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.
Here are some photos of what we made for the rest of the course. As we did 2 classes a day, there were more that we can eat. In this course you will learn the popular dishes in Japanese cuisine. For more details please visit this page.
Day 2 of the Intensive Cooking Course B consisted of 2 classes: Introduction to Japanese Cooking and Home Cooking. We started off with a Supermarket tour to show you about the Japanese ingredients that will be used in class including the essential condiments: Soy Sauce, Sake, Mirin and Miso.
The first class consists of a lecture on Japanese condiments, basics of Japanese cooking and food presentation based on the Ying-Yang and Wu-Xing principles. Then we go on to washing and cooking rice, making dashi (FIsh stock), and some dishes using dashi, including the dashi maki tamago (dashi flavored egg omelette), miso soup, ohitashi (vegetables marinaged in soy flavored dashi) and chawanmushi (savory egg custard)
The second class will teach you how to make the multi-purpose sauce, and using the sauce, we made several dishes that are common in Japanese Home Cooking such as niku-jaga (stewed potatoes and meat) and goma ae (vegetables in sesame sauce) and teriyaki salmon.
At the end, we made 10 dishes including the miso marinated fish that will be ready to eat in the next class.
For more information on the Intensive Cooking Course, please visit this page.
Another round of Intensive cooking course starts again. This time we started out with a visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market and Kappa Bashi Shopping Street. It was an extremely hot day but It's always so fascinating to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market.
The inner market is open to visitors only from 11 am, so we couldn't really get to see too much but at least you can see how vast the place is and so much seafood sold in a day! Next time I will tell them I'm there to shop so we can get in earlier.
After lunch, we headed for the Kappa Bashi Dougugai (Cooking Utensil Shopping Street). I usually come here to get the wagashi tools as you cannot get them anywhere else. This time I got a couple of sets of cooking chopsticks at Hashitou.
For more information on the Intensive Cooking Course, pleas 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.
This week I will be holding a intensive cooking course for a charming aspiring chef from France. This is a private class that will teach how to make all the popular Japanese dishes. The first day started with a supermarket tour and a lecture on Japanese cuisine. We then started to cook, starting with the basics, washing and cooking Japanese rice and making dashi (fish stock).
In the end we made 11 dishes;
Today was the 3rd class of my Nerikiri Basic Course. (I finally remembered to take photos). This class is for people who would like to learn the basic techniques of making nerikiri wagashi starting from the bean paste making.
Today was the 3rd class and we made the spring motifs. The biggest difference between this class and the one-day class is that you will get a textbook with step by step tutorials for the motifs you will be making. This I hope will help you replicate the creations.
For more details on this course, please visit this page.
Yesterday was a special request class to make mochi ice cream along with other mochi desserts.
We started off with making matcha warabi mochi using tofu, then went on to make strawberry daifuku and ice cream mochi, and finished off by making mitarashi dango, which are mochi balls in skewers with a sweet soy sauce glaze.
They are all mochi but the ingredients and their proportions are slightly different. The warabi mochi uses tofu and potato starch, the strawberry daifuku and mochi ice cream both uses glutinous rice flour (shiratamako) and sugar but in different proportions as the mochi for the ice cream must be soft even when it is refrigerated. Dango uses a mix of glutinous rice flour and joshinko which is a rice flour made with the Japanese short grain rice. The two rice flours have a different texture - glutinous rice being soft and the joshinko being chewy.
I think I made too much considering the fact that the mochi ice cream cannot be taken home and should be eaten in class. But I think we all had a great time making lots of mochi.
For mochi class requests, please contact me.
I'm Miyuki and I teach Japanese Home cooking at my home in Tokyo.