The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 15 Gomatamago ごまたまご

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Welcome to another instalment of the Mochi Diaries, Chapter 15 Gomatamago ごまたまご! Once again these guys really aren’t mochi but in fact intricately designed cakes, however they are omiyage お土産 nonetheless and so kawaii I couldn’t resist!!!

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During my last top to Tokyo 東京 I picked a box of Gomatamago ごまたまご (Lit. Black Sesame Egg) cakes on my way home as the packaging intrigued me. Furthermore Gomatamago are a meibutsu 名物 (Specialty product) of the Tokyo region, so it’s not as if I would have the opportunity to purchase them again in the near future.

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As far as omiyage go these are on the pricy side of things at 700円 for a box containing 8 pieces, that said they are each individually wrapped and sizeable.

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The centre is a sweet paste consisting of kurogoma 黒胡麻 (Black sesame seeds) and anko 餡子 (red bean paste) which is supposed to constitute the ‘yolk’ of the egg…… Perhaps they are piitan 皮蛋 (Chinese century eggs) ( ^ω^ ).

This ‘yolk’ is then coated in a thin layer of kasutera カステラ (castella cake), a type Japanese cake originating in Nagasaki through trade with the Portuguese in 16th century that is immensely popular here. Finally the tamago is coated in a thin layer of white-chocolate to form a delicious crispy ‘shell’!

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All in all I was quite impressed by this tasty treat, I imagine they to well hand in hand with a cup of afternoon tea.
The centre retained a perfect level of moistness and was not overly sweet.
If your ever in Tokyo give a box a try! 4/5

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The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 11 – Kagami Mochi 鏡餅

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Kagami mochi 鏡餅 (Mirror Mochi) is traditional Japanese new years decoration for good luck. It is displayed in the family’s kamidana 神棚 (household shrine) throughout New Years period, up until the 11th of Janurary at which time it is eaten.

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Kagami mochi is made from two hard oval shaped mochi of slightly different sizes. The larger one is placed at the base with the smaller one stacked on top, finaly a daidai 橙 (japanese bitter orange) is placed at the peak.

After the new years period has passed, on Janurary 11th a ceremony called Kagami Biraki 鏡開き (literally. Opening the Mirror) is performed in which the Kagami mochi is removed from the kamidana and broken into small pieces to be eaten.

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Because the mochi has been sitting exposed to the air for several weeks, it becomes cracked and brittle because if this it is possible to break the mochi with a hammer, it is considered bad luck to use a knife for this task as it implies the ‘cutting of ties’.

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I used a mallet to smash mine, anyone who has done this before knows this is no simple task, even with a little one like mine! However as opposed to most people making their own kagami mochi as was done in the past, today it is often sold in the shape of the stacked discs pre-packaged in supermarket, much like the one I myself obtained.

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Now there’s two typical paths your mochi can take from here, traditionally kagami mochi will either end up in zouni 雑煮 (a savory New Years soup) featured above or zenzai 善哉 (sweet red bean soup).

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I chose to make zenzai as I’m much too lazy to make zouni.
For an almost instant and incredibly simple zenzai soup start with a 210g can of yude azuki ゆであずき (prepared sweetened red beans).

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Heat the contents of one can on a liw heat, along with 3/4 of a cup of water.
(Optional) I like mine a bit sweeter, if your similarly inclined, feel free to put a couple spoons of brown sugar in.

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Once it’s boiled down to a thick soupy consistency, serve it up in an athletically pleasing bowl.

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From here throw in your broken pieces of mochi into the piping hot zenzen soup, ensure it is as hot as possible as we want the mochi to dissolve until a sticky globby texture is achieved.
If you want to speed this up microwave the mochi (very briefly) just to heat them up to the point where they begin to become soft. This will speed up the whole process as you won’t need to leave it in the soup so long nor it be so hot.

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This is what your finished product should end up looking like, this is the same recipe I used with the mochi I receive last December from my mochitsuki 餅搗 incase it looks familiar.

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 The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 10 – Kaki Mochi 柿餅

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Mochi Diaries: Chapter 12 – Ichigo Daifuku苺大福

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The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 10 – Kaki Mochi 柿餅

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Welcome to Chapter 10 of the Mochi Diaries, Kaki Mochi 柿餅!

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During a recent trip to Nara I picked up one of these boxes, having quite the affinity for anything Kaki 柿 (Japanese Persimmon) related I was quite excited to have a nom these guys.

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Now firstly upon opening them I was completely taken aback at the intricate detail that went into producing every single mochi in the box!

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Made to resemble the fruit of which they are flavored the mochi consist of four separate ingredients.

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I translated the important bit of the diagram above that came in the box explaining what they are made of.

Essentially they are mostly kaki flavored mochi filled with a core of kaki an 柿あん (persimmon flavored red bean paste).
The leaves are made of dango 団子 held in place by a thin piece of konbu 昆布 (dried sea kelp), honestly the konbu is some what annoying since you must remove it before eating each mochi being inedible.

So you ask, ‘but Daniel what is the difference between mochi and dango?’
Well they are pretty much the same thing, the only difference being in the technique used to make them.

