Skip to main content

Dessert in Japan

I have a sweet tooth. There. It's out there. My mother has always known, and now the world does, too. Anything sugary and I'm there. Still no cavities, thank heaven, but it may just be a matter of time.

Japan also has a sweet tooth, which is a mixed blessing for me. Food often has a slightly sweet taste to it - from the thin skinned inari rolls to the kim chi we bought from our neighborhood green grocer - that is ever so lovely. It is almost refreshing to eat things that are not sickly sweet, but rather subtle. It seems like the blend of flavors is better, and that the overall texture of what I'm eating comes through somehow.


My newest discovery that I feel little compunction to resist is mochi (pronounced mosh-ee) and it's many versions. Rice is pounded into a paste that is molded into a ball usually around red-bean paste. The outer shell can come in a veritable rainbow of colors, and the inside is often simply the bean paste. (Mochi can also be savory, but I haven't discovered those yet.)


On Saturday on a trip to nearby Kichijoji, we surveyed a veritable sea of Japanese desserts. I chose a sort of traditional round shaped one and one that was seasonal in theme. These are called wagashi, and are often fashioned to suit the time of year in shape and style as well as ingredients. I chose one that had the mochi rice outer shell with bean paste inside, but had the addition of a cherry tree leaf wrapped around the outside. Presumably preserved from last year, the leaf had a slightly salty taste that off-set the sweetness of the dessert. Once the season passes, these won't be available for purchase until next spring when the cherry blossoms come again.

Comments

margaret said…
Hi Joan!!! I've got to catch up with your blog posts. I hope you and R. are settling in and getting comfy. Speaking of the Japanese sweet tooth, they are totally crazy for high end French pastry. The legendary French patissier, Pierre Hermé, has a boutique in Tokyo--the only other city in the world to have PH shops besides Paris. You *must* check it out and have a macaron (a totally different creature from a macaroon)

Here are the Pierre Hermé locations in Tokyo:

Hotel New Otani

Aoyama District (shop includes a Chocolate Bar)

Isetan Department Store, Shinjuku District

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro