Tag Archives: あんこ

Vegan Japanese Dessert: Yomogi Kintsuba/”Mugwort Sabre Guard”

I visited JA (Japan Agriculture) Agriroad Supermarket in Miwa, Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City this morning. Good exercise, as it is a 40-minute bicycle ride from my home up along the Abe River!

I had the pleasure to meet an old acquaintance, Mrs. Natsuko Koyanagi who works there on Wednesdays.
Actually she is one of the 15 out of a total of over 100 members of Agri Road working in shifts at the JA Agriroad Supermarket. All members are local farmer housewives who decided to form this association with subsidies from the Japan Agriculture Ministry as a “side business” to contribute to their husbands’ earnings. They grow their own food, flowers and cook take-away meals all sold at that supermarket. There are quite a few more in this city, all with a different name, but sharing the same purpose.

her specialty is making “Yomogi kin Tsuba” every Wednesday morning.
And I can tell you these do not stay long as they are freshly made in fornt of the customers who very often make personal orders through the phone early in the morning when she is prparing the batter and the sweetmeats!

Yomogi is mugwort.
Not to be confused with tujone, which was used to make the “Green Fairy”, aka Absinthe, which is now prohibited in its origanl form.
Mugwort grows almost everywhere in Japan and has been used as food and medicinal herb since immemrial times.
It is particularly rich in palmitic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, Vitamin A, B1 and B2!
It is particularly popular as tempura and cakes.
It is first crushed and worked into a paste before being mixed with water and flour.
Now, Mrs. Koyanagi uses only “Chikona wheat flour”, that is flour from wheat only grown and ground locally ensuring for the best quality and back tracing.
Moreover, she makes her own anko/sweetmeats with strictly locally-grown azuki beans and sugar.
Nothing else! I can assure you that vegans couls feed on them all day!LOL

Now, why the name “kintsuba”?
Kintsuba means sword guard. It has three openings, the middle one for the blade, the other two for the pins to secure the same blade and guard together.

As explained above, Mrs. Koyanagi prepares her own batter to a sticky paste, solid enough to be able to wrap it around a ball of anko.
She will then drop the cake on a hot plate (coated with a little oil) and press it with her three middle fingers so as to attain the shape of a sword guard!
Important note: Mrs. Koyanagai wears medical gloves during the whole operation.
Actually, one more reason she makes these cakes is because she receives the visit of many Nepalese through her charity work abroad. As her Asian friends are most of the time strict vegetarians, it becomes a double pleasure for her to feed them!

Incidentally, yomogi kintsuba was a very popular cake with the samurais of old times!

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Japanese Dessert: Matcha Anko Roll/ Matcha Tea & Sweetmeats Roll Cake

MATCHA-ANKO-ROLL

The “East meets West” expression has been used so many times that it has almost become corny, but this particular (and simple) cake definitely deserves the appellation!
Matcha & Anko Roll Cake:

INGREDIENTS: for 8 cakes/2 sponge sheets baked in 15 cm square mold

-Eggs: 2
-Flour: 30 g
-Sugar: 30 g
-Matcha: 2 small teaspoons
-Anko/Sweetmeats: 15 g x 8=30 g (See Recipe here)

RECIPE:

-In a large bowl, break the eggs and mix the sugar, half at a time. Beat until the mixture turns whitish and fluffy. Only then add 1 tablespoon of water and mix.

-Add tea half at a time and beat it in.

-Place cooking paer inside an oven square mold and pour half of the cake mixture. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 8~10 minutes. Repeat with the second half of the cake mixture.

-Take the ckae sheet and its cooking paper out. Turn sheet upside down onto a piece of cellophane paper. Once completely cooled down, take the cooking paper out carefully. Trim the sponge cake and cut into four 5×10 cm pieces (three along and one across).

-Place a ball ofanko in the middle of each piece of sponge cake and “lock/wrap” the sponge cake around the anko. Press the ends togeteher to make sure tey don’t open again. If they keep opening seal ends with syrup.

To be enjoyed with cold or hot green tea!

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Japanese Cakes/Wagashi 4: Recipe-Mochi

WAGASHI-SAKURA-MOCHI
Wagashi/Sakura Mochi

Here is a simple way to make mochi.
Bear in mind that mochi can be eaten fresh as it is especially with wagashi cakes and that it can be mixed with other ingredients for colouring. It can be aslo dried and grilled and also included in soups and other recipes such as mochi pizza!

INGREDIENTS:
Glutinous rice: 3 go (Japanese measure): 540 cc (2.8 cups)
Kinako (to taste)

Notes on kinako and glutinous rice:

MOCHI-KINAKO

Kinako (黄粉 or きなこ), also known as soybean flour, is a product commonly used in Japanese cuisine. In order to create the soybean flour, soybeans are toasted and ground into powder. Its flavor is commonly compared to that of peanut butter.

Kinako, being composed of soybeans, is a healthy topping and flavoring which contains B vitamins and protein. It can also be used as a drink;. For example, warabi mochi is a famous kinako-covered sweet

I will introduce a recipe soon!

