Elise, who gave me top tips on photography back in the early days, is being the host this month with Is My Blog Burning-15 Has my blog jelled?.
Red bean paste is a key ingredients for numerous Japanese desserts and appears in places such as; taiyaki – a fish shaped crepe popular at festivals; dorayaki – filled pancakes much loved by this robot cat with a four dimensional pocket; and innumerable souvenirs form Kyoto as manju. Eaten it many times but never made it, so it’s a very orthodox attempt, particularly after my two previous adventures with jellied delights.
I’m happy to report that it was easy to make and it seemed that the recipe was very forgiving. I was going to use a sugar-free dessert book I picked in Japan but the recipe called for pureed dates (!) and I was overwhelmed by kanji. I fell back on the old and faithful The Joy of Japanese Cooking by Kuwako Takahashi.
Mizu youkan is nothing if not interesting. I love it but Toni hates and gave the judgement of it tasting like it should which I guess is good. Perhaps the closest thing I could compare it to is the pumpkin in pumpkin pie. Well worth a try for a different texture and a different kind of sweetness.
The sweet bean paste made from azuki beans appears under a number of descriptions in English but in Japanese it’s referred to as either an or anko. The latter has more more potential for unpleasant pronunciation mix-ups, so I’d go with the an. You can soak the azuki beans overnight but here’s the method I followed.
1) Boil one cup of azuki beans in plenty of water for approximately 15 minutes and then drain, this will remove the dark juices.
2) Return the beans to the pot and cover with three times its volume of water, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer over a medium heat until the beans are very soft and can be crushed easily. Remove any froth that comes to the surface while you’re doing this.
3) Drain the beans in a teatowel in a colander and squeeze to remove any excess moisture (it will be hot so do be careful)
4) Return the beans to the pot and add one cup of sugar and one teaspoon of salt. This makes it quite sweet so you could cut back and add more later. Stir with a wooden spoon over a medium heat, the sugar should soften the beans and give it a sheen, continue stirring until “you can see the bottom for 10 seconds as you stir”.
And you’ve just made an. You have a choice whether you want it to be smooth Koshi-an and give a spin in a blender, or rougher Tsubushi-an and just crush it with the wooden spoon. As I wanted the more interesting texture of the latter but still needed a smooth surface, I made a compromise by attacking part of it with a bamix. It can now be in the fridge for three days or it can be frozen or made into
Agar agar is used here and goes by the Japanese name of kanten. Some recipes call for “sticks” but as they don’t specify, the correct weight to be used can be guessed by looking at the weight of the packet you have and cutting appropriately (scales schmales).
1) Soak 8gm of agar agar in water for one hour, drain, squeeze, and cut into small pieces.
2) Add to two cups of water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring until dissolved.
2) Gradually mix this in with two cups of an. Cook over a low heat, adding sugar or salt to taste, until well mixed.
3) Remove from the heat and mix in another 1 cup of water. Place in in a smaller bowl to go in a larger bowl with cold water and stir until lukewarm. This ensure the colour goes all the way through the jelly. Put it in a pan and refrigerate until set. It should be about an inch high.
Now it’s just a matter of cutting it into slices. I cut it into tuna sashimi size with a slight angle cut. Enjoyed with sencha green tea with enough sunshine to pretend it was a mild summer’s day. I’ll have to defer on Chika on the confusions of green tea. And if anybody could tell me what the tiny back scratchers are in the top pic, I’d be very grateful.
Double the youkan action: with ‘Ono Kine Grindz
Tags: music hall