There is one annual event that I join as Sakura Junction at this time of a year. It is a Japanese Christmas Market that gets held in North London. This is the only occasion that I sell my Japanese sweets to public and I enjoy chatting and seeing the reaction from people. Last year the day we had the market London woke up in a blanket of snow which continued to fall till the evening. This caused so much difficulty for people driving or parking their car and the public bus services were also all cancelled. So it was disastrous for us that people couldn’t come to the venue even though they wanted to. This meant a very limited number of visitors.
The market is a craft fair so a lot of stall holders sell their own creations which are somethings Japanese related. They will be a great Christmas gift for your friends and families. However, it seems like that the things the visitors are after the most is food, Japanese food! We have several stalls that serve hot meals and sweets so you can have lunch first and look around to find beautiful things, and then enjoy teatime with Japanese sweet in one location.
I went Blackberry picking the other day. I was not sure if the fruits would still be there, but there were some. So I got Blackberries and some Watermelon in my refrigerator and I wondered what I could make with them… It has to be some kind of summery dessert which could be prepared quickly. In this heat I don’t have much patience to get a result and then I found a perfect solution!
Watermelon & Blackberry with Shiratama Mochi Balls
What I had to do was just making ‘Shiratama’ Mochi balls and some syrup. The rest of the task was combining all the ingredients together in a chilled glass bowl. Easy!
After a few cool days the summer is back in London. ☀️☀️☀️💦 I wonder what makes people feel we are in summer. For me one of those things is Watermelons. When I see Watermelons laid down in front of groceries shops, I feel the season has arrived. Watermelons are one of the popular summer fruits in Japan and I have many childhood memories of it. Two years ago I made a Japanese sweet in Watermelon shape. It was made with the Japanese sweet ‘Nerikiri’.
This summer I made a Japanese sweet in a Watermelon shape again, however, this time I wanted to make it slight differently from the last one. I chose ‘Mochi’ as the material and that is because I see many Nerikiri Watermelons on Social Media but none in Mochi type so far. You see I like a challenge!
So my Mochi type Watermelons were born.
It is Mother’s Day in Japan (and the U.S).
Have a Happy Mother’s Day!!
This Sunday, the 13th of May, is Mother’s Day in Japan and the U.S. In the U.K it was the 11th of March this year and will be the 31st of March next year. Although it is not the fixed day in Britain, Mother’s Day in Japan is always the second Sunday of May of each year. So it will be this Sunday for the year 2018.
I guess what we do on the day is universally quite the same. We appreciate our mothers for her hard work, care and love to us. We send a card and a gift to show our appreciation. The gift can be quite often flowers. I heard that this custom originally started in the U.S as the memorial day of a woman who was a peace activist and cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. On her funeral her daughter gave a white carnation to all the attendants of the ceremony. So the carnations became the symbol and the flower to give on this special day for mothers.
For cereblation the Mother’s Day in Japan I created a Japanese sweet in a red Carnation design.
The 5th of May is a National Holiday in Japan that is called the ‘Kodomo-no-Hi’, the Children’s Day. We celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of children, particularly boys (because there is the Girl’s Day on the 3rd of March). There are several things we do traditionally for that day. As the National Holiday in Japan we of course have special food related to this day. One of them is ‘Chimaki’ which is a steamed Mochi sweet wrapped in bamboo leaves and the other one is ‘Kashiwa Mochi’ that is also a Mochi sweet wrapped in an oak (Kashiwa) leaves.
There are also things we do for the day but not food related. We decorate our houses with a model of ‘Kabuto’ Samurai helmet by hoping the boy becomes big and strong. Last year I created a Kabuto sweet by being inspired by its shape. And the most significant thing we do traditionally for this Children’s day is placing a huge Koi Carp shaped banner called ‘Koinobori’ outside of the house. It is made of light cloth and when wind comes in from the carp’s moth and goes through its body, it flows up in the air and looks like it’s swimming above the roof.
‘Koinobori’ Koi Carp
I have actually made this Koinobori sweet two years ago. It went quite successfully so I made it again this year.
However, there is a small difference between this year’s Koinobiri and my previous creation.
For us Japanese Spring time is all about ‘Sakura’ Cherry Blossom. You might think all the Cherry blossoms are the same, however, there are many different types. The species with single petal flower start blossoming first and then other types with multi petals follow to open flowers. So that, although the best viewing time is quite short for each tree, we can enjoy viewing Sakura Cherry blossom for quite a long time betwee mid – late March and throughout April in Japan.
These days it is getting quite well known that Japanese have a picnic party eating and drinking under a full blooming Cherry tree. It is called ‘O’Hanami’. It literally means ‘the viewing of Sakura blossoms’ and it tells how much we love seeing Sakura. I tried to think a perfect Japanese sweets for this O’Hanami occasion which is something delicious in the Cherry blossom theme and also easy to pick and eat outdoors.
The sweet I created for the O’Hamani occasion is ‘Ukishima’. It looks quite like a western cake but is actually a very Japanese sweet with a soft, light texture. When I tasted this sweet the first time, I fell in love with it! The best thing about it is it’s so moist.
I made Yomogi Mochi for April. I don’t know why I feel like having Yomogi Mochi especially in spring but I made Yomogi Mochi and posted about it last year too. Maybe because ‘Yomogi’ is wild leaves you can find in a field and we are in the season now that lots of plants are just coming out after being under a cold weather. My Yomogi Mochi this year looks quite similar to the last years. So what is the difference?
Yomogi Mochi, 2018
The outer layer is a ‘Mochi’ type of Japanese sweet with Yomogi leaves mixed in. It has a slightly bitter leafy taste but with sweetness and a bouncy and gooey Texture. As the centre I used ‘Tsubu-An’ Sweet Azuki Beans paste without skin removed during the process. Yomogi and Tsubu-An are just a great combination and I could not think of using any other bean paste for Yomogi flavour.
A few days ago I received a private order for my Japanese sweets. The client wanted me to deliver 15 Wagashi sweets to her. Apart from the specific request that she would like to have 4 Daffodils and the rest should be ‘Mochi’ type sweets I was given the honour to select the suitable sweets that would be favoured by western people. So the sweets I picked and packed were like this.
Spring Gift Set
Comparing to the snowy weather three weeks ago it is so much more like spring now. It is not just because the temperature is higher but because the sunlight is brighter and the air is lighter. Although the forecast says there is a possibility that this weekend might become cold again, the season always moves forward by going back and forth a little. It means we are definitely getting closer to spring!
It means we are in Early Spring now. I quite often design sweets depending on which season we are in. I pick some significant signs of the season such as colour, flower or mood of the season. So what is early spring like for me? It is the season some leaves start to come out (Green) on a tree and field, but in some area it is still covered with snow (white). It is a little too early to see a view of full Sakura cherry blossom in the most places, however, but in some warmer area some trees probably starts blossoming (Pink). The smell of early spring is a grassy green smell. So what I have to do after running my imagination is put all these images together.
Matcha Swirl Mochi
I needed to assemble all the elements of green, white and pink together. I was imagining a mountain in early spring. For autumn season I made Autumn Mountain Mochi and reached up to this swirling sweet of early spring version of the mountain.