The transition period from the end of a year to New Year in Japan is interesting. Traditionally we close a year by listening ‘Joya-no-kane’, 108 gongs of a huge bell at a Buddhism temple. In the Buddhism world it is believed that each person has 108 evil passions so each time hitting the bell it is removing our passion from us before starting the new year.
However, when we celebrate the New Year in a totally Shinto style. Of course we are all sin-less thanks to the Joya-no-kane on the previous night so it is a happy celebratory morning. When I was a child my family used to have a morning bath and changed into brand new underwear. When we sat at the table the first thing to do is haveing a little alcoholic beverage called ‘O-toso’ in a flat goblet and hope that all family would be well and healthy all through the year. We moved onto the breakfast having ‘O-sechi’ (special New Year meal prepared previously) and ‘O-zoni’ (Mochi in broth).
There are so many other customs we do only in New Year but one of them is placing ‘Kagami-Mochi’ in certain places. It is basically a set of two round mochi ( which are pounded glutinous savoury rice and not the dessert mochi sweets with ice cream inside) with a citrus fruit ‘Dai-dai’ on top. Normally it also gets decorated with some green leaves and white paper cut into Shinto style, but how you decorate it depends on the family.
All the things I wrote above are the customs in Japan. I’ve been living in the UK for a long time and haven’t done much traditional custom in the past, however, I felt I wanted to do some for this year so I made Kagami-mochi.
How was the weather where you are yesterday? It was the day the full-moon should be seen last night that people in Japan celebrate and enjoy viewing the beauty of it. By hoping to see the beautiful full moon we traditionally eat round (moon-shaped) Mochi. However, the shape of the Mochi varies depending on the area.
I was hoping to see the beautiful full moon and made two types of Tsukimi Dango. ‘Tsuki’ means moon and ‘Mi (Miru)’ means to view in Japanese.
Yesterday, the 22nd of September, was the Autumnal Equinox Day this year. One week period around that day is called ‘Higan’ in Japan and people cleanse ourselves spiritually by doing right things and cleaning ancestors’ graves.
On the culinary side of this tradition during the week we have sweets called ‘Ohagi’. It is a mochi type sweet with half pounded sweet rice with ‘Azuki’ sweet red bean paste. Some of them are flavoured and decorated with ‘Kinako’ toasted soyabean powder, green seaweed or black sesame seeds.
I love Ohagi and can eat 2-3 pieces of them easily all one go! It is normally quite big and filling, and for the people who’d like to try all the flavours for a teatime it might be a little hard. So I made a version of all three types of sweets on one skewer! In this way everyone can taste all the flavours. 🍡
Do you know Mochi? Have you eaten any before? Mochi is one of the recent phenomena in the Japanese food industry that became very popular in the world all of a sudden as a surprise. It’s a soft gooey rice cake that was made by pounding glutinous rice. It can be either sweet or savoury and also hot or cold.
The best know Mochi in the western countries is the one with ice cream inside and the other type is with a fresh Strawberry and sweet bean paste wrapped up inside the Mochi sheet. This Strawberry ‘Daifuku’ Mochi is one of my favourites, however, it is not just strawberry that the Mochi goes so well with. You can have all sorts of juicy fresh fruit in a Mochi.
Here is my creation of Raspberry Mochi to show you that. I selected juicy but firm raspberries and filled them with smooth raspberry sauce. I wrapped them up carefully with a sheet of sweet and soft Mochi.
This Raspberry Mochi is one of my regular products when I have a market stall that I know people love. I was planning to have a stall in a big Japanese culture market in June and it was sadly cancelled unfortunately of course because of the pandemic.
However, a great news for the people who live in London is that you can get two of my Wagashi Japanese sweets at the moment. This Raspberry Mochi is one of them and I received great feedback already from the customers. They are served at the Havan Store (262 Kensington High St, London W8 6ND). You are not allowed to walk into the shop yet but you can get a takeaway.
