Tag

Mochi

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.

Winter Food

Kagami Biraki 鏡開き & “Chikara Udon”

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”) which is a Kami of the Shinto religion in Japan, a spirit that visits during this time to bring good blessings.
This is a ceramic one I brought back from Japan and the mochi is placed 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. You can use my recipe for Nabekko Dango from season 1 episode 1 of my The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House for the red bean soup, then just add grilled mochi rice cake instead of dango.
You could also eat your mochi Ozoni style.

You must never cut your mochi only break it as this is considered bad luck.


It is also tradition to eat Chikara Udon (力うどん) for Kagami Biraki. I decided to make this using up the remaining mochi which I didn’t use making zenzai. Using up the Kirimochi rectangular mochi which was put inside my Kagami for Toshigami 年神 (Great-Year God”) to bless it over the New Year. Kirimochi (切り餅) is a type of mochi (rice cake) made from pounded glutinous rice. It is molded into a rectangular or square shape and can be sold dried and individually wrapped if you do not buy it inside a Kagami for New Year.
This seasonal udon noodle soup has chewy udon noodles in a flavourful dashi broth with toasted Kirimochi (rice cakes), resting right on top with some simple other toppings of choice.
“Chikara Udon” means Power Udon, it is believed in Japan that mochi brings power and that the eater can get energy from the food.
Chikara Udon is often enjoyed in restaurants throughout Japan, to provide a warm hearty comforting meal on cold winter days.
Chikara Udon needs just a few other simple ingredients other than the kirimochi rice cake.
You will also need some udon noodles of choice, I decided to try some gluten free rice flour udon this time.
You will also need some Usukuchi soy sauce, which is lighter and paler in colour. Both of which I bought from the wasabi company. See the side or bottom of the page for link depending on your browser.
As well as these you will need some kombu kelp for making a simple overnight dashi stock, mirin and some toppings like chopped negi (green onion) and some other wilted greens like komatsuna. Other toppings could be  red pickled ginger, tenkasu (crispy bits of deep-fried tempura batter) and nori (seaweed).
With just a few simple steps you can put this meal together in minutes.
You will of needed to of made a kombu dashi the night before by soaking a piece of kombu kelp in water over night. The next morning take out the kombu and use the water for your stock. Around one litre of cold water with a piece of kombu around 3 inches.
Per person you will need 3 cups of dashi add this to a pan with :
1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin

x1 teaspoon sugar

Bring the dashi to a simmer while you cook your udon in boiling water in a separate pan as instructed on the packet of udon you are using.
Chop some green onion and blanch any greens.
Place your mochi under a preheated grill and toast on both sides until puffed up.
When your udon is cooked drain and rinse off the starch with cold water and add to your chosen bowl. Pour over your hot dashi add toppings and rice cake and eat while nice and hot.

Eating the mochi signifies a prayer for health and good fortune for the year ahead.
Winter Food

Karaimo Netabo (Satsumaimo & Brown Rice Mochi)

Coming of Age Day
成人の日
Seijin no Hi
Karaimo Netabo for Seijin no Hi
Monday January the 8th this year in Japan is coming of age day Seijin no hi 成人の日.
Seijin no Hi is a Japanese holiday held on the 2nd Monday in January and marks one’s coming of age (age of maturity). In Japan people turned or will turn 20 between April 2 of the previous year and April 1 of the current one may attend coming of age ceremonies (成人式 seijin-shiki). Ceremonial dress for women is furisode, a style of kimono with long sleeves and sandals, the kimono is often worn with a furry collar.
For men traditional dress is dark kimono with hakama (a kind of  a loose fitting trouser ). It may be common to see people in these elaborate costumes visiting shrines to pray for health and success.
Afterwards they may gather in groups and go to parties.
“Karaimo Netabo” からいもねったぼ
Mochi is often eaten in japan as a symbol of good fortune and a long life as it’s so stretchy. It is customary to make and eat “Karaimo Netabo” when pounding rice cakes during the year-end and New Year’s holidays at a ceremony called mochitsuki 餅つき. Karaimo Netabo, is a local specialty of Kagoshima Prefecture. Kagoshima was historically known as the “Satsuma” thus a Kagoshima grown sweet potato was named Satsumaimo.
Sweet potatoes were traditionally grown in Kagoshima and then spread to the rest of Japan. Today, Kagoshima ranks number one as a sweet potato producer in Japan.
Karaimo Netabo is also said to be called kneaded botamochi. It is also eaten as a snack during other occasions besides New Year’s so I thought it would be a nice to make this to celebrate Seijin no Hi, no matter what your age to celebrate good fortune and health for the year.
Using “Satsuma imo” Japanese Sweet potato with brown rice mochi then rolling in kinako (soy bean flour) gives this wagashi a delicious sweet nutty flavour.  It’s so easy to make with just a few ingredients.
You will need:

