Have you heard about ‘Sho Chiku Bai‘? You might think “Yes, it’s a ‘Sake’, isn’t it?“. That is correct, but there is an origin that the company named their sake with that name. ‘Sho-Chiku-Bai‘ means ‘Pine Tree – Bamboo – Plum Blossom’ in Japanese in this order. They are the three objects Japanese think very auspicious so that we use an image of these three a lot for happy occasion such as a wedding and during New Year period.
I wanted to make some kind of sweet based on ‘Sho-Chiku-Bai’ and came up to this idea.
Sho – Chiku – Bai
It is made of a type of Japanese Sweet called ‘Nerikiri‘ and not marzipan which you might think it looks like.
The main ingredients are Beans, Sugar and Rice Flour. It is very simple but through a lot of complicated process.
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What kind of traditional Food do you have during the Christmas season? In England people have Roast Turkey with Gravy for their meal and then Mince Pie or Christmas Pudding for dessert or Tea.
I wanted to make some Japanese Sweet with a Christmas theme so after thinking for a few days decided to make this fusion sweet.
It might look like just a normal Christmas Pudding which is a wheat cake with lots of dried fruits and steamed in a quite big bowl. My version is much much smaller, just about 5cm in diameter. It is actually a very traditional Japanese sweet ‘Nerikiri‘ that is made from sweet Bean paste, rice flour and sugar. The white part is also made from sweet White Bean Paste and not icing sugar.
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I’m in the middle of the report about the visit in Japan. However, I created this sweet from being inspired by Sakura/Cherry blossom in Japan in Spring time and cannot resist introducing them here any longer.
Yes, these are the sweets I have used for the banner of this website. It is a type of Japanese sweet called ‘Nerikiri’. Its ingredients are white bean, sugar and rice flour. That’s all! So they are free from gluten, egg, dairy and even oil/fat. Very simple but it need a bit of practice to shape each one of them by hand into Cherry blossom or petals.
The Rice Flour used for this is ‘Shiratamako’ which is made from glutinous rice ‘Mochi-Gome’. Although it is called ‘Glutinous’ this stickiness of rice is coming from the molecules of ‘Amylopectin’ and not from Gluten. The difference is that Gluten is Protein found in wheat and Amylopectin is a huge starch compound made of many sugar like molecules connected to each other so that it is Carbohydrate. They are completely different substances. By adding a small amount of sticky rice to ‘Shiro-An (White Bean paste)’ the texture becomes stretchy and bendy just like plasticine. When I add a little bit of natural food colouring it becomes more like a real cherry flower?
When I have a market stall people often think these ‘Nerikiri” sweets are marzipan, but “NO” they are nothing like marzipan. You can shape each individual sweet by hand as you like so that it has to be skillfull to make ‘Nerikiri’ and the process is very time consuming. Among all Japanese sweets they are rather posh ones, I must say. They are often used for traditional Tea Ceremony because of its sophisticated delicate finish.
Although it is simple enough to make ‘Nerikiri’, in order to understand this sweet I have to start from explaining how to make ‘Shiro-An (White Bean Paste)’ first. It means I have to wait to post this recipe until I mention ‘Shiro-An’ making. Sorry for keeping you waiting. 💓