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. 😋💕
Previously I introduced my Lacecap Hydrangea sweet and this one in another form of my Hydrangea sweet this year. It’s a rather traditional design for this flower as a Japanese sweet, however, I added something unconventional to it!
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.
Some parts of the UK and Europe have been hit by thunder storms over the weekend. Although London was not affected much, it rains on and off. I’ve been experiencing difficulty sleeping through several stuffy nights so I am very pleased its’ cooled off. The showers were also very welcome in my garden because the earth was very dry.
There is one plant that looks great in the rain. It’s Hydrangea. The flower is normally pink or blue and it’s said that the acidic soil makes the flower blue and the more alkaline soil makes it pink. It’s now in the flowering season of the water loving Hydrangea and the rain enhances its beauty. I think the pompom-like common Hydrangea looks pretty, however, the one I like is the Lacecap Hydrangea which has a little more delicate touch.
I have made several Hydrangea sweets before and this time I created the Lacecap Hydrangea.
Last year I entered to a Sake recipe competition for which I had to create two Non-Japanese food recipes, one savoury and the other a dessert. To my surprise I went through to the final that was held in London in January. More surprisingly I won second place among 6 finalists. I have posted about this event and what happened to me on that day.
At the end of that event I was given some vouchers. That was great but that was not the main prize. The prize for the second place was “Two Days Certified Sake Sommelier Course” by the Sake Sommelier Academy. Although there are more and more people interested in Japanese alcohol ‘Sake’, the course runs only 2-3 times a year. So I had to wait to attend the course until the next one would be held in London and that was last week. So finally my waiting was over!
Two Days “Certified Sake Sommelier” Course
Selection of Sake
In the evening of ‘Hinamatsuri‘ (Girls’ Day, the 3rd of March) I attended the Sake Tasting seminar which was organised by Japan Centre. The venue was the popular Ramen restaurant Shoryu near Piccadilly Circus in London. Although it was early evening on Thursday the Ramen shop was packed with Ramen lovers. As soon as we arrived in a private Dining Room downstairs we were welcomed with a glass of chilled sake 🍶. Lovely 💓
Red ‘Oni’ with two horns
In Japan we have several special days in a year. The 3rd of February is one of them, It is a day called ‘Setsubun‘.
What is ‘Setsubun’?
Setsubun is written as ‘節分‘ in Japanese which means ‘divide (分)’ ‘season (節)’. The day actually is one day before the changing of season. It seems like we used to have four Setsubun before each season in the past but since Edo era (a few hundred years ago) we particularly cerebrate only the beginning of Spring. So the 3rd of February became our ‘Setsubun’ and we celebrate the coming of Spring on this day.
Did you know that all the tea is made from the leaves of exactly same tea plant, Camellia sinensis? They might be grown in different countries in different climates, but yes, English Breakfast tea, Japanese Sencha tea, Chinese Oolong tea or Sri Lankan Ceylon tea … any tea is from the same leaves. The difference is just the process of how to make them from leaves into a tea. I found it very fascinating that the same tea leaves can taste so different just by how it is treated.
In Japan we have several types of tea. Unlike Chinese tea most of Japanese tea is steamed and unfermented. That is why it has kept a clean green colour and aroma with lighter flavour. Some of the famous ones are as follow.
🎍 Happy New Year! 🎍
In Japan we celebrate three days for the New Year. Yes, the New Year Days are very big deal for Japanese. It is the biggest National Holiday and everybody should be resting including the person who cooks for the family too. In order to have less cooking time home chef prepares celebratory meal ‘Osechi (お節)’ until New Year’s Eve. It is like a bigger version of Bento box filled with lots of delicious & luxurious food all of which last for 2-3 days so that you just need to add some extra thing such as ‘Sushi’🍣, ‘Sashimi (さしみ)’ or something warm.
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.