Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flavours of Japan

Japanese food. Anyone that knows me knows that I love Japanese food. All Japanese food.

Strangely enough, the first time I went there were a number of things I couldn't stand eating. It wasn't a matter of flavour, rather one of texture. Two of the things I remember not liking were mochi (like a chewy rice ball) and anko (red bean paste). I ate them once or twice during that visit, but steered very clear of them after that.

About a year or so after that trip though, I started getting mysterious cravings for both of these foods. Why my body craved something I didn't like, I don't know. Perhaps I was just craving the taste of Japan... Anywho, from then on, I was hooked. Lets just say, my next trip to Japan was very different in terms of food choices...

Me eating taiyaki <3 A fish, shaped pancake (like thing) stuffed with anko), Shoko is eating takoyaki.

Japanese-Western breakfast. Macha toast with butter and a nice thick layer of anko.

Me eating homemade zenzai (at least I think that's what it was called...) which is mochi in soupy red beans.

Dango covered in (very) sweet sauce on skewers. We had them at Osaka castle.

Yum. Looking at these photos brings back such great memories. I'm so glad I decided to like these things - Anko in particular has become one of my favourite Japanese foods.

Unfortunately, anko is in short supply in New Zealand (Read: you can't buy it :( ). Recently however, I found that you can actually buy adzuki beans (canned) in select locations. I also found that making anko isn't that hard, so long as you've got a pot, some sugar and a crazy hunger for some sweet, sweet anko.

Hmm, Check, check aaaaand check ;)

1 can adzuki beans, drained
1/2-3/4 cup sugar

Put ingredients in a pot. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 or so minutes, stirring often. Once mixture has thickened mash roughly with the back of a wooden spoon.

Store in sterilised jar in the fridge.

How does one eat anko, you might ask? My suggestions would be: On toast with butter, with ice cream, sandwiched between two pancakes (and butter), in baking!

OK, I'm not going to lie, I can eat this stuff pretty much with anything. With peanut butter is another suggestion ;D I often just attack the jar with a spoon. Mmmm...

It's amazing how one's tastes can change so dramatically!

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