Yesterday was the Pancake Day in the UK. It is the day people make pancake in order to consume the ingredients in the fridge such as eggs and milk before Easter starts. So I tried making ‘Dorayaki’ Japanese Pancake and then … in somehow I failed. The pancake part did not come out well. I was hoping that I would be able to post a photo of beautifully baked Dorayaki pancake here but now I don’t have any photo. It could be because I used one of the brand new frying pan? I will take a revenge on making great Dorayaki sometime soon, but in the meantime I am going to show you the photos of my recent ‘Taiyaki’ fish shaped Bake instead.
Taiyaki with Shiratama Mochi Balls
These are the Taiyaki I made a few days ago for my teatime.
When schools break up for summer holiday, it is the signal that lots of local festivals are ready to start all around in Japan. Many stalls appear in a square that sell food or goods to the people visiting. There are some stalls for offering games too and ‘Kingyo-sukui’ is the one of them. ‘Kingyo’ means Goldfish and ‘Sukui’ is a noun form of a verb to-scoop in Japanese. So what does ‘Scooping-Goldfish’ mean?
Children enjoying ‘Kingyo-sukui’
On the Kingyo-sukui stall they bring a pond with many small Goldfish. The customers pay to get a small ladle which is made of paper and can keep scooping goldfish until the paper tears up and it is no longer possible to scoop up any fish. That is the time that game is over! At the end of the game you can take the goldfish home you scooped. I have to say I was very good at Kingyo-sukui when I was a child. I could get about 20 goldfish easily with just a one paper ladle.
So when I see Goldfish it reminds me of the Summer holiday. It is very nostalgic and that is why I chose Goldfish as the design for the sweet for August.
Although the fish is called Goldfish, the main colour of them is Red, bright red so the Goldfish on my sweet is also Red.
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.
So, 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.
At 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.
The main reason I went back to Japan this time was that my family had a Buddhism memorial service called ‘Hohji (法事)’. A Monk visited our home and gave us a prayer service. It lasted about 30 minutes to an hour. It was not that long but you had to be seating on a ‘Tatami (たたみ)’ mat and that was the toughest part of it. We of course sat on a cushion ‘Zabuton (座布団)’ but since I’ve been living in the UK for a while now and not used to seating on my leg … My legs became numb. The monk told us to sit in any position we felt comfortable and followed by telling us that he knew somebody who had broken her/his bone because s/he had tried to stand up and stumbled due to numbed legs. It was a hilarious story that we thought a little too extreme. Anyway we finished our prayers, thanked and said good-bye to the monk. None of us broke our bones luckily.
Before the service we had a special lunch for the day.
Do you know this beautiful shiny fish?
It is ‘Sanma (さんま, 秋刀魚)’ in Japanese. I have learned it’s called ‘Pacific Saury’ in English just recently. I never had a reason to search their name before because I have never seen them in London. Oh, only once actually in Japanese food shop but it was a frozen one.
The fish swim towards Japan in a big shoal in Autumn season with lots of oil on its body for laying eggs. They apparently have a very short life for just two years or something… 😦
Lots of Sanma appear in fishmongers in Autumn. It is one of the Taste of Autumn for Japanese.
So how do we eat them?
Of course there are many ways to cook it. Some are very regional like famous ‘Sanma Sushi’. However, the way I like the most is the simplest one.
What is ‘Autumn’ for you?
Autumn in Japanese is ‘Aki‘ and written as ‘秋‘. The character is made from two parts. The left part shows what it is connected to and in this case ‘禾 (Nogi-hen)’ means the character is something to do with ‘Crop’. The right part is ‘火 (Hi)’ which means ‘Fire’. So by combining two parts together the character means ‘Drying Crop (by Fire)’. Japan has a culture of growing rice plants for many many years and we harvest it in Autumn. Traditionally we dried cut plants by hanging it in the field for weeks before threshing grains so it does make sense that Autumn is the time for ‘Drying Crop’ before a cold winter comes.
In Japan Autumn is described in several ways. We say Autumn is for Harvesting. Autumn is for Reading Books, Autumn is for Arts & Excercise. However, the most important thing about Autumn and we should never ever forget is that Autumn is for ‘Taste’ and ‘Appetite’.
The Taste of Autumn – ’Matsutake’ mushroom and ‘Kuri’ chestnuts