It is the best season to enjoy strawberry desserts. How about making Ichigo-daifuku (mochi filled with strawberry and bean paste)?
Ingredients: 8 strawberries, 200g red beans, 100g shiratama-ko (glutinous rice flour), 180ml water, sugar (180g for bean paste, 50g for mochi), potato starch
1. Make anko (bean paste) *Please refer to this post for details.
2. Make anko balls by wrapping each strawberry with anko.
3. Mix shiratama-ko, 50g sugar and 180ml water in a bowl. Microwave it for about 2 minutes and mix well. Repeat this process 2-3 times. Move this mochi paste to the tray (spread enough potato starch on its surface) and leave it until it becomes less hot so you can touch (but do not cool it down completely). Divide it into 8 equal parts using a scraper.
4. Wrap anko balls with shiratama mochi. It requires some technique as the mochi is really soft and sticky. Put enough potato starch on your hands when touching. Spread mochi on your hand and put anko ball and wrap it.
“Satsumaimo-no-lemon-ni (Japanese Sweet Potatoes Simmered with Lemon and Sugar)” is extremely easy and quick to make. It can be served hot or cold, as side dish or dessert. It lasts about 4-5 days in a fridge.
Ingredients: 2 small Satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potatoes), 1/2 lemon, sugar and water
- Slice sweet potatoes in 1cm thick. Peel off the lemon and slice them in 5mm thick. Put them in a pod.
- Pour water over them till they are just barely covered.
- Add 2 tbsp sugar, heat and simmer till soft.
- Leave them in a pot for a while to allow the taste of lemon and sugar go into the sweet potatoes.
*When you store them in a fridge, keep them with the lemon syrup left in the pod in a container with a lid.
Asakusa is no doubt one of the most touristic places in Tokyo. After dark, it gets less busy and you can enjoy a pleasant walk around Sensoji-temple.Kaminari-mon (雷門).
Nakamise shopping street.
The main building.
Tokyo Sky Tree on the right side.
“Umezono (梅園)”, located just off of the Nakamise street, is a highy recommendable place to enjoy traditional Japanese desserts, which has a history of over 160 years.
Their specialty “Awa-zenzai (あわぜんざい, steamed sticky millet with sweet bean paste, 777 JPY-)” is a suitable treat after a long walk on cold days. It’s served with pickled perilla seeds.
How to order is a bit different from general coffee shops. After you walk in the shop, you buy a ticket at the counter then have a seat at a table. A waitress will come to pick up this ticket and serve green tea.
Today is the winter solstice. What do you do on this day in your contries? In Japan, there are two practices.
One is to take a “yuzu-bath” – putting several yuzu fruits in a bath, which is said to prevent cold and flu.
Another practice is to eat food which names include the sound of “n” to bring “un (luck)” – namely, nankin (kabocha = pumpkin), undon (udon= noodle), renkon (lotus root), ninjin (carrot), kinkan (Kumquat), ginnan (ginkgo nut ) and kanten (agar). Among them, the representative one is pumpkin. It is said that, in the old days when it wasn’t so easy to secure food in winter, they kept pumpkins they grew in summer and start eating them on this day.
So today, I made kabocha–zenzai (sweet bean soup recipe with pumpkin). Here’s how to.
Ingredients: pumpkin, red beans, sugar (60% of red beans: please adjust the amount as you like. I prefer less sweetened beans but usually red beans:sugar =1:1.) , a pinch of salt.
- Make anko (sweet bean paste). Wash beans, add them and cold water in a pod. Once it’s boiled, throw away hot water. Add cold water (4 times the amount of the weight of beans) in the pod again. Simmer for an hour. When the beans become soft enough, flavor with sugar and add a pinch of salt. *If it becomes too thick while cooking, add extra water.
- Cut the pumpkin into bite-sizes. Microwave (or steam) them till soft.
- Serve in a bowl.
When they hear the English word “sweet potato”, most Japanese people think of this dessert rather than the sweet potato as a vegetable. My mom makes this dessert every autumn, and she gave us some pieces last weekend. For a long time, I thought this was a western dessert and didn’t know that it was invebted by a Japanese patissier in Tokyo during the Meiji era. Today it’s sold in many confectionary stores nationwide and widely cooked at home as well.
So here’s my mom’s recipe 🙂
300g Japanese sweet potatoes. 30g butter. 1 egg yoak (1/2 to mix with sweet potatoes, 1/2 for the surface). 3 tbsp sugar. 2-3 tbsp milk (or fresh cream), 1 tbsp whiskey (or rum).
Microwave (or steam) sweet potatoes until soft to peel, mash and strain. Add butter, sugar while the sweet potatoes are hot and mix well. Then add egg yolk, milk and whisky. Mix further. Put this sweet potato cream in foil cups, brush some egg yolk on the surface. Bake in the preheated oven (200°C) until browned.
When I was a child, I belonged to a Home Ec Club. And this “Chakin Shibori” (chakin=a cloth used in the tea ceremony, shibori=squeeze, twist ) was the first dessert recipe I learned there. No doubt it’s the easiest wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets)! Although its taste is quite simple, it goes very well with Japanese tea, either matcha or sencha. And it’s healthy! It’s worth trying while the sweet potatoes are in season.
1. Peel sweet potatoes and cut it into chunks.
2. Steam or microwave the chunks until tender.
3. Mush the potatoes while it’s hot. If you want, add sugar, milk, butter, macha, cinnamon powder, etc…This time, I added a tablespoon of condensed milk.
4. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the mashed potato onto the cloth or plastic wrap, and squeeze it into a ping-pong sized ball.
5. Unwrap it!