08 September 2007

Soft and tough...


I find Japanese food incredibly beautiful. Slices of sashimi snugly displayed between some freshly grated wasabi and pink pickled ginger can look deliciously handsome. Their simple flavours also amaze me to no end, and are slowly creeping into the list of food I frequently crave for.

In my previous post on Japanese food, I mentioned how easy to prepare the dishes were. Of course, I've never tried preparing sushi though. I hear it takes decades to even master that. Ever since that fateful Japanese-themed dinner I hosted, I'd been hooked and kept thinking of other Japanese dishes to try.

I thought I'd try some Japanese desserts as well, starting with one of the most common - Daifuku. A round ball of glutinous rice cake stuffed with sweet filling, they are often beautifully packaged in the tiniest of wrappers and sold in boxes of a variety of flavours.

How difficult could it be?

They look friendly enough. Just some glutinous rice flour and water perhaps. Red beans boiled with plenty of water and sugar to a nice smooth paste. Easy peasy.

NOT.

I followed Kimiko Barber's cookbook again, and was a little disturbed by the microwaving of the final product and therefore did a trial with just one, which promptly turned rock hard to my utter distress!

The dough was difficult to manage and it didn't help that the recipe did not include any tips on handling dough that seemed to disintegrate the longer I held it in my hands. I finally succeeded by speeding up my handiwork and plonking it in the bowl of cornstarch as quickly as possible.

The recipe also called for canned red bean paste, which I went around by just making my own. Of course, I didn't know the red beans would take a full hour to even soften in boiling water.

Boiling the little white balls (as opposed to microwaving) seemed to work alot better, though some recipes called for steaming (I didn't want to fiddle around with a steamer). In the end, it was soft and pliable. But taking a bite from a piece I bought from Takashimaya earlier in the day, and then taking a bite from the one I made brought such massive disappointment.

The real McCoy was much more delicate, slightly chewy, and extremely soft. When I laid it in my hand it yielded to its own weight, flattened out and gently took the shape of my palm. My version stubbornly retained its irregularly odd shape and refused to budge. It was then that I really appreciated the skill involved in making these balls of 'great luck' (literally translated).

I'll attempt this again, most probably with better and more extensive research. But I'll never look at daifuku the same way again.

2 comments:

valentinA said...

Hey Big Mama, this looks like glutinous rice balls you know. Your sushis look really cute man:)

p.s: found that glutinous rice balls were sold in Mauritius not long ago *yeehaa!*

Anonymous said...

Stellaaaaa! I know! These are very similar, if not the same, except made with slightly different ingredients from the Chinese ones. And Yay to Glutinous Rice Balls in Mauritius! They are called Tang Yuan here =)