18 Jan 2017 in Food Culture
Have you ever tasted wagashi, those irresistible Japanese confectioneries made from natural ingredients?
The word wagashi includes all Japanese confectionery. Wagashi are classified (into 3 kinds) according to the production method and moisture content. Namagashi, traditionally served with tea, are the most aesthetically pleasing.
But these are not the only kind, you are bound to come across other confectioneries as you stroll around, in the streets, near the temples, and you must find the time to try them.
There are many kinds of wagashi, some more commonly found than others:
Daifuku: One of the most popular, this can be found everywhere, even in supermarkets! This is a mochi often filled with anko, a paste made of red beans.
Dango: These are little Japanese sweet dumplings made with rice flour, skewered on a stick with various seasonings, such as mitarachi, a sweet syrup made with soy sauce.
Dorayaki: Made famous by the film “Sweet bean”, it consists of two little pancakes with anko sandwiched between them.
Okoshi: Made from crispy rice and wheat, okoshi is a toasted cake, coated with syrup before drying and cut into squares.
Kuzukiri: A translucent kind of noodle used for sweets or stews, but also a representative dessert of Kyoto during summer, when freezed with brown sugar syrup
Manju: A small glazed bun garnished with koshian.
Yatsuhashi: a traditional kind of dough made from steamed mixture of rice, flour and cinnamon, then flattened and baked. Other variants could be simply not baked or filled with sweet bean paste and fold in triangle shape
Finally, monaka are small, crispy, shell-shaped wafers, which you spread with anko.
Tea by the river
To discover all the romance of the tea ceremony and enjoy the subtle taste of the various wagashi, the best time to choose is when the cherry trees are in blossom. Comfortably installed on the terrace of HOSHINOYA Kyoto, on the banks of the river, you can savour your matcha tea and appreciate the aesthetic delight of namagashi.
This confectionery, made from wheat flour, rice or sesame paste and shaped into fruits or flowers, perfectly illustrates the talent and attention to detail of Japanese confectioners.