One large Japanese sweet potato. Give the potato a clean but do not peel.

Brown rice mochi (i used the one by Clearspring)

A pinch of salt

Kinako (roasted soy bean flour to roll the mochi in)

Method:

Slice the potato into thick rounds and steam in a steamer until soft.

Break each mochi in half and place on-top of each slice of potato and steam again together for a few more minutes.

Once steamed, mash the sweet potato with the brown rice mochi and a pinch of salt.

Add some kinako to a bowl

Spoon a ball of the mixture and drop it into the kinako then roll the mochi mixture in the kinako this will make it less sticky and easier to handle. You can then shape the mochi and place on a plate.

If you have a Kagami mochi to open for kagami biraki (鏡開き) on the 11th of January you could maybe consider making this with the mochi that is inside.

Here’s to a healthy year ahead.

Blog

Osechi Ryori The symbolic meaning behind Japanese New Year Good Luck Food

Happy New Year Akemashite omedetou 
 明けましておめでとうございます!
 
Many of the items served to celebrate New Year’s in Japan have symbolic meaning. It’s starts the night before on New Year’s Eve (oh-misoka ). At this time 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. This year I brought back from my trip to Japan some special inaka soba noodles from Shirakawa-go. These noodles are darker in colour and have a much stronger buckwheat flavour. They are made by grinding unhulled buckwheat seeds into a course flour. The result is a thicker noodle without the need for adding a thickening agent called tsunagi.


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.


Kanto style Ozoni (more popular in Tokyo and eastern Japan) which is a clear based soup known as Osumashi made with kombu dashi, 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). Osechi Ryori are traditional foods normally packed in a tiered bento box known as ojubuko 重箱 enjoyed on New Year’s Day in Japan. I like to make what significant food I can with vegan ingredients. This year this is what I made. The majority of the food symbolism comes from Shintō and some of the meanings are a play on words.

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). The various ingredients cooked together symbolise family unity.

  • 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.
  • konnyaku made into a knot shape signifies good relationships and a harmonious family.

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 and resemble celebratory wrapping strings used on joyous occasions. Julienned daikon and carrot pickled in a sweet vinegar with a hint of citrus. These vegetables symbolise a strong family foundation.

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. Japanese sweet potatoes with chestnuts in syrup called kuri kanroni (栗甘露煮.) The kanji for kinto turns into kindan (gold and silver treasures) evoking wealth.

Dried persimmon hoshigaki (干し柿). These ones are pretty special they are stuffed with sweet white bean paste and are a wagashi called Suikanshuku (粋甘粛) . It is traditional to eat dried persimmon over the new year as the wrinkled skin is said to be associated with longevity. The Japanese word for persimmon (not dried is kaki ) which means luck. 

Kuromame 黒豆 are Japanese black beans cooked in sweet syrup and are traditionally eaten at this time eating kuromame is considered good for your health for the new year.

Kuro means black but when the final vowel is extended it can mean hard work. Also mame means bean however again can mean sincere.

