A little while ago I received a wonderful package. It was sent to me by the very talented Amatō, who is the author of the site Wagashi Maniac (most of the content is in German, some posts are in English, too). Amatō’s site is about Japanese food. No, that sounds like an understatement. It is like an encyclopedia on Japanese food. Amatō puts a lot of work and time into that page. You will not only find recipes accompanied by beautiful pictures, but also explanations on common and not so common ingredients, their use, and where to buy them. I have to admit that I had heard about most of the ingredients before but never used any of them. With the help of her emails and her site I was able to figure out their use.
Amatō sent me three kinds of rice flour: Mochi-ko, Shiratama-ko, and Genmai-Mochiko. According to what she writes on her site, Mochi-ko and Shiratama-ko both can be used for Mochi, although Shiratama-ko seems to be easier to use. Genmai-Mochiko is Mochi-ko flour made from brown rice. Ignorant as I am I would have thought that rice flour is rice flour. Now I know that definitely isn’t the case. There are many different flours not only made from different kinds of rice but also with the help of very different and elaborate processing methods.
These are my first seaweed samples! Except for nori in sushi, I have never tasted wakame, hijiki, or kombu. Kombu is an essential ingredient for dashi broth and wakame is great in miso soup. Again, I am going to check out Amatō’s site to see what I can do with it.
I also got some cherry blossom (sakura) liqueur and powder. I already found a great recipe for the sakura liqueur: sakura parfait. It’s perfect now that it’s getting warmer and it is probably not very difficult to veganize. Something that also catched my eye are these crêpes. And of course mochi!
Here is a picture of shiso and kuzu-yu. Shiso (Perilla) is an edible herb. I got the red kind, which, according to Amatō, is used for tsukemono (Japanese pickes). Kuzu-ko (kudzu) is a starch that can be used as a binding and gelling agent, for example to make pudding (another recipe I am definitely going to try out). Kuzu-yu, she told me, is some kind of ginger flavoured tea, with a rather thick consistency.
Look at these wonderful green tea samples! I used to be a huge tea drinker and would spent a lot of money on good quality tea. Then I got stuck with coffee. These tea samples will probably make me rediscover my old habits. I got a sample of gykouro, genmaicha, sencha, and two differnt kinds of kabusecha. I cannot wait to try them!
Speaking of green tea, I also got these matcha samples. I have seen this pop up as an ingredient in many recipes and I have always been very curious to try it. I was sure I would like it as I am a huge fan of this green tea chocolate, which is flavoured with matcha. The matcha powder was the first ingredient that I wanted to try and Amatō suggested to make some macaroons with the powder. And that’s what I did!
For these macaroons, I used my basic macaroon recipe. The only change I made was to add 1 tablespoon of matcha powder. I also dipped some of the macaroons in chocolate (for the whole batch use 100g or 3.5 oz of bittersweet chocolate). The chocolate masks the matcha flavour, so it is best to just dip the macaroon bottoms into the chocolate.