It’s cold, snowy, rainy…. Whatever the winter weather may be in your area, the cold air makes you want to cuddle up in a blanket at home, right? If you can get one thing to complete the coziness, what would it be? For me, it’s Oshiruko! It’s a typical Japanese dessert for winter and it’s sweet azuki (red bean) soup with mochi (rice cake). I know it sounds weird, but it’s very good! I made it again this year, and it brought back some memories from my sweet home, Japan. For mochi, you can either use regular mochi or shiratama-dango. (see “Mochie Feast” from last year’s article for mochi.) Shiratama-dango is a small mochi ball and made out of rice flour – shiratama-ko. I like Shiratama for my Oshiruko experience and here is how I make it.
(You’ll notice when reading below that I don’t provide a recipe with the exact portion of each ingredient. That’s because I’ve never followed recipes so I don’t have them…. I think experimenting with ingredients and flavors are the fun part of cooking. You may get disappointed with a first try like I always have, but I think you’ll improve your sense of curiosity that way. )
It’s very easy to make shiratama dango. The rice flour you need to make this dango is not fine powdery flour. It’s rougher and larger texture and usually in a small 150g bag. A Japanese grocery store should have them.
Just put about a half bag (5-7 servings) of the flour into a bowl and pour water a little by little until you get a “play dough” consistency. The dough cannot be too sticky to your hands like mochi texture. If it gets like this, just add more flour to it. Once you make the dough, make a small 3/4″ ball. Press the middle with your finger to make a “belly” and make it a little flatter.
Put the dango balls into boiled water (medium heat). Once they start to float on the top, they’re ready to get scoped up. You can then eat them with anko, kinako (roasted soy bean powder and sugar mixture from “Mochi Feast”), ice cream or whatever you like.
Oshiruko Soup Base
Cook azuki beans like any other beans until they’re tender – soaking in water overnight helps to cook faster. The only additional step is to drain the water after it’s boiled to remove the bitter taste, and replace with fresh water. Don’t worry about how much water you need right now. The beans will soak up most of the water as you cook and you’ll end up adding more later.
Once the beans are done, add sugar to your liking and a little bit of salt. These are the only ingredients, so play around with your sugar until you get what you want. You cook for an hour or longer at low heat after adding the sugar so that all the water on the top gets dark and azuki color. Some people like more beans and others like more soup. If you like more of the soup part, add water and adjust your sugar. As I like seeing and tasting beans, beans occupy about 2/3 or more of my oshiruko portion.
And finally serve the oshiruko in a small bowl and add shiratamko. A cup of green tea will make your Japanese dessert experience complete!
So, what’s your comforting dessert??
Ever since we introduced Le Patissier’s Towel Cakes at our J Flair store, they’ve been very popular. Our customers love their unique designs, cuteness, wrapping, and most of all, the reasonable price. People purchase these Towel Cakes for wedding showers, baby showers, birthday gifts, tea parties, house warming gifts, etc…
The high quality colored towels are rolled up nicely and topped with a strawberry or cherry magnet. Each then is wrapped in a decorative way to look like a real piece of sweet desert.
When we display these towel cakes at our booth, people come straight to our cake display, thinking that we have some yummy deserts. Then I see surprise faces and smiles, and hear “wow” and “woo” when they realize that these are actually towels. They grab their friends and say “Look!! These are towels!!” and I see more surprised faces.
Some people think that these are too cute to use as a regular towel. No problem! You can use them as cute decorations around your house, and your friends may point out how adorable they look!
Easter is coming up. Instead of giving out (or eating) tons of the same old sweets, why not try something new and buy these cutest Towel Cakes this year? This is a little twist and surprise gift for your Easter gathering! You can give away these towels for your guests and I bet it will be a conversation topic for the day!
There are so many different kinds of traditional sweets (wagashi) in Japan, but when you don’t live there, you have to do what you can to satisfy your taste buds.
Because I missed the Japanese New Year feast (Osechi) and Zouni (clear soup with rice cake), I was craving for something very Japanese. So, I decided to challenge myself to make Mochi (rice cake). I’ve made Anko (sweet azuki bean paste that is typically used with Mochi) before, but making Mochi was my first time.
My only excuse for not making Mochi in the U.S. was because I don’t own a Mochi maker. But when my friend assured me that I could use my bread machine, I thought I had to give a try;
I cooked Mochi rice (Japanese sweet rice) in a rice cooker after soaking it over night. I transferred it to the bread machine and let it knead for a while (as soon as I opened the lid, I could immediately smell and feel the steam of sweet rice, and that made me smile). I put potato starch all over my hands to keep it from sticking, and quickly formed individual small pieces of Mochi in my hands. As a hot Mochi ball started to form in my hands, I was feeling grateful to be Japanese and able to enjoy this unique food. I was also excited and proud to accomplish this task that I’d never done before. I’d never thought that I would make Mochi when I was Japan. It was something that you would buy at a store.
To make this Mochi production be worthwhile, I decided to use this dough for various items:
Daifuku: Flatten a Mochi ball, put a spoonful of Anko in a middle and close it.
Ohagi: Cover Mochi with Anko. You’ll have to use saran wrap to form the shape. It’s opposite from Daifuku where Anko is in the center.
Kinako Mochi: Put Mochi in warm/hot water for a few seconds to get it wet. Cover it with Kinako (roasted soy powder) and powdered sugar mix – you can use regular sugar, but I don’t like the texture when everything else is smooth and powdery.
Ohagi with Kinako: Cover Ohagi with Kinako powder.
Oshiruko: Put Mochi in hot Oshiruko (sweet azuki beans soup). It may sound weird to some people when you hear “sweet”, “beans” and “soup” altogether, but this is a popular sweet dish in Japan. My favorite desert in winter!
Norimaki: Cover with dry seaweed and dip in soy sauce. I like to put butter on hot mochi and add cheese for more flavors!
I stopped counting how many I was eating after a while…..kind of scary to know…. All I know is I was stuffed and my stomach was VERY happy. It’s a good thing that I’m not on a diet…. I can not be, especially when I see Japanese food in front of me…
You can buy pre-made Mochi at a Japanese store, but the big difference is the softness of fresh mochi. Fresh ones are soft and gooey – just the way it should be. I was especially happy with the way that Daifuku and Ohagi turned out. I could’ve eaten 10 of them if I hadn’t been careful. See the photo- don’t they look delicious!
I thought I made enough Mochi to last for a while, but all disappeared very quickly. hummmm…… There are still many other Mochi dishes that I can make with limited ingredients in the U.S. I’m sure my kitchen will smell like yummy Japanese Mochi again soon.