So it is said that eating kuromame in syrup for new years translates to those who are sincere and  work hard will have a good new year.

On my trip to Japan this year I stumbled across a store in Hase (kamakura) 2 minutes walk from Enoden “Hase” station, that  Specialize in Kanbutsu 乾物 dried foods ; seaweeds, mushroom shiitake and dried beans They sold a variety of dried foods, including local Shonan specialty hijiki and natural seaweed, as well as carefully selected beans from all over the country.

Ishiwata Genzaburo Shoten 石渡源三郎商店

 www.yamagen-mame.co.jp

Unchanged since its founding in the early Meiji era I spotted some hana mame beans (plateau flower beans). The beans from Gunma Prefecture are very large and have a very rich flavour. I had been given a precooked canned variety of these beans cooked in syrup a few years ago so I decided to buy some to make my beans in a sweet syrup this year.

You can use this recipe to make your own kuromame using other black dried beans.

Purple flower beans from Gunma Prefecture

~Delicious way to enjoy~

Rinse the beans in cold water.

Soak one cup of the beans the beans in three cups of cold water and one teaspoon of baking soda over night the day before cooking.

As the beans soak, they will swell

Change the water then boil in plenty of water over low heat until it boils. Once it boils change the water. Repeat this process  3 or 4 times. Then simmer them until they become soft. Whilst they are simmering skim off any scum and keep topping up the water so that the beans are submerged in at least 1 inch of water at all times. Check your beans are soft by pinching one of the beans they should yeild without squashing. This can take up to two hours.

Finally make your sugar syrup seasoning.

Add 2 cups of sugar to 1 and 1/2 cups of water to a pan and simmer to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to a syrup to about one cup.

Add the syrup to the beans and simmer.

Let the beans cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge.

shinodamaki 信太巻き
In the Kansai region, a dish using abura-age is often called shinoda (written as 信太 or 信田).

This originates from the legend of foxes living in the forest of Shinoda, and abura-age, which is believed to be their favorite food. I made shinoda with carrot and daikon tied with gourd known as kanpyo. I also made inari sushi.

Datemaki (伊達巻き) is a rolled sweet omelette. They symbolize a wish for many auspicious days. It resembles a scroll so also symbolises academic success. This year I tried to make a vegan version. I think it came out quite well.

I blended a vegan liquid egg replacer with half a block of silken tofu along with 2 tablespoons of mirin, 1 tablespoon of sake, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce  and 1 teaspoon of vegan honey.
Pour the mixture into a square pan 8×8 inches lined with parchment paper and place it in a preheated oven 180 degrees C  for 25- 30 mins.

It’s done when the top is nice and golden. Lift the cooked mixture out of the pan using the parchment paper. Lay a sushi rolling mat on top of the cooked mixture with the smooth side facing up, flip it over and peel off the parchment paper.

Make slight scores with a knife the same direction as the slats on the bamboo mat be careful not to cut all the way through, this will help it roll. Now roll your datemaki and secure either end with a rubber band. Wrap the hole thing in film and leave over night in the fridge.

Unroll your datemaki and slice.


2024 is the year of the dragon, why not read my next post about what’s in store for us as we head in to the year of the mythical beast.
良いお年を!( Have a great New Year ! )

Blog, Spring Food

Shōwa Day & A Taste Of Nostalgia with Pizza Toast

At the end of April beginning of May marks one of Japans biggest holidays known as “Golden Week”. It is a string of national holidays  starting with “Shōwa Day”. Many people take this time off to visit families, book a trip away, or simply take the time to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather by visiting a flower park or garden, before the temperatures start to rise and the rainy season comes.

