Dec 14, 2010

Ingredients

Here is a short list of some of the many ingredients that go into Wagashi.

Red Bean Paste - An(餡)
 

Here are some common types of red bean pastes

Nama- An(生餡) is boiled red beans (azuki beans) that have been strained. There is no sugar added.

Koshi-An(漉し餡) is Nama-An mixed with sugar. It is smooth texture and is often used for Wagashi.

Sarasshi-An(さらし餡) is Nama-An that has been dried and made into a powder. When you use this, you must add water and sugar to make Koshi-An.

Tsubu-An(粒餡) is that small beans is stewed softly without breaking their skins.

Ogura-An  are small, whole beans that have been cooked and then soaked in honey.  The beans are often added to Tsubu-An.



Kanbaiko(寒梅粉)

Kanbaiko is a powder which is made from rice cakes (mochi). You bake the rice cakes without browning them and then grind them into a powder.  That powder is Kanbaiko.


Nerikiri(練り切り)

Nerikiri is a raw sweet that is a mixture of white bean paste and steamed rice flour.
It is soft and a little sticky. You can form Nerikiri into various shapes with special wooden tools or spatulas. When Wagashi craftsmen color Nerikiri, they use food coloring, but traditionally an extract from flowers such as the Cape Jasmine was used.

Nerikiri can be made make into various colors and forms to match the kind of Wagashi that is being made for a particular season.  For example, the flowers below were made from Nerikiri.





Gyuuhi(ぎゅうひ

Gyuuhi is a kind of rice cake (mochi) that is very soft.
Generally, when we make normal rice cakes, we pound steamed rice. However, when we make Gyuuhi, we knead rice flour with water and sugar while heating it in a pot.  The soft inside of the most popular Wagashi in Matsue, Wakakusa, is Gyuuhi.

Wasanbon(和三盆) 

Wasanbon is a traditional Japanese refined sugar. It is made in Kagawa prefecture in Japan and it has a peculiar, characteristic flavor that reminds you of brown sugar.  It is ground to a powder so it dissolves quickly in your mouth.  Wasanbon is made by hand, so it is a very expensive sugar. 

Mochi(餅-rice cake) 

Mochi is usually sold in block slices or dumpling sized circles. At room temperature it's hard but it gets soft when you cook it. 

It is a kind of food made from boiled glutenous rice that has been pounded together.
Rice is a very important food in Japan. Therefore, rice cakes were used in special events and holidays; for example, New Year's Day.  Still today, many Japanese people eat rice cakes during the New Year holiday.


Mochi is easy to make, versatile and when dried will keep for many days.
Rice cakes are not only eaten in sweets, they are often seasoned with soy sauce or soybean flour.  Other varieties include rice cakes with sesame, whole green soybeans or a type of grass called "Yomogi" which is mixed into the mochi.
 

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