The Havan is located right next to Holland Park so how about getting some sweets and their gorgeous Matcha tea as a takeaway and have a lovely teatime in the park. 😋💕
During the Elderflower season in May I made two things to preserve the loveliness of the flowers. One of them is the famous Elderflower Cordial and the other one is Elderflower Champagne. Both are made in a similar way by keeping fresh flowers in a sugary water with lemon and lime to extract the flavour and the scent of flowers into the liquid. You can make a refreshing summer drink by adding water to a little amount of the cordial.
However, I wanted to have it not just as a drink, I wanted to taste it as a Japanese sweet. I wonder what type of sweet is the most suitable for using Elderflower flavour and then thought it should be definitely soft Mochi.
As the Mochi sweet with Elderflower flavour, the look has to be very simple and the colour scheme has to be white.
Is there such a thing as too early for watermelon🍉? Not in my book! 😅
This is a Mochi type sweet in the shape and flavour of watermelon. I know watermelon is the king of summer fruit but we are still in the new normal life-style and I couldn’t wait to post this sweet until summer comes.
It’s Vegan and Gluten free.
It’s very windy today in London.
Have a lovely weekend!🍉🍉
It was ‘Midori no Hi’ the Greenery Day in Japan on the 4th of May. It’s a national holiday that people should get close to and appreciate nature. Of course we cannot go outside as much as we’d like in the current situation so I am posting a very green sweet as a reminder how wonderful nature is.
This is a ‘Mochi’ sweet with ‘Matcha’ green tea flavoured filling inside and dusted with more Matcha powder.
Today the third of March is Hanamatsuri – Girls’ Day in Japan (Don’t worry, there is Boys’ day too). I have mentioned about this day in the past so if you are interested please read the articles in 2017 and 2018.
There are several traditional food/sweets we eat on this special day and Hishimochi is one of them. It is a diamond shaped sweet made with three coloured Mochi (in pink, white and green) place on top each other. In 2017 I made this Hishimochi sweet with steamed Japanese sweet instead using Mochi.
This year I made this Hina Mochi instead that is a Mochi type sweet I got inspired by Hishimochi. It is a round Mochi in the traditional Hishimochi tri-colours.
💕Happy Valentine’s Day!💕
What is significant for this day where your are? Valentine’s Day is the western idea to show how much you love your wife, husband, girlfriend and boyfriend. This was not a custom in Japan until the 1970’s when one chocolate company advertised that “it is the day a girl can tell her love to a boy by sending chocolates as the gift”. Since then the chocolate industry has been go crazy before Valentine’s day every year.
Chocolate Heart Mochi with Red Currant Jam
I made this Chocolate flavoured Mochi for Valentine’s Day this year.
It is a heart-shaped Japanese sweet with chocolate flavoured Mochi outer layer and sweet white bean paste and homemade red currant jam inside. For this special occasion it has the golden love potion powder sprinkled on top.
The Great thing is that you can taste this sweet at the Matcha Bar at the Havan Store (262 Kensington High Street, London). They will serve this sweet during February.
It’s Vegan and Gluten free.
Maybe love is like a Chocolate Mochi! 💕Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!!💕
It is a little early for expecting ‘Sakura’ cherry blossom but you can see pretty ‘Ume’ Plum flowers in Japan. The flower looks quite similar to cherry blossom but much tinier and with a intoxicating sweet scent. The petal comes from white to dark pink and quite often you can find flowers in different colours on the same tree.
‘Ume’ Plum Flower Mochi
So I made Plum Flower Mochi as one of my January sweets.
It’s got a soft gooey Mochi type sweet as the outer layer that is made into a shape of a plum flower. The sweet white bean paste filling is placed inside as well as homemade plum jam.
This sweet is Vegan and Gluten free.
This sweet was served at a Matcha Bar at the Havan Store during January (sorry to post this information too late) and I am very pleased to hear that it has received a great feedback. I am preparing different sweets for February now so please stay tuned!