Shōwa Day is on April 29th 2023. Shōwa 昭和 means “Bright Peace”  and was a unique period in Japanese history from 1929-1989, corresponding to the reign of the Emperor Hirohito the 124th emperor of Japan. This period was described as a significant breaking point in Japanese history that followed the “Taisho” period, with many events that happened over the 63 years. From World War II and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to Japan experiencing the largest economic growth outside of the USA between 1950-1970. Bringing with it a flourishing economy. Places like 7 Eleven opened and the Shinkansen train network grew. Tokyo hosted the 1964 summer Olympics and became the first city in Asia to do so. Also technological advancements like the Nintendo console was released in 1983.

From the 1970’s Japanese people started to take an interest in a variety of new dining options. Family restaurants, convenience stores or “konbini” and fast food chains spread across the country.


Despite being known for its green tea coffee culture started to become popular, with the birth of the kissaten in the Shōwa era. Kissaten is derived from three kanji  喫茶店 “consume” “tea” “shop” but is more widely known today for being coffee shops even though you can also buy tea and light meals. Why did the Kissaten grow in popularity throughout the era ? In fact it was in the 50’s a place that someone could go and listen to music, as people then still didn’t have the money to buy records. As time moved on corporate brands started to take over with chains of coffee shops and the Kissaten fell out of favour.

Now people again are looking for that piece of nostalgia and are finding relaxation in the dimly lit retro atmosphere of the Kissaten. With its old china cups, dark wood furniture, leather and velour upholstery and antiques, which have kept the Shōwa era vibe. In such Kissaten today you may see generations of families working in the same place, even the grand children helping out. The older generation visitors seam to have a strong attachment to these places, reminding them of a bygone time.

Menus in a Kissaten are quite similar offering coffee usually made with a drip machine which makes either a whole pot or dripped into a cup.
Nostalgic home cooked simple food is normally on offer with a “yoshoku” 洋食 western influence like spaghetti naporitan, Omurice, thick slices of ogura toast (toast with anko) sandwiches like fruit sando and tamago sando, curry rice, pancakes, melon cream floats, coffee jelly and purin.

Take a stroll through some of the Shitamachi old quaint neighbourhoods of Tokyo like Yanaka, Asakusa and Golden Gai to find nostalgic influences with buildings that survived World War II.

Shitamachi means lower city opposed to Yamamoto which means higher city. The term Shitamachi used to refer to places where lower classed people lived but nowadays for an area to be classed as Shitamachi it must have lots of alleys, many small workshops, flowerpots in the street next to the houses, curly shaped streets and many cats!

One such place that has many of these characteristics is the area “Yanesen” an area consisting of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi.

There is something quite comforting about the past which connects us to the present , with these places that have faced the challenges over decades of change, affectionately looked upon by the Japanese people as living culture from a bygone age. I am very fond of Yanaka and you can read more in previous posts with food inspired by the area and a walking tour.

Pizza Toast was created by a kissaten in Ginza Tokyo called Benishika which opened in 1957. It was made by baking cheese, onion, salami, sweet green peppers, mushrooms and thick slices of bread. Pizza toast is a very popular menu item in Japanese kissaten thick slices of shokupan milk bread topped with tomato sauce vegetables and melted cheese. Why not try making this snack for yourself . You don’t have to use shokupan just a nice thick slice of bread will do.
Back in 2017 when I first started this blog and vegan cheese was still something of a rarity I used to make cheese with mochi . You may even recall my mochi cheese on toast as one of my first ever recipes. So I decided in true nostalgic form to bring it back for my pizza toast recipe. Of course you have a lot more vegan cheese to choose from as things gladly have moved on quite a bit since then, but you could always give this a try for something a bit different and a little extra Japanese ingredient touch, as it gives that lovely melted cheese look.

Pizza Toastピザトースト

You will need:

An uncut white tin loaf  (cut a thick slice around 2 inches thick)

x1 piece of dried Mochi rice cake  (the kind you get in packets you put under the grill)

soy milk

turmeric

nutritional yeast

white miso

tomato purée

mixed herbs

Vegetables of choice like sliced mushrooms, sliced onion, green pepper, sliced cherry tomatoes.
Put your oven to warm on a moderate temperature

First make your mochi :

Put your dried mochi in a bowl and cover with soy milk, microwave for 30 seconds and then break it up with a fork.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, mix and put back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. The mochi will go gooey and sticky. Mash with a fork then add a teaspoon of nutritional yeast and a teaspoon of white miso. This will give your cheese flavour.

