Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Every other month or so I get invited to roll sushi with a couple veteran rollers. We were once asked to bring a desert and what we brought were some amazing ice cream sandwiches (which I'll post in the near future). They were good and well received but there was an obvious disconnect. Now a year or so later I stumbled across this recipe for a beautiful dessert that seems will pair with the sushi a little better. I haven't made them yet but I'll update the post when that happens. For now here is the recipe verbatim from Obachan's Kitchen



350 g Shiro-an (Sweetened white bean paste)
10 g rice flour
12 mL water
10 g white sugar
Food coloring
* I understand your concern about the food coloring. More and more Japanese confectioners use natural colors of fruits/vegetables to color wagashi these days. They use the juice or knead steamed vegetable into the dough. From what I read online, some use, for example, beets for red color, egg yolk or pumpkin for yellow, matcha for green, purple potatoes for purple, etc. This time I used store-bought red food coloring, but use what you feel comfortable with. If you come up with a good idea, please let me know.

Heat sweetened white bean paste in a pot over a VERY low heat, stirring vigorously. It’ll turn soft first then somewhat come together, maybe in 4 to 5 minutes?? The paste is done if it does not stick to the skin when you touch it with the back of your hand. * I do not recommend using microwave for this procedure, because once you overdo it, there’s no way to fix it. Plus, you’ll need to use a pot later to heat the dough again anyway, so it'll be easier to start with a pot.

In a microwavable bowl, mix rice flour, water and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for apx. 30 seconds. (When I want to make whighter nerikiri dough, I reduce the amount of water a little and stir small amount of egg white into the water before adding it to the bowl.)

Stir well until it turns white, glossy and elastic. This is called gyuhi, which is practically similar to the daifuku skin.

Take 20 g of the gyuhi made as above and add to the bean-paste. Keep stirring vigorously over VERY low heat (for 3 to 4 minutes??) until the dough becomes a little softer and more elastic than the bean paste, but not sticking to your fingers.

After the dough cools, keep it wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying up.
* They say you can freeze this nerikiri dough, but again I’m not sure how long it keeps well in the freezer. When I tried, the dough was perfect when thawed at room temperature after keeping it in the freezer for 1 week.

You can color dough with food coloring and play with different color combinations. Be careful not to make the dough too mushy when coloring it. Also you can make the dough into different shapes using molds, cookie cutters, etc.

One technique:

Make small balls of shiroan (the yellowish one in the photo), pink-colored nerikiri dough and white nerikiri dough. Wrap an with pink dough. Then wrap the pink dough with thin white dough.


The pink color should vaguely show through the white skin. Make incisions using knife, fork, spoons, etc. so that the pink color would show in the cuts. My hunch is that something made of wood may be better than metallic utensils.

Another technique:

Put pink and white dough together. Smudge the borderline with a finger.

Flatten the dough and wrap shiro-an ball with it. Shape into a flat ball and smooth the surface.

Make incisions. I used the flat wooden pick that will be included in my wagashi-making kit.

Two types of flowers I made using this method.

More techniques for making color gradations are introduced here and here (text is in Japanese only, but the photos are pretty self-explanatory.)

And if you didn’t like what you made, just put everything together and, using plastic wrap like this, squeeze it into a small chestnut or onion shaped ball with an interesting color mixture. ;)