Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wagashi-Japanese Sweets おいしい!^^

 I'm a Japanese food lover especially the Japenese Sweet which call Wagashi
Wagashi (和菓子) is a traditional Japanese confectionery which is often served with tea, especially the types made mochi azuki bean paste(red bean paste), and fruits.Wagashi is typically made from natural (mainly plant) ingredients. The names used for wagashi commonly fit a formula—a natural beauty and a word from ancient literature.Japanese sweets has over twelve-hundred history, it originated from the Chinese elixir of life.
In Edo period, it had incorporated the technique of the western sweets. After over hundreds years' harmonizing of both sweets, Japanese sweets had established as one of the Japanese own cultures. 
Japanese sweets is full of seasonal taste and consisted of aesthetic sense and colors of four seasons, such as a pink colored rice cake rolled with cherry leaf in spring, as a sweet jellied bean paste in summer. Most of names of Japanese sweets are based with the beauties and scenes of the nature, traditional Japanese poetries, literature, local history, name of the place and etc.
And also, Japanese sweets is very important fact on various cultural events of Japanese people's life, such from a birth to entry to school to marriage to funeral. 
Wagashi are classified according to the production method and moisture content. Moisture content is very important since it affects the best-before date.
  • Namagashi
  •  (生菓子) (wet confectionery)—contains 30% or more moisture.
  • Jō namagashi
  •  (上生菓子), very soft and delicate seasonally varying namagashi, in various, often elaborate, shapes and colors, often reflecting seasonal plants. Some stores will have many dozens over the course of a year.
  • Mochi
  • mono (もち物)
  • Mushi
  • mono (蒸し物)
  • Yaki
  • mono (焼き物)
  • Hiranabe
  • mono (平なべ物)
  • Ōbun
  • mono (オーブン物)
  • Nagashi
  • mono (流し物)
  • Neri
  • mono (練り物)
  • Age mono
  •  (揚げ物)
  • Han namagashi
  •  (半生菓子) (half-wet confectionery)—contains 10%–30% moisture.
  • An mono
  •  (あん物)
  • Oka
  • mono (おか物)
  • Yaki
  • mono (焼き物)
  • Hiranabe
  • mono (平なべ物)
  • Ōbun
  • mono (オーブン物)
  • Nagashi
  • mono (流し物)
  • Neri
  • mono (練り物)
  • Higashi
  • (干菓子) (dry confectionery)—contains 10% or less moisture.
  • Uchi
  • mono (打ち物)
  • Oshi
  • mono (押し物)
  • Kake
  • mono (掛け物)
  • Yaki
  • mono (焼き物)
  • Ame mono
  •  (あめ物)

After a trip to Japan last year in 2010, I totally fall in love with Wagashi.  It is the ultimate intersection with food and art which I respect very much! ^ ^ 
It is an invitation to indulge all five sense:-




Japanese cuisine- 日本料理 has it unique inner philosophy. The food look simple, but it does not simply just food. From ingredients to technique, the Japanese always demanding for perfection.Japanese cuisine is simple but difficult. Because the steps are simple, therefore, every details must have a certain quality and standard, that any short cuts is not allowed. Just like the calligraphy, simple but not easy! (简单,不简单) The Japanese will always hold  with their philosophy of ' I'm with my sincere heart to make the best food for you!' and very importantly, they take care of the food hygiene as well. This is actually part of the philosophy too. (GKP -good kitchen practice, 厨德 )

They are so lovely and is very hard to eat them! ^ ^
          My Wagashi learning experiences:-
My first experience of doing wagashi is with Ikuko san (郁子), she taught me how to make dango丸子. It really look simple initially. With very simple ingredients(only 2 ingredients for foaming the dango, and 3 ingredient for the seasoning) and steps, you can make dango.  
So, when I try to make it on my own at home, I fail for more then 5 times and started to think whether I had brought the wrong ingredient?? The dango that I made couldn't float in the boiling water, it was so sticky and taste like uncooked. 
Hoho! And then comes one day, I was struggling because couldn't sleep for the whole night, even though I have tried many ways. Then, I told myself 'why not go and do dango?' ^ ^ Eventually, I had made it after a few tries!! とても 嬉しかった!(^ ^)v  It actually taste like our Chinese traditional food Tang Yuan, 汤圆.  
これは いちご大福.(ichigo daifuku) This was the second experience of learning to make wagashiMy sensei is Hiromi san (宏実),she have been teaching wagashi in Japan for many years and yet she is still doing it after she moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!   ^ ^  
I got to know her from my Mandarin class. She made lots of wonderful Japanese sweets and she have her website at (in Japanese) 
Daifuku mean happiness. Again, very less ingredients needed, but I had tried many times, it doesn't really work out. =_= Taste, appearance, texture... ぜんぜん だめ.  
A dull edge utensil use for tasting wagashi. Beautiful!
My last try was on last Sunday, had shown little progress of improvement. ^ ^ Finally, able to share some with friends. 

I really wish that the person who ate them, felt the happiness. This was my wish when made this Daifuku. For me, food represent the heart of a person who made it. Therefore, I always believe that, if I put in the spirit of love, then, the person who ate them can get the love and felt lucky for the whole day. ^ ^ 

Butter and milk is rarely used in the wagashi cooking, therefore, it is suitable for everybody. It can also be pretty sweet which goes well with strong green tea. 
When I learn to make daifuku with Hiromi san, I have got a chance to see the tea ceremony. These are all the utensils(chawan-tea bowl, natsume-green tea powder container, chasen-the bamboo tea-whisk, chashaku-green tea macha scoop,etc) that needed during the tea ceremony. Amazing! seeing her making the macha green tea. 
She took the Chasen in the right hand and hold the Chawan with the left hand to make sure it doesn’t tumble over when whisking. Whisk the Oyu and Macha to froth with about half of the Chawan covered with foam.  When the green-tea froth is well mixed, finish by drawing a の (No) shape in the Chawan so that the foam floats in the center.  

WAU! ^ ^ とても おいしかった。。。 

1 comment:

  1. A work of Art. Yes it is a shame to eat them....but I know I would. Thank you for sharing