Add more soy milk to give the desired melting cheese consistency and put back in the microwave. Then mash with a pestle if you have one or add to a blender to get rid of any lumps. Then put aside.

Assemble your pizza. Take your bread and thickly spread the top with tomato purée add a sprinkle of mixed herbs, then place on your vegetables starting with sliced onion.


Warm your mochi cheese again in the microwave for a 15 seconds and pour over your vegetables adding sliced tomatoes on top and maybe a sprinkle of cracked black pepper.

Place in the oven on a wire rack so the bread can bake evenly and bake until the bread is crispy. Finishing off by browning the cheese under the grill.

Served of course with a coffee.

If you would like to know more about the Japanese golden week holidays I have lots more information in previous posts or why not try one of my other nostalgic recipes for vegan coffee jelly

Omurice

spaghetti naporitan

and purin for a taste of nostalgic Japan.

Blog, Spring Food

Valentines Day Ichigo Daifuku いちご大福


Will you be giving a valentine treat to someone this year?

In Japan it’s just the men that get the gifts off the women on February 14th, 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 . That’s a lot of chocolate! and some people make their own.

This year I decided to make a firm favourite at this time of year seeing as it’s peek strawberry season in Japan,chocolate ichigo daifuku! In Japanese ichigo いちご means strawberry.

I was inspired by seeing rows of these soft sweet  mochi in wagashi stores in japan.

I remember buying one in Kyoto from a lovely old wagashi store when I was on my way to one of my favourite sakura spots Hirano shrine. You can follow my walking tour 2 in Kyoto under my travel section to visit some more favourite spots.

Recipe for choco ichigo daifuku makes x5

You will need:

100g of Joshinko flour .

(Joshinko (上新粉) is a Japanese non-glutinous rice flour. As Joshinko consists of non-glutinous rice, the cake/dumpling using it is not so sticky. Instead, they have a pleasant, chewy bite. Even though it’s common to use Shiratamako flour I like the smooth texture of the Joshinko and find it’s easy to work with.

x1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

130ml of water

x2 teaspoons of raw cacao powder

Potato starch to dust the surface

For the filling :

x5 strawberries with the core removed

Bean paste Anko (餡子) (you can use smooth Koshian (こしあん) or chunky Tsubuan (粒あん) what ever you prefer.)

You will also need some powdered icing sugar for dusting if you wish, a microwaveable bowl and compostable cling film.

Method:

Make x5 small balls of bean paste and put aside

Core your strawberries and put aside.

Add Joshinko flour to a bowl add sugar and cacao powder and mix then add your water and whisk well to combine add a little extra water if you think it’s too thick it should have a batter consistency.

Cover the bowl with cling film and microwave for 4 mins. Remove from the microwave and pound your mochi with a pestle. When it’s smooth and elastic tip the mochi out onto a slightly damp surface dampen your hands a little as well and knead the mochi.

Dust a different surface lightly with potato starch.

When your mochi is nice and stretchy place on your dusted surface and form into a log shape and cut five equal pieces.

Take each piece and roll into a ball then flatten in your hands. Put a bean paste ball in the middle of your flattened mochi and fold the mochi over the bean paste rolling it back into a ball. Dust each one with a little potato starch and do the same to the rest of the mochi.

Then make a cut across the top of the mochi balls so you can push a strawberry inside on the top. Dust with icing sugar and your done.

They are best eaten fresh on the day.

I have a few recipes to inspire you for Valentine’s Day on my recipe pages. Even if you do not make these to give away you can always make them for yourself as a treat.

