To answer question regarding the tools I use for making wagashi and where to buy them in Japan, I'm going to introduce some shops online and off line. Hope they are helpful to you wagashi makers! I'll start of with the tools to make anko, the most important ingredient in wagashi.
Those of you who have ever made koshi-an (smooth bean paste) would know that you need two kinds of sieves to strain the pulp from the skin - a course one and a fine one. Ideally the course sieve should be 20-30 mesh and the fine one to be 50 -65 mesh. Mesh, refers to how many opening there are in a linear inch. so the greater the number is, the finer the sieve is. The fine sieve is used to make koshi-an (smooth bean paste) and the course one has other usages such as straining chestnuts and sweet potatoes.
If you don't have space to store them both, you can get a detachable sieve together with the frame. I use the 24 cm frame, which is not too big and not too small.
If you prefer go for the traditional wooden frame sieves you can get them online as well. They come in various sizes indicated as 寸(sun) one寸 is 3cm, so If it says 8寸, it means 24 cm. Just be careful to dry them completely before storing them as it may produce mold. You will be better off with the stainless steel sieves considering all the hassle.
Another item that is useful for making anko is the bouzu nabe. It is translated into bald head pot as it resembles a hairless head, or a monk's head. This pot is great for cooking beans, kneading the paste and also for kneading mochi.
The benefits of using this round bottom pot is that the flames are evenly distributed not just on the bottom but also on the sides which causes water circulation and makes the beans to cook faster and more evenly. It also prevents it from the bottom to burn as the spatula is more fitted around the curve. And yes, a silicone spatula also comes in handy when making anko.
The bouzu nabe comes in various sizes, and I have one that is 21 cm in diameter which will cook up to 800g of bean paste (400g of dry beans). You can also get a 18 cm dia. which will cook up to 600gs of paste (300g of dry beans).
Just remember that you may need to attach the wooden handle yourself (make sure the pot comes with the handle as some don't and you need to purchase them separately). As they are made out of Aluminum or Copper (this one is expensive), it does not work on induction heating.
I've included the link to where you can get them online. I will also refer to where you can get it in shops in Tokyo in my next blog post.
Frame for Sieves
Detachable course sieve (20 mesh)
Detachable fine sieve (65 mesh)
Following last month's Nerikiri Basic Course, Another round was conducted this month with two participants. This course is great for those who would like to learn the basic techniques of Nerikiri Art. To learn more about this course together with other courses in my wagashi school, please check out this page.
.My first Nerikiri Art Certified Instructor Course took place last week. This is a diploma course created by Japan Saloneze Association to teach you the various techniques used for making nerikiri wagashi. It was originally created for Japanese people but due to the popularity of nerikiri wagashi worldwide, it is now available for foreigners interested to learn. Textbook and Instructor manual has been translated into English.
This course can be taken in 3 days. For further details on this course, please visit this page.
Today was the 2nd day for the 3 day-Nerikiri Basic Course. Yesterday we made anko and nerikiri dough from scratch. Today, we made spring and summer motifs. Tomorrow, we will be doing autumn and winter motifs. The Nerikiri Basic Course will cover the basic techniques that are used in making wagashi. Since this will be a private lesson or semi-private lesson with 2 participants max, I will make sure you will acquire the technique before you finish the course.
For more details on this course, please check this page.
I'm Miyuki and I teach Japanese Home cooking at my home in Tokyo.