Translated by NaomiAbe
【Washoku(和食:Japanese food) and Utsuwa(器:a container)】"Japanese Fall Sweets"
Written by MATCHA
If you are asked to list fall foods, what are they? In Japan, fall is the season for dishes and sweets with sweet potatoes (Imo 芋), chestnuts (Kuri 栗) , and pumpkins (Kabocha 南瓜).
Here, I’m going to introduce you three kinds of Japanese sweets using these foods. Each one uses only 5 - 6 ingredients and takes only 20 minutes to make. So let's check it out.
1. Rice cakes with sweet potato
Daifuku is a kind of sweet rice cake popular among people both in Japan and abroad. Strawberry Daifuku is most well known but Daifuku with sweet potato is a good choice in fall. The chewy texture of rice cakes fits nice with sweet potato fillings!
Ingredients for 10 pieces
- 100g glutenous rice flour
- 70g sugar
- 170cc water
- Katakuriko powder (starch originally made from Japanese dogtooth violet. Today potato starch is widely used instead of it under the same product name.)
- 300g sweet potato
【1】Peel sweet potato thick, cut them into 1 cm dices and soak them in water for a while, then drain.
【2】 Stir water (quantity not specified) and a tablespoon of sugar softly in a saucepan to mix. Put the dices into the pan and heat till soften, then drain.
【3】Mush the sweet potato. When chilled, make it into ten small balls with your hands.
【4】 Heat rice flour, the rest of the sugar and 170 cc water in a saucepan at low heat while stirring all the time with a rubber spatula.
It's ready when the mixture is a little clearer and the texture gets thicker.
【5】Sprinkle starch powder on a tray and place the rice dough on it. Dredge the dough with starch powder and divide it into 10 pieces.
【6】Flatten the dough piece with your fingers covered with starch powder, wrap each sweet potato ball with the flatten dough.
I chose a blue plate for Daifuku so that it makes nice contrast with yellow sweet potato. If sweet potato balls don't hold together, add a little water.
Stuff a piece of cream cheese in sweet potato filling. It adds a nice sour flavor.
2. Pancakes with chestnut
All-purpose hotcake mix can be used to make many kinds of cake and it is a very popular souvenir of Japan. I will show you how to make Dora-yaki pancakes with the mix. For a fall recipe, I use chestnuts to add in red bean paste filling.
Ingredients for 6 - 8 pieces
- 200g hotcake mix
- 1 egg
- 150cc milk
- 250g pre-made red bean paste
- 6-8 chestnuts
【1】Soak whole chestnuts in water for half-day.
【2】Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt to a liter of water and boil the chestnuts for 20 - 30 minutes (time depends on the size of each chestnut).
【3】Beat an egg and milk with a beater in a bowl.
【4】Put hotcake mix in the egg and milk mixture and whip till they are mixed.
【5】Pour a little less than a ladleful of the batter on a heated frying pan or a hot plate.
【6】Turn the pancake upside down when the surface gets a bit drier and bubbles appear.
【7】After boiling chestnuts for 20 - 30 minutes, turn off the heat and cool them down in the pan without draining the water.
【8】Peel the chestnuts (both outer and inner skins).
【9】Fill red bean paste and a chestnut between two pancakes.
By cooling chestnuts in the warm water, you can prevent them from getting too dry. I chose a traditional half circle tray (Hangetsu-bon 半月盆) to serve Dora-yaki for additional Japanese taste.
You can enjoy other flavors by filling whipped cream or the leftover Daifuku dough between the pancakes.
3.Rice cake balls with pumpkin
This is the writer's best choice of fall sweets. The chewy pumpkin rice cake balls taste good with a lot of maple syrup.
Ingredients for 20 pieces
- 100g glutenous rice flower
- 150g pumpkin
- 60-70cc water
- Maple syrup (or honey or brown sugar syrup)
- 20g walnuts
【1】Roast walnuts at 170 °C for 9 minutes.
【2】Take seeds off and peel pumpkin. Cut it into 3 cm dices. Heat them at 500 W for 5 minutes in a microwave.
【3】Mush pumpkin, add rice flower, knead with your hands and hold them together.
【4】Add water little by little until the dough has the texture of an earlobe.
【5】When the dough holds together without crumbling, make small balls with your hands.
【6】Put the balls in boiling water.
【7】After the balls float up, boil 1 - 2 minutes.
【8】Drain and soak balls in cold water to cool.
When you add water to the dough, be careful not to add too much at a time. I chose a red and black lacquer wood bowl to bring the golden yellow color out. Both yellow and red remind people in Japan of fall leaves.
You can use sweet potato instead of pumpkin. Since sweet potatoes usually contain less water than pumpkins, add a little more water to the dough, but again little by little so that it won't get too soft.
Did you like the recipes? As I showed, it is easy to make Wagashi sweets with seasonal ingredients in your kitchen.
Isn't it nice if you can eat your favorite Wagashi that you find in Japan after you get back home? Your family and friends will no doubt enjoy the souvenir of Japan that you make. I hope you try cooking.
Address：2-12-3 Yasutomi blg 2F, Kandajinbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Credit card：Available, Visa, Master
Access：1 min. walk from "Jinbocho Station" Exit A4 of Toei Mita Line/Toei Sinjuku Line
If you'd like to learn how to make Japanese sweets, contact the school via the above website.
竹澤 寿見子某大手料理教室で3年間の勤務を経て、退職後1ヶ月間ヨーロッパを旅行しながら日本食を教える。 2014年4月から、外国人向け日本料理教室「Smithkitchen」を運営する。 料理教室の傍ら、ケータリングも精力的に行う。食べるコトや旅行が大好き。