Most of my inspiration for my recipes has always come from experiences on my travels to japan. I can’t wait to finally get back this year. It’s been a long wait.

Happy Valentine’s Day

ハッピーバレンタインデー

 

 

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

Tokyo Pony Recipe Card 3 Hinamatsuri 雛祭り

 


RECIPE CARD NUMBER
3️⃣

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March “Hinamatsuri “

雛祭り桜餅

The third  in the series of Tokyo Pony monthly recipe cards following the seasons and traditions of Japanese vegan food.

My third recipe card marks the second in the five main seasonal festivals of japan “Hinamatsuri”. There are many traditional foods eaten on this day one of them being the spring seasonal wagashi ( Japanese sweet ) “Sakura Mochi “ 桜餅.

You can now experience the taste of cherry blossom season in Japan by making these sweet, chewy  Sakura Mochi at home with this months recipe card.

The sweets are made with an edible salted pickled Sakura leaf which are difficult to find outside of japan. Each recipe card comes with one pack of 10 salted pickled Sakura leaves to make the perfect combination of salty and sweet wagashi.

These sweets can be eaten for Hinamatsuri on March 3rd and also  enjoyed throughout the spring season.

Hurry there are limited quantity of these so get in quick !

Enjoy the recipe!

To purchase :

click the “SHOP” link in the menu

Thank you so much for your orders ??

And all your continued support . I hope you will enjoy making Japanese seasonal food along with me.

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, Winter Food

Year of the Tiger Tora 虎 2022


明けましておめでとうございます!

Happy New Year to you all ! This year is the year of the Tiger. 

Years of the Tiger include 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938.….

The zodiac sign Tiger is a symbol of strength, exorcising evils, and braveness.

People born in a year of the Tiger are brave, competitive, and confident. They are very charming and well-liked.

Tigers usually enjoy good health. Colds coughs, and fever, are rarely experienced by Tigers. Let’s hope that’s a good omen for 2022

The Tiger ranks third among the animals of the 12 zodiac animals

in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year-cycle.

Tigers in temples

I have talked about Kurama-dera (鞍馬寺), before In a previous post “Yama no Hi “.

On visiting the main hall you see some very unusual guardians . Tigers protecting the main temple .

Why unusual? Usually, two koma-inu, or sacred dogs, protect the entrance of temples. However Tigers are considered to be messengers of the Buddhist divinity Bishamonten, one of the Four Heavenly Kings and the protector of northern Kyoto. According to legend, Bishamonten came to Kurama with a tiger in the Hour of the Tiger, on the Day of the Tiger, within the Month of the Tiger according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Called “the tigers of A-Un”, the concept of A-Un is one that encapsulates all of life from its beginning to its end. 

The two tigers sit facing each other, one with an open mouth representing the beginning and the other with a closed mouth representing the end. These two tigers are a metaphor of the universe.

New year Osechi-ryōri (御節料理, お節料理 or おせち) are traditional Japanese New Year foods.

I make Osechi Ryori 御節料理 or お節料理 every year for New Year’s Day ( Ganjitsu 元日). Even though I am not in Japan I feel making it can bring Japan closer to me with  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 have done a few posts on new year foods over the years on my website why not check them out.

Osechi Ryori are traditional foods normally packed in a tiered bento box known as ojubuko 重箱 enjoyed at New Year’s Day in Japan.

These boxes can contain small appetizers to go with drinks,  grilled and vinegared dishes, and simmered dishes. All dishes are eaten  at room temperature,  like a bento box. If the dish contains countable food like Inari for instance then serve in auspicious numbers 3, 5, 7, or 9 pieces. To make your box look pleasing to the eye Coordinate your colours. I also like to use small bowls and dishes These small bowls are called Kobachi 小鉢 and it’s nice to use ones with bright colours and pretty patterns. Try looking at Musubikiln which have a lovely selection of such bowls to purchase on their website.

I have made a vegan selection of traditional dishes.

