It made the perfect tea time snack.

To make the pumpkin spice loaf cake :preheat your oven 180 degrees c

I used 1 cup of puréed pumpkin that I had steamed and scooped from the flesh. Combine that in a bowl  with 1/3 cup of coconut oil, 1 tea of brown rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon  of maple syrup. In another bowl add x2 cups of plain flour, 1/2 cup of coconut sugar and 1/2 a cup of caster sugar,1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda a pinch of salt and some pumpkin spice ( I will let you decide how much spice you want to put in, you can also add other spices like cinnamon or nutmeg ) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and give it a good mix. I then gradually started to add oat milk. You can use any plant based milk. Add a little at a time until you get a batter consistency. Throw in some chocolate chips or walnuts are also nice and give it one final mix but don’t mix too much.
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour in the batter smoothing it out evenly. Bake for around 60 mins.
Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.
Japan sometimes refer to autumn also as Aki no Mikaku ( autumn the season of flavours ).

You may like to try making some simple rice dishes with mushrooms, chestnuts or sweet potato  that are popular at this time.

Another thing that people anticipate with the changing seasons is Momiji, this refers to the Japanese maple tree. As well as viewing the cherry blossoms in spring people in Japan are also excited about the turning of the maple leaves from green to bright vivid red and orange, this is known as kouyou or autumn colours.

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.

As well as viewing the beautiful leaves and partaking in eating delicious food. Japan has other sayings for autumn.

Dokusho no Aki ( Fall the season of reading ) with the nights drawing in people find it easier to sit and read.

Also Koraku no Aki ( Fall the season of athletics, or activities outdoors). I guess this is why on the second Monday in October Japan have a national holiday known as sports day. This year it was brought forward to coincide with the Olympics. 

Maybe it’s time to get out those winter blankets that you have put away over the summer, in Japan they have something called a kotatsu a table with a blanket and a heater underneath, doesn’t that sound cosy.

What ever way you choose to enjoy autumn I hope you are all stay safe and well. Why not take some inspiration from my autumn recipe food section and cook up something to celebrate the season with what ever seasonal produce you can find. Or go hunting for the changing leaves so you can admire them this is known as “Momiji -Gari” in Japan and is a very popular thing to do in Autumn. 

Autumn Food

Chestnut truffles

Chestnuts or Kuri as they are known in Japan are very popular in autumn. Japanese people like to cook them with rice and you will also find them in many desserts.

This is a quick recipe to make your own chocolate truffles. Perfect as a wagashi with a matcha tea.

You will need a pack of already cooked roasted chestnuts. Tip them out into a bowl and start to mash them.


Add two tablespoons of coconut palm sugar and start to cream the chestnuts with the sugar. This can take a little time. Add to this one heaped tablespoon of cacao powder and one tablespoon of melted coconut butter and again start to cream it altogether. Add a teaspoon of water at a time to make a dough. Do not add to much water you do not want a wet dough. Roll into balls and then roll the truffles in cacao powder.

You can also dip them in melted chocolate like my pumpkin Halloween truffles on another recipe on this website or why not add a centre of your choice it could be a nut or nut butter maybe even marzipan. You could even add chopped fruit to the dough or roll the dough in chopped nuts.
Why not experiment and give them a try. I would love to see anything you make so please tag me on Instagram and I will feature what you make.
Have fun in the kitchen.

 

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.

Autumn Food, Blog, Winter Food

Wide Noodles With Hokkaidō Pumpkin Sauce

Hokkaidō pumpkin, also known as red kuri squash. Kuri means chestnut in Japanese and this pumpkin has a chestnut taste and texture. In the UK we call it onion squash I guess more because of it’s shape than it’s taste.


I decided to use this pumpkin to make a sauce to go with some wide noodles that I had bought. They are brown rice noodles by Clearspring but you could easily use tagliatelle.


First I made the sauce, I used half a pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and chop into chunks and slice off the skin.
Finely dice 1/2 an onion and sauté in a little coconut or olive oil until tender.

Add the pumpkin to the pan with the onions and add enough water to cover and bring to a simmer. Then add half a stock cube and stir in to dissolve. Cover the pan and leave on a simmer until the pumpkin is tender and falls apart.

Then add a teaspoon of white miso paste and dissolve it in. Stir in about a one – two tablespoons of soy cream and two tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Use a hand blender to blend the sauce until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The noodles I used did not require cooking you just soak them for 30 minutes in boiling water. Either do this or cook your desired pasta or noodles. When they are ready stir in your sauce.

This simple sauce is so tasty you could also use this with more of a fusilli pasta and bake it like a mac and cheese if you wish with some grated vegan cheese on top.

I also added some blanched broccoli, chopped parsley and a scatter of chilli flakes, and served it with salad, for a filling comforting meal.

Autumn Food, Blog, Summer Food

Tsukemen ( dipping ramen )

Do you know Tsukemen?

つけ麺 /dipping ramen

This is a popular summer dish in Japan when the weather gets hot and humid. As it’s turning cooler in the UK now I thought it might be nice to make this dish as one final farewell summer Japanese meal.

Cold ramen noodles are served separately with a hot dipping soup. Pick up a few noodles and dip into the soup. 

I had a can of organic tomato and basil soup which I used as one dipping broth adding some chilli oil for extra spice and then some left over Kuri pumpkin soup and I used @ohsawa_japan_group ramen. 

Served with some roasted vegetables ( purple sweet potato,daikon,carrot,lotus root and eggplant. Also a shaved fennel salad with salad leaves.  For the salad I made a sesame/miso dressing.