Chestnut Yanggaeng: Korean Candy

The little Korean grocery store (Hyundai Asian Market) where I often shop, has a full aisle stocked with mysterious snacks and sweets.
This candy caught my eye because the package reminded me of a lacquered box filled with treasure. The chestnuts, just visible through the window on the front, seemed to glow through dark amber.
This is a sophisticated confection: the flavor of the red beans shines, and the chestnuts retain their distinct texture and taste. It is a lovely treat to serve with tea or ice cream.

Japanese Crepes

After making okonomiyaki, the cabbage stuffed Japanese pancake, I became curious about other Japanese pancakes. I’ve made pajeon, a Korean version on okonomiyaki made with nira or Chinese chives. I’ve since learned that it is very popular in Japan where it is called chijimi. On the sweet side are doriyaki, the popular Japanese sweet pancake-sandwich filled with sweet bean jam. Then I considered crepes, the delicate French pancakes with the lacy edges. I thought about the historic influence of Japan and Europe upon each other…
So why would there not be such a thing as Japanese crepes?

Apple Pear

I really liked the pear paired with the Korean noodles—an appealing combination of cool salty-sour and succulent sweet, a fusion of flavor possibilities to appreciate.
Tomatoes in Michigan at this time of year are very sorry approximations of their savory-umami-summer sweetness. For an open-minded person there are many wonderful fruit alternatives available here: mango, papaya, persimmon, kumquat, grapefruit and orange, apple, and pear.

Dip from Japan to Greece

The innovative combination of pureed edamame beans, feta, yogurt, and olive oil make a deliciously distinctive dip, a wasabi-pea-green and salty-not-quite-sour dunking medium for rice crackers or vegetables. So while I submit this relatively healthy snack I’ve brought over to sustain us at the work-new-house, you can enjoy it as an accompaniment to beer, sake, or as an appetizer.
This is a recipe I posted about a couple of years ago, and I posted an article with information about green soybeans in the garden.

Calpis: Karupisu
For the longest time, I’ve wanted to make this Japanese milk drink. J. remembers first having Calpis with his Japanese tutor, about twenty years ago. They would sit out on her sun-porch to study; one day she served him a glass of the pleasant milky white soft drink. But I recall that thirty years (+) ago, J. brought me a beautiful blue-paper wrapped bottle from Manna, the foreign and very exotic grocery store in Ann Arbor. It looked like a bottle of fine liqueur—a drink for celebration with its cheerful patter of white dots. Then he told me it is called “cowpiss!”
One of us remembers he visited me when were in junior high school. I should ask him if he thought I was “cute” back then!

Fresh Ginkgo Nuts
fresh gingko nuts

A ginkgo, lovely as it is with its evocative nickname—maidenhair tree: for its fan-shaped leaves resembling the pinnae of the Maidenhair fern.—raining gold in the fall, the seeds concealing edible green lucky jade, is not a good reason to buy a house. But as we considered living in that house, I noticed that the garden/landscape had some unusual plants. I looked up and saw that tree to fall in love with. Of course, I looked down and picked up some of the seeds. I know better now; I won’t fall in love with another house.

Sesame Seed Senbei

I came across this senbei recipe while wandering around the internet, looking at Japanese food blogs at 3 a.m. There are many things that seem like great ideas at that time of night, but which seem foolish in the light of day; these crackers are really are good anytime.

These crackers are nice and healthy eaten plain. But they’d be great with a tangy feta, cream cheese and olives, or one of these dips I’ve posted about: Bright Green Edamame Dip or Soybean Hummus.

Mitsumami: Japanese Summer Fruit Dessert
This is a classic Japanese sweet summer treat, featuring soft, smooth, crisp textures and colors of all the seasonal fruit, studded with sparkling cool gems and creamy ice cream. What is not to like!
Like ordinary gelatin, agar is flavorless and becomes gelatinous when it’s dissolved in water, heated, and then cooled. It can be used as a substitute in most recipes. Agar, though, gels more firmly than gelatin, and it sets and melts at a higher temperature–it can even set at room temperature.