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

Sekihan (Red Bean glutinous Rice) 赤飯 traditional rice dish served on happy occasions which I stuffed some into inari いなり寿司. The other  Inari was  komatsuna Yuzu citrus vinegared rice.

Namasu (なます) or also known as Kohaku Namasu (red and white)(紅白なます) Red and white are considered celebratory colours 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.

This year I was lucky to be given by a friend in Japan some very special  Hanamame which are from Gunma .

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. Japanese sweet potatoes with chestnuts in syrup called kuri kanroni (栗甘露煮.)

aburaage rolls with daikon and carrot 油揚げロールズ tied with kanpyo. Black sesame Gomadofu, Ginnan, simmered Kabocha and Yuzu tofu mousse served in a Yuzu fruit.

ピーチビーガンゼリー Peach vegan jelly


Start  the New Year’s Day with a traditional Japanese breakfast.

This breakfast soup, said to be the most auspicious new year food 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.


関東風书雜煮 Kanto style Ozoni

(more popular in Tokyo and eastern Japan ). This is a clear kombu dashi, with mirin and tamari known as Osumashi.

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 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. This time it is traditional to use a rectangular or square mochi for Kansai style.

As we head into a new year I wish all of you a healthy and happy one. And for those of you who are missing Japan because you cannot travel let’s make Japanese food together to help us feel closer to the place we love and miss so much.

Blog, Spring Food

Kodomo no hi

Children’s day as it’s now known is part of the Golden week celebrations in Japan. Formally known as Boys Day due to Girls day being in March. However Girls day is not a public holiday so Boys day now refers to all children, and this day is now set aside to celebrate children’s health and happiness. That said the symbolism still remains very male for this day. The Kabuto warrior helmet and samurai armour being a symbol of strength maybe displayed today. This is the third of the five seasonal festivals Go-Sekku, this one being Tango no Sekku it is also known as Ayame no hi or iris festival.  You may see houses decorated with iris flowers which are blooming now. The name for iris in Japan is Shobu ( meaning battle), the leaf is shaped like a sword and were considered auspicious by samurai warriors. Much like the Yuzu baths on winter solstice it is custom to take a bath with iris at this time.

You will see koi streamer  like wind socks flying all over Japan over Golden week known as koinobori , the koi again symbolises strength and as they blow in the wind look like they are swimming. Normally households will have colours to symbolise the family black for the father, red or pink for the mother then the children are symbolised with blue green or orange.


Like for Hinamatsuri (girls day) there are foods that are traditional at this time to celebrate children’s health and happiness. I have a few previous posts about this which maybe you would like to read also.
A traditional wagashi (Japanese sweet) is Kashiwa Mochi wrapped in an oak leaf (not edible)  this Mochi symbolises a child’s growth to be strong like the oak tree. If you would like to make these I have a recipe for Kashiwa Mochi plus more information about them.


Other traditional foods eaten today would be Nishime simmered vegetables often also eaten at new year but adding seasonal bamboo to symbolise growth. Sekihan azuki bean rice which is often eaten at times of celebration and  Chirashi sushi (scattered sushi).

However as this is a time for children what do children like to eat in Japan ? According to a survey with parents the top ten foods that children like to eat now are:

1: curry rice as the favourite 2: sushi 3:chicken karaage 4: hamburger steak 5: ramen 6: yaki niku 7: potato fries 8: Omurice 9:pizza 10:sashimi. When asking the parents what they enjoyed as a child things were pretty similar but in a different order but curry rice remained triumphant. A few replacements were korokke instead of yaki niku and omurice was at the number 2 slot with sukiyaki being at number 8 . There was no pizza or potato fries.
How about making some meals with Japanese children’s favourite foods for children’s day and celebrate with these with your family ?

Vegan hamburger steak

vegan Omurice

If you want to make curry rice you can just follow the curry recipe for my curry ramen and have it with rice for that traditional Japanese parent and child favourite meal.


Happy Golden Week !

 

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!