MOCHI-TRADITIONAL

Glutinous rice (Oryza sativa var. glutinosa or Oryza glutinosa; also called sticky rice, sweet rice, waxy rice, botan rice, biroin chal, mochi rice, and pearl rice) is a type of short-grained Asian rice that is especially sticky when cooked. It is called glutinous (Latin glūtinōsus) in the sense of being glue-like or sticky and not in the sense of containing gluten; on the other hand, it is called sticky but should not be confused with the other varieties of Asian rice that become sticky to one degree or another when cooked.

RECIPE:

MOCHI-1
Wash the rice and let it soak in water overnight.

MOCHI-2
Pour water in steamer. Bring to boil. Set a clean cloth inside. Drain rice. Pour rice inside cloth. Dig a “well” in the middle for better cooking.

MOCHI-3
Steam over a medium fire for 20~25 minutes.

MOCHI-4
Pour hot water inside pestle bowl and leave the wooden sticks inside water for long enough to have all of them well impregnated with water. Throw water away just before next step. This will insure a better mochi!

MOCHI-5
Check rice for an even cooking. No water should be left or the mochi will be runny. If you make a small quantity, softer rice than usual is better as it will tend to dry faster than a large quantity.

MOCHI-6
Now this is the hard part!
You will need three adults to press hard on the rice with the wooden sticks at the same time to crush the rice completely. It might take as long as 10 minutes.

MOCHI-7
Now that the rice has been softened, One can continue on his own or work in shifts. Pound the rice in the middle 10 times. Turn over the rice from outside to inside and continue always around the clock.
Important: always pound in the middle, never on the sides or you will break the bowl!

MOCHI-8
That is how it should look. Make balls by twisting rice out.

MOCHI-9
Roll mochi in kinako mixed with sugar to taste. They are ready to be eaten!

MOCHI-10
This is how are served in Japan for children (and adults!)

MOCHI-11
If you want to preserve them for a while before eating, roll them in rice powder. Rice powder will come in useful if you want to fashion the mochi into thin sheets or else.

MOCHI-12
That is they look grilled!

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Japanese Cakes/Wagashi 3: Recipe-Shiro Anko/White Sweetmeats

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-1

In my previous article, I introduced the recipe for “red sweetmeats” or just “anko” in Japanese, an improtant ingredients in Wagashi.
But the red/violet colour is not always wanted.
Another popular way to make anko is to use “ingen mame”/kidney beans (US), or string/French beans (Europe).
Note that soy beans/”daizu” are not used in this recipe!
The advantage are multiple, as the “white” (actually beige) colour can be modified by adding green peas (green), pumpkin (yellow or orange), fruit pulp from papaya and mago. Variations are practically unlimited!

INGREDIENTS:
Kidney beans: 500g
Sugar: 400g
Salt: three small pinches

RECIPE:

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-2
Put beans in 3 times their volume of water in a large pan. Let soak for two nights. Change water twice a day.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-3
Beans should have lost their “wrinkles” by then.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-b
Bring water to boil over strong fire then simmer for 5 minutes on medium fire.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-4
Drain water, making sure beans don’t dry up. The skin of the beans should peel off easily. Take skins and dark spots away.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-5
Simmer again peeled beans until they soft and start breaking up. Start on a strong fire to bring to boil, then lower to medium fire.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-6
Heat until most of the water has evaporated. Beans will pass through sieve more easily.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-7
Pass all the beans through the sieve. Wash and dry the pan.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-8
Add sugar and stir/mix over low fire.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-9
Sugar becoming liquid upon heating will give a watery aspect to the mixture. Heat over low fire, stirring all the time for 25 minutes.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-10
Once satisfied with the paste consistency, add salt, mix and stop fire.

WAGASHI-SHIROANKO-11
Transfer to another dish for preserving until use. Do it at once while it is still hot.
Make sure it does not dry up.
Cover with a lid.
If lid does not close well enough, wrap the whole into cellophane paper.

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Japanese Cakes/Wagashi 2: Recipe-Anko/Sweetmeats

WAGASHI-4

One main ingredients in traditional Wagashi/Japanese Cakes is “anko” (or more simply “an”) which can be translated as “sweetmeats” or “bean jam”.

I would like here to introduce a simple way to make one’s own “anko” at home:

INGREDIENTS:

Azuki/Adzuki/red beans (in Japanese: 小豆): 150 g
Sugar: 150g
Salt: a little

RECIPE:

a) Wash azuki lightly. Put in a large basin with an equal amount of water and turn on heat to high.

b) Bring to boil. If beans level is higher that of water, add water till beans are completely covered. Let simmer. Add water 2 or 3 times as soon as the water does not cover completely the beans and this until beans stop floating on water.

c) Drain beans, put them back into basin with same amount of water and turno fire to high. Repeat a9 operation.

d) Cook as c) fro 40~60 minutes.

e) Mash azuki beans lightly. Add sugar. Simmer and stir to mix, making sure the jam does not overboil.

f) Add a little salt (to your taste) and mix.
Let cool completely.
You can eat as it is of course, but you will need it to make your cakes!
You can either sieve it to make it a very fine paste, sieve a part and mix it with the unsieved part, or use it as it is. In any case it will be easy to fashion!

WAGASHI-ANKO

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