Wednesday, February 2, 2011

usagi mochi (gyuuhi series)

I've been busy in the kitchen making all kinds of rabbit-shaped confections in celebration of the year of the rabbit, and had meant to post some of them before the end of January. Unfortunately, I used up all the ingredients for the popular Usagi Manju before I could refine the recipe enough to share with you.

So while I wait for my pantry to be restocked, I've been playing around with gyuuhi. Gyuuhi is made from shiratama-ko (glutinous rice flour, sometimes sold as "mochi-ko"), sugar, and water. Confections made with gyuuhi usually have the word mochi in the name. You may remember that I first introduced gyuuhi a year ago, in the post on plum blossom confections.

Gyuuhi is easy to make, tender,and smooth, so using it to cover a ball of filling and shaping it as you please is relatively easy. In today's post, I wrapped the gyuuhi around a ball of koshi-an, and gently patted it into the rabbit shape that is traditional in the world of wagashi (thick in the rear and slimming to a rounded point in the front). Gyuuhi is too tender, however, to use for shaping the bunny ears, facial features, or bunny tail. So I marked the ears and face with a toothpick dipped in red food coloring. This is common in the world of wagashi, but I find it less than aesthetically satisfying.

Koshi-an (smooth an)......200 grams
Shiratama-ko.............50 grams
Sugar.........................50 grams
water.........................80 cc
katakuri-ko (potato starch)... enough for dusting work surface
tiny bit of red food coloring dissolved in water

(Note: measurement conversions can be found in the plum blossom post)

1. Divide the koshi-an into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Set aside.
2. Place shiratama-ko, sugar, and water in a microwaveable bowl and whisk ingredients briskly till there are no clumps at all.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and heat in microwave oven at 500 for 3 minutes.
4. Mix the goo-ified ingredients rigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula, and remove the resulting clump of dough to a katakuri-ko (or cornstarch)-dusted surface.
5. Divide gyuuhi dough into 8 pieces and flatten each into a circle. Place one an ball in the middle of each circle and wrap gyuuhi around the ball.
6. Pat the filled dough into the rabbit shape described above. Dip a toothpick into the dissolved food coloring and press into the "rabbit" at the right places to mark its ears and face.

Give me a couple more weeks, and I should be able to post a recipe for Usagi Manju.