Friday, September 24, 2010

wagashi and the five senses


One of the staff at Obubu Tea drew my attention to the TORAYA website, and I really wanted to share it with you because it has a lovely but concise explanation of how good traditional Japanese confections appeal to the five senses. Check it out! (I borrowed the attached image from the TORAYA website.)

14 comments:

  1. Recently found your blog while searching for anything on wagashi, which I'm going to attempt making soon. Hope it's okay to seek your help and advice from time to time!

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  2. Hi @Mari! Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm happy to do anything I can to fire your passion for wagashi. Good luck!

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  3. Thank you for your comment!

    Always so many discoveries in your blog!

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  4. Hello there!
    Just love your chronicles!!Please keep writing about Wagashi! Like you I really want to learn how to make or even apprentice with someone. I am learning Japanese and understand your passion for your wagashi!! Please advise if you know someone USA. Also you mentioned a few books..would you say what books are good to use? I can translate the Japanese very well thus recipes in Japanese not a problem.
    I have rambled on ..sorry..just so excited that someone like you has such a gift and is sharing!
    Thank you for your kindness!
    I live in Minnesota. The winters are long and very cold. Not much sunshine as we say.
    But you have given my winter sunshine!
    Thank you very much!
    Lyn EL

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  5. @Lyn El, two books that teach basic technique adapted for the microwave oven are 電子レンジでかんたん和菓子 by 松井ミチル and 和のおやつ by 金塚晴子. Whether you use traditonal equipment (like steamers) or modern equipment (like microwave ovens), the difficulty is in finding a retail source for the special ingredients of wagashi, like the different kinds of an, various rice flours, and specialty products like salted cherry leaves. Even in Japan it's hard to find these products unless you're a wagashi professional and can buy from wholesalers. When I can find them, I stock up for future use.

    I'm very familiar with Minnesota winters. Hokkaido is a lot like Minnesota, although we usually get more snow than you do, lasting from November till the beginning of April. The long dark days are hard to bear. I plan to post some New Year wagashi next month! Rabbit-shaped wagashi for the Year of the Rabbit. : )

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  6. Just found your blog and had to look through every post. I have dabbled in making homemade wagashi using mochiko and homemade an (I find even when I find canned I don't buy it because it is sooo sweet..) There is a confection I had once in Tokyo that I have not been quite able to duplicate and I was sincerely hoping you could help me out. It is so difficult to find information on wagashi in English! Please drop me a line or comment back if you wouldn't mind assisting me.

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  7. Kerri, thanks for your comment. I would be happy to help you (if I can). There are JILLIONS of different kinds of wagashi, especially in Tokyo, and some disappear without becoming well-known. But describe it to me and I'll try to get you some info about it.

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  8. Oh thank you! Ok, so I've tried to replicate them the best I can and what I have made is a shiro-an mixed with matcha, I enclose that with mochigome that I have pounded slightly to moosh the grains together but still keep some texture, and then the dusted the outside with katakuriko mixed with matcha powder. This comes pretty close to what I had in Tokyo, but the outside dusting is too dry and bitter. I don't know if I should add sugar or use a different starch or what. My husband would very much appreciate your help as these were his favorite things to eat while there (he ate about 2 or 3 a day and these are NOT small treats!). He calls them "Big Green Dusty Guys" and you can actually see some pictures of them at the bottom of my blog post on Japan (the most recent although it was months ago).

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  9. Hmm. My first thought when I read your description was that it might be UGUISU MOCHI (nightingale mochi) which is dusted with soybean flour called kinako. Depending on the region of Japan, Kinako can be made from yellow soybeans and is a brownish-yellow color, or from green soybeans (think edamame) and is a light green color. Uguisu-mochi is very popular and very traditional, so you will find references to it on the web with no trouble.

    When I saw the photos on your blog, I was surprised by the size, but I still think it could be uguisu mochi. Uguisu mochi is usually smaller and shaped just a little differently than the confection shown in your photo. There is no matcha in uguisu mochi. At least not in traditional uguisu mochi. Kinako is usually mixed with a little sugar when used to coat confections.

    I'll do a search to see if I can find the image of your mystery confection under uguisu mochi, and get back to you. I have a suggestion to make about the rice you're using too. More on that later...

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  10. pt 2. Okay, I'm convinced now that your photo shows a version of Uguisu Mochi. You should be using shiratama-ko for the mochi, and kinako mixed with white sugar for the dusting. I've never had uguisu mochi that was stuffed with white an-- it's always been dark an for me. I took a quick look through some of the recipes on the web and found this one in English: http://baking.hukuchan.com/?p=4611

    I will try to post an uguisu-mochi recipe on this blog in February (which is the usual time of year for these confections).

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  11. Hmm.. some of the Uguisu mochi definitely look very similar on the outside and we went in the spring so I guess it had the right timing, but the ones we ate had a texture to the dough, not smooth, but more like perhaps the doumyouji-ko you used in your sakura mochi. And the inside was a green colored an. Now I am not sure what the insides would have been made out of either! Could it be shiro-an with the green kinako mixed in rather than matcha? Or could it be something else entirely? I have other photos of the mochi that show the texture and the insides although I don't know how I would get them to you. Thank you for your help, this has really been a mystery for me!

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  12. I can easily believe there are shiro-an versions, and doumyouji-ko versions of uguisu mochi. They could be regional differences, or creative twists by the particularly confectioner that marketed them. I've seen kinako versions of o-hagi too, with textured mochi rice in the center and a sugar-kinako coating on the outside.

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  13. Debbie, I am bothering you one more time (at least for this topic) out of sheer curiosity. I found a picture I took in Japan of the card presumably marked with the name and price of the Big Green Dusty Guys and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind translating it for me. I don't know how to get the picture to you, though, unless you want me to just post it on my blog.

    In other news, I think your koshi-an bunnies look just adorable!

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  14. Kerri, I've posted an email link on my profile. You can send me the pic and I'll translate it for you. That should solve the mystery once and for all. :p

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