When making mochi, you begin by grinding glutinous rice to a paste which is then steamed and l finally pounded into a sticky dough.
Dango on the other hand is made from rice flour that has been mixed with hot water to make a dough, before being boiled in salted water.

Anyhow beyond the novelty of the mochi, the taste was just ok, that said it was more than made up for by the awesomeness of the presentation of the sweets!
3.75/5

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The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 9 – Mochitsuki Special Edition 餅搗き増刊

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The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 11 – Kagami Mochi 鏡餅

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A Mochitsuki Present

2010 03 Mar 240

Today was mochitsuki (mochi making day) at my chuugakkou 中学校 (Junior High School). In what was literally the most touching thing that has happened to me since I arrived in Japan, a couple of my 2年生 (8th grade) students gave me some handmade mochi they made especially for me.
Apparently they had noticed how much my Japanese has improved since I arrived and they wanted to express their gratitude towards me for studying hard everyday so I could speak with them!

The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 8 – Kuri Yatsuhashi 栗八つ橋

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Yes today I bring to you yet another yatsuhashi instalment of The Mochi Diaries, and so this is Chapter 8 – Kuri Yatsuhashi 栗八つ橋.

The Kuri 栗 (chestnut) flavour is a popular mochi filling at this time of year as we are half way through Aki 秋(autumn).

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Of corse there is to be an autumn variation of yatsuhashi and I came across this box at my favourite omiyage shop in Osaka a few weeks ago.

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I’v tried many kuri flavored mochi in the past so I went in pretty much knowing exactly what to expect, however there is the addition of the awesome texture of the yatsuhashi wrappings that always brings the mochi noming experience up to the next level.

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This aside I think I can safely say that these are my least favourite of the yatsuhashi flavours I have tried thus far.
I find the the Japanese autumn flavours to be on the bland side of things, having a large emphasis on starchy vegetables such as Kabocha 南瓜 (Pumpkin), Kuri 栗 (Chestnuts) and Satsumaimo さつま芋 (Sweet Potato). This really shined through with these kuri yatsuhashi, filled with the vaguely sweet kuri paste which I feel doesn’t compliment the outer mochi all that amazingly.
Regardless I still ate them all hungrily however in the future I think I’d prefer to stick with the more traditional cinnamon variety.
3/5

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The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 7 – Ninja (Kusa) Dango 草餅

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 The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 9 – Mochitsuki Special Edition 餅搗き増刊

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Popin’ Cookin’ – Ramen & Gyoza (Meccha Oishii Japanese Candy Adventures: Part 1)

Welcome to Part 1 one of ‘Meccha Oishii Japanese Candy Adventures’ めっちゃ美味しい日本のお菓子冒険者
Japanese candy has always been a mysterious and intriguing thing to me having seen many of them on the interwebs over the years as ordering them abroad is fairly cost prohibitive.
Alas now that I have arrived in the orient former barriers to deliciousness have been lifted so I intend to spend the next few months sampling and reviewing the plethora of candy mini meal sets on offer.
So what is Popin’ Cookin’? Basically fun interactive candy kits that let you make your own mini gummy that look like food!!

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Alas I present to you the first of many: Popin’ Cookin’ – Ramen & Gyoza
(ポッピンクッキン ラーメンセットの作り方)

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This array of packets makes up the contents of the kit, which will be used to make a mini bowl of ramen and 2 candy gyoza.

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So first step is to whack the brown packet in the ramen bowl and add some water, if you like you can cut out the plastic containers like I did (it’s more kawaii that way)

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Alright next up the yellow sachet with one measure of water will be used to make you ramen noodles, so mix that up until it’s a thick paste.

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Take the plastic bag provided and use the toothpick to make a tiny hole in the corner. Load the corner with the whole up with you noodle paste.

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Finally like you icing a cake squeeze that yellow paste through the toothpick hole straight into the broth…… And your done with your first dish ^_^

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Next were onto the gyoza so take your candy dough, cut it in half then roll each piece out into as flat a circle as you can manage!

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Once their flat as pancakes, take the 100’s n’ 1000’s type filling and place it in the centre of both you gyoza skins
allowing enough room round the edges to seal it up.

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Once you got your filing sorted close up the edges, shaping them to look like real gyoza with your nails.

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Andddddd that’s pretty much it, display them however you like, just make sure to get your nom on caz they are fair tasty.
The most surprising thing about this kit for me personally would have to the fact that the ramen was not candy, but instead emulated real ramen in terms of taste and texture.

All in all for my first time dabbling in the world of Japanese candy I found the whole experience to be quite fun and ingenious, of there all this good I’ll be wasting a lot of money on this stuff in the future.

Popin’ Cookin’ – Ramen & Gyoza
Score
Funness (楽しい) – 4.5/5
Tastiness (美味しい) – 3.5/5
Authenticness (正真正銘) – 3/5
Overall impression (全体の印象) – 4/5

Kobe Center-Gai Ice Sculpture

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As I was strolling around Sannomiya Centre Gai (三宮 センタ街) last Sunday afternoon wasting money as usual, I came across this awesome display made entirely out of ice that could touch.

Needless to say as hungover and hott as I was I gave it a hug much to the puzzled looks of those around me XD

Still it’s nice that you can find stuff like this around Kobe ヾ(@⌒ー⌒@)ノ

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