Monday, April 11, 2011


Can't believe another winter has passed and it's almost summer again. Time to turn on my AC real soon. It's 28C out there! x___x

I'm not a big fan of hot weather so I'm a little sad that I can't survive without at least the fan on.

I haven't been cooking a lot these days. Seems like there are so many things to do nowadays.

Country style pork ribs in garlic, apple and pear sauce, soy sauce, fried chili and dried shrimp, and Chinese red wine, topped with green beans, corn and carrots and sriracha chili sauce.

Spaghetti with catfish cooked in tri-colored bell peppers roasted with olive oil, seasoned with Italian seasoning

Well, this afternoon I went to a wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet) workshop. Japan House invited a person from Boston to teach us. 

While I admit it's fun and the products that we made are yummy, with 30 years of experience, I can't believe he kept referring to the recipe every single step as if he's never made those before :( To me he seemed like a person who simply follow the recipe and not understand the mechanism behind what he's doing. Or maybe it's normal if you're not a food scientist? He doesn't even understand what "caramelized" means. 

Anyways, we made manju, sakuramochi and uchimono.

Uchimono (pressed sweets) - kinda works like making fondants

Uchimono pressed with a corn-shaped mold

Manjuu, "stamped" with a heated iron brand. Has tsuji-an (coarse red bean) fillings.

sakura flower "stamp"

Some stories about the manjuu that we made... In the end the manjuu turned to be too soft - he peeled the manjuu skin as he lifted them from the sarashi (a thin cotton cloth to layer the steamer so the manjuu doesn't stick to the metal pan - a trick used in steaming dim sum as well). I don't know if he's careless or the manjuu is really really soft but I couldn't help but to make a frowned face :(

And then he suggested that people did not put enough flour coating when they roll the manjuu. Yes, he made the dough and we put the red bean fillings into the dough and shaped them round. But I don't think that's the problem because scientifically speaking he did not knead the dough enough to form gluten network, and that's what's missing. I was standing next to him when he made the dough and I thought that you're not supposed to knead it at all since he was really careful not to overknead the dough. I guess that was not really the case :(

I wish I could explain this to him but he insisted that there was not enough flour. But I think I made a wise decision not to tell him what actually went wrong. Otherwise it would be a huge slap on his face, being an expert in Japanese sweet making and all that. I mean, if I were him, I would really feel offended. Like, "what's this snobbish young girl trying to lecture me who has got 30 years of experience making Japanese sweets, huh?" kind of feeling. Meh.

Another thing that I kinda felt "duh, that's like so obvious" was when he mentioned that freshly made sweets are so different from the frozen ones so he doesn't like to make the sweets and freeze them. Like, duh. Really, I think that is pretty much common sense. I think Americans rely so much on ready-to-eat frozen stuffs that they don't really make dishes from scratch anymore. It's so sad. And in that sense I think the developing countries win against America for their freshly made dishes. And I'm not talking about McD or KFC here.

Don't mess with food scientists... cuz they know what's going on in almost every single step you're doing in the kitchen.


Sakuramochi: colored, steamed daimyouji flour with koshi-an (smooth red bean) fillings wrapped in salted sakura leaf.

The people who participated in wagashi workshop

It was a refreshing day :)


Post a Comment

Comments are welcome, but please comment responsibly :)