Monday, July 31, 2006

Sweet Seasons/July 2006 - Green Maple -

No, I didn’t procrastinate this time. I decided to make it a rule to post a wagashi entry on the last day of every month. That way, this blog’s monthly archives will always have a wagashi entry on top, which I hope will give you a taste of the month before you scroll down. :)

Aokaede (Green Maple)

Green maple seems to be a popular wagashi theme for early summer and mid-summer in the world of tea ceremony. In this time of the year, being in the shade created by elegant green maple leaves, you can temporarily forget the unbearable heat in the daytime. The soothing beauty must have triggered thousands of confectioners to recreate it with wagashi.

This aokaede is basically a kanten jelly with green colored an (sweet bean paste) just partially covering the top. It is amazing that having this small green part on top can give you a stronger impression of greenness than coloring the entire jelly green.

Another kanten jelly with the theme related to something cold...


This whirlpool shape is called Kanze-sui or Kanze-mizu 観世水, which is one of Japanese traditional patterns. It derived from the crest of Kanze family -- the famous noh (Japanese traditional drama) master’s family. The design symbolizes the water ripples in the well at their family shrine in Kyoto.

The dark spots on the right are a couple of azuki beans representing pebbles in the clear water. Kanzesui jellies often contain small beans, and they give a nice accent to the taste and texture of the jelly.

Wagashi by Shingetsu
* These photos were taken with my old camera.



ghanima said...

So beautiful!

How are wagashi eaten, obachan? Do they get eaten right away, or can they be stored?

Anonymous said...

They both look really refreshing. I can just imagine how hot and humid it must be in Japan right now! Take care and stay hydrated!

Anonymous said...

These are quite beautiful. They would make quite a display set up on a mirror for a buffet, I would think, like rows of sparkling jewels. How is the kanten flavored? Does the flavor vary with the type of sweet?

obachan said...

If it’s not a dry-type, usually they say eat it within a day or two to enjoy it the best, but I think it stays OK for 3 to 4 days (except in the middle of summer). Some can stay OK longer.

They also say that most wagashi freezes well.

It IS hot and humid. But for me it’s far better than being rained on.

Yeah, definitely like jewels.
Some kanten wagashi are just sweet and others are flavored with things like juice of fruits, ume, ume-shu, matcha, and so on… I remember once eating a blue kanten jelly like this kanzesui flavored with soda water. BTW, there is such a thing as “chocolate yokan,” too. I just found it on the net. How about that?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I love jellies, and these look tasty! :-)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mind-blowingly beautiful!!! I'd like to taste one of those...

obachan said...

Oh, not all yokan are an-based. There are “clear” type just like this kanzesui, and so was the chocolate yokan, I think (but I’m not 100% sure because the photo was not a close-up.)

Taste-wise, they were basically just sweet and that was about it. But they were certainly a feast to the eyes.

Come over to Japan and try one … or more! :D

Anonymous said...

The kanzesui one is the most impressive one of this kind of dessert I have seen. It looks big and evokes bigness.

obachan said...

Well, actually the kanzesui jelly was about the same size as the green maple jelly (and the same price.)

Anonymous said...

How do you make the bean paste inside the jelly? Did you put the paste first in the mold then add the jelly liquid before it form? or ??? i was just thinking making a coconut cake with red readbean paste but trying to figure out how to combine them. Can you share the trick?


obachan said...

Oh, sorry I didn't make it clear -- I didn't make these wagashi myself. They were bought at one of the popular wagashi shops in town. I assume that they put the paste first and added the jelly liquid, like you said. The timing must be perfect, though. I once tried to make a two-layered kanten jelly, but maybe because I waited too long before pouring the jelly liquid for the second layer, I ended up with two separate blocks of jelly. :P But I may be sounding silly, because I'm not sure what your coconut cake is like ... I don't know if it's a kanten-jelly thing or batter thing...

lnielsen said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing lovely pictures of wagashi. The kanten-jelly wagashi seems perfect for summer. I'm not familiar with green bean paste, is that something you can buy from Japanese supermarket? Or can I 'dye' it using matcha ? Would something like this work? :