Purple Sweet Potato Mochi

It was the time I had to develop sweets for Wasoukan Café (Notting Hill, London) for July. It is a ‘Kimono’ shop with a café counter that the staff serves ‘Matcha’ Green Tea in a Tea Ceremony style and also two types of monthly Japanese sweets. Yes, their sweets are made by me and I have been developing two new Japanese sweets every month for them. The staff told me that they were amazed at the popularity of ‘Mochi’. So I had to decide what kind of Mochi sweet I should deliver to them for this month… I wanted a colour and the flavour which go well with the Mochi texture and considered several possibilities and then an idea came to my mind.

It is a Mochi type of sweet with Purple Sweet Potato Paste. Western people are rather sceptical about the idea of using Sweet Potato as a sweet but in Japan we love to use several root vegetables as sweet and Sweet Potato is one of the most popular ones. It has the natural sweetness and more importantly the flavour goes so well as the Japanese sweet. I saw some BBC program which introduced the reason that many people live a very long healthily life in one area of Japan was due to Purple Sweet Potato. They did not show any scientific evidence to this theory so I am not sure if it is true or not but one thing I can say is we like Purple Sweet Potatoes.

Purple Sweet Potato Mochi

So, here is my Sweet Potato Mochi. It is not just a normal Sweet Potato Mochi but it is a “Purple Sweet Potato Mochi” for this month. 😀

Purple Sweet Potato Mochi

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What a ‘Sake Experience’!

I told you that I love Sake before and I am even certified as a Sake Sommelier too. I’m a bit concerned that if I say so it might sound like I drink a lot of Sake everyday😆. On the contrary I have it only on a very special occasion. In that way I think I can appreciate the special taste more. Anyway, Sake is the Japanese Rice Wine and becoming very popular in the world. It has started being brewed outside of Japan lately and I have recently met British people who have their own ‘Sakagura’ (Sake brewery) in London. It was so unthinkable until very recent that I see Sake made in the UK with my own eyes.

Sake event 2So, this week was one of those special occasions that I had Sake. I went to one of Sakaguras in London, however, this one is not a Sake brewery. It was a Japanese restaurant which has a huge selection of Sake to serve. The occasion was for attending ‘Sake Experience’ event which was organised by Japan Centre. It was designed for Sake lovers to discover new great Sake or for people who don’t know much about Sake but want to try something new. It is also the occasion to suggest people how to match what kind of Food with different kind of Sake.

🍶’Sake Experience’🍶

Sake event 4At each table, people were greeted with a glass of Sake cocktail. It was a Sake & Gin cocktail with Pineapple Juice with a hint of Yuzu (Japanese citrus). It was very smooth and tasty. It was a great start.

Soon after the first Sake was introduced to our glasses and the event commenced. The person explaining all about that evening’s Sake was Atsuhide Kato, the CEO of Kato Kichibee Shoten Brewery in Japan. He brought the best selections from their brand “Born” series.

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‘Strawberries and Cream’ Cup

Oh, it’s nice to have a little rain today. I know it is not as hot or humid as how Japan is at the moment, but it has been very hot here in London. It is also in the height of Wimbledon Season here and the British People’s minds are also heating up in cheering British male No.1 player Andy Murray and the female player Johanna Konta. Both of them just got through to the quarter-final yesterday. Hooray!

Anyway, where there is an event, there is also a famous food or drink, isn’t there? For instance if the event is RHS Flower show, it is a Pimms and if the event is Wimbledon, it is certainly ‘Strawberries and Cream’. It sounds so stylish but it is actually just some fresh strawberries serving with cream on top, but people love to have it in the court side or ‘Henman’s Hill’ whilst cheering for their favourite players.

So, as an homage to this Wimbledon season I wanted to arrange this traditional British dessert into some Japanese sweet, but how …. ?

Strawberries and Cream Cup

This is the outcome of all my thinking about ‘Strawberries and Cream’. It is made of a traditional Japanese Sweet called ‘Nerikiri’ and I shaped it into a very western looking sweet. I placed three small strawberries and some cream in a cup which is also made of Nerikiri pastry and of course you can eat the whole thing including this cup.

Strawberries & Cream1

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Teru Teru ‘Mochi’ Bōzu

It has been quite good weather for a while in London. It sometimes rains during the evening and is sunny in the daytime. This is perfect for the plants. In the meantime the rainy season continues in Japan and although it is not the typical season even Typhoon is approaching now. I have seen so many photos of beautiful Hydrangea from Japan which is in full bloom in bright pink and blue in the rain. Yes, the rain is good for plants, definitely. However, sometimes it rains just too much even for Japanese so that people, particularly children, wish it would stop and become sunny the following day …

TeruTeru editYou might not know but there is such a traditional magic to stop the rain in Japan. It is a charm and you don’t need a magic wand. You don’t need a magical powder. Instead, what you need is a simple mascot! The mascot is called ‘Teru Teru Bōzu’ and you can easily create one by yourself. I assume you are motivated to try making this Japanese traditional Please-Stop-The-Rain-Tomorrow-Mascot. I add “How to make Teru Teru Bōzu” at the end of this post so that you can make one.  🙂

Teru Teru ‘Mochi’ Bōzu

Teru Teru Bōzu is the symbol of this rainy season. Why not have it as a sweet?

Teru to edit cut

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Mochi Hydrangea

It is ‘Tsuyu’ Rainy season again, I mean in Japan. Instead, we are having a heat wave here in London right now. Actually it is the longest heat wave in June for 20 years. But back to talking about the rainy season in Japan. We get an announcement when the rainy season starts in each region, however, it is quite common that it stops raining after the declaration. This year seems to be the example of that year because I just checked today’s weather in Japan and saw ☀ for almost all the area.

Anyway, however the weather is, it is June and it is the begining of the rainy season and the symbol of the season is ‘Ajisai’ Hydrangea flower.

Mochi Hydrangea

Last year I designed a Japanese sweet Hydrandea by getting  inspiration from the flower of June. It was a ‘Nerikiri’ type of sweet. However, because ‘Mochi’ is very popular in London, I have been trying to think how I could make this flower in a Mochi type of sweet. I came up with an idea and here is the result.

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The Wagashi Day

Do you know today, the 16th of June, is “the Wagashi Day”? ‘Wagashi’ means Japanese Sweet in general but how is this day connected with Japanese Sweet and what do people do this day?

The Wagashi Day and Sixteen Sweets

It started in the year of 848 in the Heian period when plague was spreading throughout Japan. With the hope that this disease would stop and everybody would live healthily and happily, the Emperor Ninmyō changed the era to Kashō and prayed to the God with an offering of sixteen Japanese sweets. It was on the 16th of June and the number of the sweet offering was associated with the date. Since then this day became the Wagashi Day and people ate Japanese sweets and wished a happy life. This custom carried on until the Edo period.

Sadly the custom diminished sometime later, but in 1979 Japan Wagashi Association reintroduced the Wagashi Day back into society by wishing that people would continue appreciating the magnificent Japanese sweet and carry on the beautiful food culture for future generations.

Although I have liked eating Japanese Sweet Wagashi since my childhood, it is not that long ago that I started making it myself. Since then I realised that Wagashi is such a versatile sweet which is made from very limited ingredients of just beans, rice powder and sugar basically. By wishing this world becomes a safe and wonderful place to everybody I re-introduce 16 sweets of mine that I made last year 2016.

Enjoy your Wagashi Day!  😀