Tag Archives: Sweetmeats

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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French Cake: Brioche aux amandes/Almonds Brioche

ALMOND-BRIOCHE

The French are so fond of their brioches that almosteach region has its own special one!
This recipe originates from the French Alps:
Brioche aux amandes/Almonds Brioche!

INGREDIENTS: for 6 persons

-For the Brioche:
Flour: 300 g
Sugar: 50 g
Fast leavening baking powder: 2 small regular packs
Milk: Half a cup/100 ml
Eggs: 4 medium-sized
Melted butter: 90 g
Salt: a pinch

-For the cream:
Soft butter: 60 g
Sugar: 90 g
Thick fresh cream: 60 g
Almond powder: 80 g
1 lemon peel/finely chopped

RECIPE:

-4 hours and 30minutes before baking, prepare the brioche pastry.

-Mix flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Then add eggs, melted butter and milk. Mix vigourously for 5 minutes.

-Cover bowl with a cloth and let the pastry rise in a warm place for 3 hours.

-After all that time, prepare the almond cream by mixing i a bowl, soft butter, sugar, fresh cream, almond powder and the lemon peel.

-Knead the brioche pastry again and shape small “bars”, 10 cm long and 3 cm diameter..

-Lay a large piece of cooking paper over the oven plaque.
Place the brioche bars 1 cm apart in a pattern of your choice. Pour the almond cream between them.

-Let the briche rise again in a warm place for 1 hour.
Bake for 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Best enjoyed with a hot chocolate!

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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 12: Recipe-Dango/Sweet Dumplings

DANGO-1a
(Mitarashi Dango)

This simple recipe is particularly dedicated to my friends at Bouchonfor2, Bread + Butter, Eeyoreblues 27 and The Sophisticated Gourmet!

Japanese dango are not complicated, although it might be better to make a lot at a time!

INGREDIENTS:
-Rice (“Uruchi Kome”/normal Japnese round rice): 200g
-Water (for dango): 130cc
-Water (for sauce): 60cc
-Cornstarch: 1 teaspoon
-Sugar: 1 teaspoon
-Soy sauce: 2 teaspoons

RECIPE:

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Wash rice thoroughly.
If rice is no-wash type, skip 3 first steps.

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Once the rice washing water is coming out clean, drain rice and spread ontowel. Take off all excess humidity.

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Let the rice dry for two hours.

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Pour rice in Blender/mixer. First work the blender for only a few seconds at a time until all the rice has been broken completeley. Then blend three times 15 seconds at a time.

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If the rice does not turn into powder easily, sift rice as many times as necessary until all rice has been reduced to powder.

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Finish the job with mortar and pestle.

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Once the rice has been reduced completely topowder, work the pestle in for 5 more minutes.

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Add water and mix well with spoon.

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Divide into small portions and steam for 15 minutes.

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In a pan add cornstarch to water (for the sauce). keep stirring over a low fire. once the water has been become transparent add sugar and soy sauce and mix well until you obtain a smooth syrup. take off fire.

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Fill a glass with water and keep within arm’s reach.
Drop all the steamed dango paste into mortar.
Work dango paste with a wet wooden pestle.
Once the paste ahas been become sticky and elastic, form small balls (the operation should not last more than 10 minutes).
Wet them to prevent them from sticking to each other.

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Push a wet (important!) stick through the balls (4 or 5 at the most).
Grill the balls (or not) for better effect.
Serve them smeared with syrup.

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Japanese Cakes/Wagashi 11: Dango/Sweet Dumplings

DANGO-1a
(Mitarashi Dango)

Dango (団子) is a Japanese dumpling made from mochi-ko (rice flour), related to mochi. It is often served with green tea.
In Edo times, they were very popular at tea stands along the country roads.

Dango are eaten year-round, but the different varieties are traditionally eaten in given seasons. Three to four dango are often served on a skewer. One variety of dango from Hokkaidō is made from potato flour and baked with shoyu (soy sauce).

Types of dango:

There are many different varieties of dango which are usually named after the various seasonings served on or with it.

DANGO-2
Chadango: Green-tea flavored Dango.

DANGO-4
Dango served covered with anko

Actually, if you want to write all about Dango, you’d need to publish a whole book!

Chichi dango: Slightly-sweet light treats usually eaten as a dessert.

DANGO-1
Hanami dango: Also has three colors, Hanami dango is traditionally
made during Sakura-viewing season. Hence the name Hanami (Hanami means “flower viewing”; hana meaning “flower”, and mi meaning “to see”).

