Onigiri with elaborate ingredients at a specialized store.

Onigiri, rice ball is a traditional homely food in Japan, but lately it is sold at convenience stores (konbini コンビニ) and the food market in a department store basement(depachika デパ地下) . I was very surprised to see it come outo the market at first in my childhood, but now I sometimes buy it on a busy morning and when I get the munchies.

Traditionally, an onigiri is filled with common ingredients, for example pickled ume (umeboshi 梅干し), salted salmon (sake 鮭) cod's roe (tarako 鱈子) and small pieces of sliced dried bonito (okaka おかか) and such common onigiri can be easy to get at convenience stores. But stores specialized in Onigiri stock ones filled with various elaborately cooked ingredients.

Today I bought a Onigiri filled with soft-boiled egg with a taste, with Shrimp Tempura and wrapped with sliced pork at the food market in a department store basement in Shinjuku. They are so troublesome to cook with many processes that I hardly do them at home and simply buy them.


How to cook Tsubu-an

 Last weekend was my day off and baked Taiyaki, Japanese fish-shaped cake filled with sweetened red bean paste with my daighter, as she had her left little toe's bone broken and could go nowhere.

This is an iron plate for Taiyaki attached to Vitantonio Belgian Waffler. I bought it machine with 5 kinds of iron plate and  now am looking forward to using them one by one.

This is Yude-Azuki, boiled red bean with sugar and sugar syrop. It is difined as Tsubu-an because it was not strained and remains a chunky texture with whole beans. On the contrary, Koshi-an is a smooth strained paste. Generally it is said that Tsubu-an is rustic and Koshi-an is elegant with soft and pleasant touch on the tongue. Tsubu-an is very easy to cook, but Koshi-an is so difficult that it belongs to the professional territory. So I sometimes cook Tshubu-an, but as for Koshi-an only buy it at a Japanese confectionery.





How to cook Tsubu-an

200 red beans
250 sugar
5g salt
  • Wash the beans and soak it in 1500ml cold water for 24 hours.
  • Bring them to a boil for 20 minutes and drain the beans.
  • Put them and 1000ml cold water into the pot again. Then boil them at high heat until the skin of some beans is burst .
  • Turn down the heat and boil them for about 1 hour to burst the skin of all beans.
  • Taste several beans to check that they are cooked well to the core.
  • Pour cold water into the pot from a tap gently and little by little to make the water entirely clear.
  • Drain and put them into the pot to coat with sugar and salt.
  • Cook them at megium heat stiring constantly with a wooden spatula not to burn them until the moisture comes to be lost. Please only stir them, not knead them.

They are just finished.
The cake hot from the machine is best! They made my family smile sweetly.

I will introduce how to cook Koshi-an soon.


An exotic lunch at my baking class

I had a yeallow Tajine by Emile Henry, but it was broken last week while cooked Moroccan chicken with preserved Lemons and olives. I rushed to remove all of the dish to a silicon pot available in a microwave oven as I found a little soup sheeping out the crack.

The dish was for the lunch at my baking class. I like Maghrebian and Middle Eastern food very much, but it was the first time to serve it as the lunch at my class. Some of students had never experienced it before, but looked they loved it very much.

This is Hummus, mushed chickpea with garlic, cumin, sesame paste, lemon juice and olive oil. I love Hummus so much that whenever I visited Paris, I eat Falafel and Hummus at a Jewish restaurant in Le Marais.


"Ichigo Daifuku" Rice Cake with Strawberry

Daifuku 大福 is a representative Japanese confection consisting of a small round mochi (glutinous rice cake) stuffed with red bean paste.

There are some variations. Mame Daifuku 豆大福 is consisting of red marrowfat peas mixed into mochi and Yomogi Daifuku 蓬大福 is consisting of mochi  flavored with mugwort.


This is Anzu Daifuku consisting of semi dried apricot mixed into mochi.  The flavor of apricot matches with sweet red bean paste, though you can't believe it.

Ichigo Daifku いちご大福 is a variation containing strawberry and sweetened white kidney bean paste inside a small round mochi. It tells you that spring has come.

By the way, Ichigo means strawberry in Japanese.


小鯛焼き Kotaiyaki

It is well known that fish-shaped chocolates are sold  around Poisson d'Avril in France. On the other hand, we can always get fish-shaped sweets in Japan.

The most reprensentative one is 鯛焼き Taiyaki consisting of batter made from flour, sugar, egg and milk like pancake and sweetened red bean paste. People mainly get it at a shop equipped with a specialized iron plate, but it is possible to get a small plate for home use.

The sweets on pic is also fish-shaped, but rather refined , however Taiyaki is a folksy and nostaligic food. This is 小鯛焼き Kotaiyaki which means a small Taiyaki and sold at 桃林堂 Tourindou in Aoyama, Tokyo. The shop doubles as a gallery for Japanese pottery. There are some other good shops specialized in it around Aoyama. If you are interested in it, you would better visit there.

桃林堂 Tourindou (only Japanese)


White raddish salad with Umeboshi dressing

Ohama beach, Hayama
The imperial villa on the right side
Now in the middle of consecutive holidays called "Golden Week". Hayama, my town are crowded with people by car from neighbor cities and prefectures to drive along the coast and eat out at a restaurant with the ocean view. I am proud of my village, at the same time dissatisfied with the traffic jam during the period which prevent my daily life.

I prepared Daikon salad. Can you get Daikon easily? Daikon can be described as a white raddish and a staple vegetable in Japan. It is used as raw pickled, dried or cooked to eat. I often make a salad with its root raw and stir-fry its leaves with meat and fried tofu.

Umeboshi dressing is best for the salad. Umeboshi are pickled Japanese apricot and typical stuffing for rice balls inside. Furthermore we simmer sardines with it to remove the distinctive smell and to make their bones tender with its acid.  

Umeboshi is our traditional food and symbolises the taste of each famiy. But the more people easily get Umeboshi at supermarket, the less pickle them unfortunately. My aunt pickles them every year for herself and me. Her Umeboshi are very salty, but they remind me of my grandmother as they come to resemble grandma's one in flavour. By the way, Umeboshi on the pic were pickled 10 years ago.

I often use organic Umeboshi paste which are easy to use but healthy. Umeboshi dressing is to be mixed 15ml Umeboshi paste with 100ml rice vinegar and 30ml olive oil. Don't forget Sprinkle the teared nori on top !


日本酒風呂 Japanese Sake bath

Today's topic is related to Japanese food, but it does not mean that I show something to eat and drink.

Why not try Sake bath when you get Japanese Sake cheap? You can enjoy it filling bathtub with 14 liters of  hot water at around 38 degrees Celcius and 1 liter of Japanese Sake. It improves the circulation and the perspiration, and keeps your body warm after a bath.Furthermore it makes your skin smooth. I soak myself in the bath every night and do it only once a week. So always look for the cheaper Sake at supermarket!


My lesson in confectionety

I gave a lesson in confectionery yesterday, at which I instructed how to make pâte brisée and bake "tarte aux poires" and "tarte aux 3 fromages" with the pastry.

The tarte on the pic is a variation of " tarte aux 3 fromages" that topped with Griottes de Lorraine au Kirsch, Lorraine cherries preserved with cherry brandy and caramelised pine nuts.