Introduction: How to Make Wagashi
Wagashi is a widely celebrated confectionery often served along side tea in Japan and Japanese culture. In ancient Japan, people ate fruit and nuts to satisfy their cravings for sweets and add nutritional value to grains like rice and millet. What’s also interesting about wagashi is the part it plays in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The focus of the ceremony isn’t really about making tea, but about the aesthetically-pleasing manner in which the Teishu (tea host) prepares it. Moreover, it’s important to make guests feel welcome in accordance with the season. Wagashi not only adds sweetness to the palate to combat the bitterness of the green tea, but is also made to reflect the season, i.e. maple leaf shapes for fall and plum flower designs for spring. In essence, it’s not just a dessert, but an art. (epicureandculture.com)
· Glutinous Rice Flour 30 grams
· Multi-colored food dye
· Navy beans 950 grams (Can substitute with Lima Beans)
· White sugar 300 grams of shiro-an 15 grams for nerikiri
· Water (enough to cover beans)
1/2 cup for the nerikiri
6 Tablespoons for the
· Two mesh sieves
· Kitchen scale
· Food processor
· Pot and Sauce Pan
· Cloth (cheesecloth is preferable.)
· Utensils for shaping and designing wagashi.
· Bowls of different color dyed bean pastes
Estimated time total: 4-6 hours, around 8 hours for beginners. 12 Hours total for pre-soaking prep.
Step 1: Preping the Shiro-an Part of Wagashi
Soak beans for approximately 12 hours. (Preferably directly right before beginning to prepare wagashi for best results)
Step 2: Let the Beans Simmer.
Put the presoaked beans in a large pot on stove with enough water to slightly cover the beans, to let simmer for 2 hours or until soft enough to easily crush between your finger.
Step 3: Drain and Begin to Blend Beans.
Drain beans completely and blend through a food processor until the beans become consistently mashed.
Step 4: Filter the Mashed Beans
Take the mashed beans and begin to press through a large sieve, then a fine sieve over a bowl until a finer and smoother paste begins to build up and collect in the bowl.
This is to filter out the skins and large pieces from the mashed beans.
Step 5: Discard the Excess Skins and Large Chunks
Collect all the paste and throw away the excess large pieces and skins that did not filter through.
Step 6: Squeeze Out Excess Water
Wrap the filtered paste in a cheese cloth and remove excess water by squeezing through the cloth.
Step 7: Weight Out the Paste
After this is done, weigh out the paste on a kitchen scale.
Step 8: Measure Half the Weight in Sugar
Divide this weight and then weigh out an amount in sugar exactly half the weight of the paste and set aside for the 2nd part of the wagashi.
Step 9: Begin the Nerikiri Part
In a large saucepan, add the weighed-out sugar and 3 tablespoons of water and begin to mix.
Step 10: Add Half of the Bean Paste
Take about half of the bean paste and add to the sugar and water mixture. Begin to heat mixture over medium heat until it completely combines.
Step 11: Add the Rest of the Bean Paste
After half of the bean paste has combines with the sugar and water, start to add the rest of the bean paste to the mixture.
Step 12: Continue to Heat to Drive Out More Moisture
Continue to heat the mixture on low to drive out a majority of the moisture from the mix until it becomes a smooth mold-able paste.
Step 13: Begin to Add and Mix in Rice Flour, Sugar and Water.
Once this is done, mix 3 more tablespoons of water, 15 grams of sugar, and rice flour together. Then add the water-flour-sugar mixture with shiro-an until it becomes a tacky dough.
Step 14: Set Aside to Cool
Set aside in a pan and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Step 15: Begin to Separate and Dye the Wagashi!
Separate the wagashi in prefered amounts and add food color dyes to the different amounts to create an array of colors to create with.
Step 16: Final Step!
Once the dye is completely mixed through, you may shape, mold and create to your desire!
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