DANGO-1b
Kushi dango: Dango held by a skewer

DANGO-3
Mitarashi: Covered with a syrup made from shouyu (soy sauce), sugar and starch.

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Japanese Dessert: Kakigoori/Shaved Ice with Syrup

KAKEKOORI-1

Kakigōri (かき氷) is a very popular Japanese dessert made from shaved ice flavored with syrup.
It was served for the first time in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1869!

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Popular flavors include: strawberry, cherry, lemon, green tea, grape, melon, “blue-Hawaii” sweet plum, and colorless syrup. Some shops provide colorful varieties by using two or more different syrups. To sweeten Kakigōri, condensed milk is often poured on top of it.

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It is nearly identical to a snow cone but can have a slightly rougher consistency and a spoon is almost always used. The traditional way of making kakigōri involves using a hand cranked machine to spin a block of ice over an ice shaving blade. However, electric ice shavers are most often used, though street vendors can still be seen hand-shaving ice blocks in the summer.

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In addition to the streets, kakigōri is also sold in festivals, convenience stores, coffee shops, and restaurants. During the hot summer months, kakigōri is sold virtually everywhere in Japan. Some coffee shops serve it with ice cream and sweet bean paste. Convenience stores may also sell it already flavored and packaged similar to ice cream.

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In other countries in East Asia, similar varieties can be seen.

Halo halo: Filipino shaved ice topped with sweetened beans, nata de coco and ice cream. “Halo-Halo” literally means “mix-mix” in the Tagalog language. Some shops in Japan also sell these sweets.
Bingsu (빙수) Korean shaved ice. The most popular kind is patbingsu. It is topped with sweetened red beans, canned fruits, and soybean powder. Many other varieties can be found throughout the country.
Bàobīng (刨冰) in Mandarin Pinyin or Chhoah-peng (剉冰) in Taiwanese POJ: Taiwanese shaved ice. There are many varieties in Taiwan. Some of them are topped with fresh fruits, fruits syrup and condensed milk. Some of them are topped with sweetened beans, glutinous rice balls and brown sugar syrup, while others will even use seafood. Some vendors use milk ice to make finer shaved ice, and some vendors may sometimes use a hand blade to shave block ice in order to produce rough crushed ice.
Ice kacang: Malaysia and Singapore Shaved ice topped with sweetened syrup of various colours and flavours, condensed and evaporated milk, and sometimes also durian pulp or vanilla ice cream. Beneath the ice sweetened red beans, canned fruit, attap seeds and grass jelly are usually added. Electric ice shavers are often used; though some vendors may use a hand blade to shave the ice in order to produce a rough texture. A variation of this would be Cendol which is shaved ice with sweet green coloured glutinous rice noodles drizzled with palm sugar it is usually accompanied with kidney beans and canned sweetcorn.
Nam Kang Sai: Thai Shaved Ice. In Thailand, this kind of cold dessert is very popular as well. The differences from other countries’ shaved ice is that in the Thai version the toppings (mixings) are in the bottom and the shaved ice is on top. There are between 20-30 varieties of mixings that can be mixed in. Among them are young coconut that have been soaked in coconut milk, black sticky rice, chestnuts,sweetened taro, red beans, sarim (thin strands of cooked flour that is very chewy and slippery) and many more.

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Japanese Cakes/Wagashi 10: Youkan: Easy Recipe-Mizu Youkan

MIZU-YOKAN-1

Youkan come in many guises. Here is an easy and ver basic recipe for “Mizu Youkan” that you will be able to adapt into many creations of yours! For vegans, vegetarians and omnivores!

INGREDIENTS:
-Boiled azuki beans: 1 can (430 g)
-Brown sugar: 60 g
-Salt: a pinch
-Agar agar Powder (“kanten” in Japanese): 4 g
-Water: 300 ml + 300 ml

RECIPE:

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Blend beans and 300 ml of water until smooth.

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Pass mixture through fine sieve.

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In 300 ml of water drop agara agar. Bring to boil, stirring at the same time. Then keep stirring vern medium fire for 1 minute.

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Switch off fire. Pour sugar and salt. Mix well. Add bean paste. Mix well.

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Pour in recipients of your choice (that is when the fun starts!) and let cool completely. Keep in fridge (not too cold, please). Take out of recipient and serve!

More recipes to come!

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