Arare rice crackers : zarame ume + shoyu

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Shoyu arare (soy sauce caramel rice cracker).

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Ume zarame arare (plum and sugar rice cracker).
They are 2 classic flavors for Japanese rice crackers.
You had already seen :

savory arare
matcha arare

Let’s make 2 new types of Japanese rice crackers. Here is my simplified recipe :

Cut a mochi in cubes.
Everything about mochi (click)

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Let dry 2 days.

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Toast till golden in the oven toaster.

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ザラメ This square candy sugar is called zarame.

DSC08954-001 umeboshi pickled plum

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For the plum sugar flavor, pass in a mix of pasted umeboshi flesh and sarame sugar, dry in the toaster a few minutes, add more sarame sugar.

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For the shoyu, put a block or a tbs of kurozato black sugar in a sauce pan with a little water. When sugar has melted add some soy sauce, simmer till it gets syrupy. Coat the arare.

I have no idea about how long you can keep them. They disappear immediately after the photos are taken.

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Crostata di Marmellata di ‘Ume’

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Well one more pie for the Daring Baker challenge, after well already 3 others. That’s not reasonable. The excuse is I had to use my home-made ume plum and kurozato black sugar jam. The crostata di marmellata is the Italian jam pie, the cousin of the Linzer, so that was the occasion.
And that was delicious… I wanted to keep for better photos the next day, but that has not been possible.

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The dough is sesame powder (a lot), flour, yellow cane sugar, olive oil, a pinch of cinnamon and just enough water. I pre-baked the bottom before garnishing.

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The jam without the stones, a little more sugar and a little flour to thicken it.

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Decorated like a Linzer Torte. I tried.

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With left-over of dough, a cookie size one make with bought cassis (black currant) jam.

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Baked !

So this is not exactly… what I made but here is the true recipe that inspired it.

Crostata di marmellata:

(recipe from Rachael, blog Pizzarossa, from the challenge Daring Baker)

Servings: 8
Active time: 1 hour altogether
Baking time: 30 minutes altogether
Chilling and resting: 2 hours altogether
Cooling time: 3 hours altogether

Ingredients

Filling

Note: You need about 2 cups (500 ml) (680 gm) (24 oz) of jam for the filling. This should make about as much as you need, depending on the juice content of the strawberries, but you can use more or less filling without a problem.

My apologies, I forgot to take step-by-step pictures of the filling but I’m sure you can imagine what some strawberries and sugar look like!

3-1/3 cups (800 ml) 500 gm strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
250 gm 2:1 gelling sugar (or 500 gm of 1:1 gelling sugar, or as much white sugar (1 to 2 cups) as desired + pectin according to manufacturer’s quantities)
2 tablespoons (45 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pasta Frolla (basic Italian pie pastry)

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1-2/3 cups (400 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
pinch salt

Glaze

Note: This will make more than you need. Store leftover glaze in a jar in the fridge and reheat before using. It should keep indefinitely.

¼ cup (60 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) apricot jam
1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

Filling

1. Stir everything together in a heavy-based saucepan and heat slowly over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.

2. When the strawberries have released their juice and the mixture comes to a boil, allow to boil for the time given in the gelling sugar/pectin manufacturer’s directions.

3. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

4. Can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, for up to a week until needed.

Pastry

1. Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 – 5 minutes. The amount of time you cream the butter will affect the final dough – longer means lighter which in turn means a softer, more fragile dough which is less easy to work, but I prefer the texture of the cooked pastry this way because it’s lighter too. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I’d recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.

2. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

3. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft, about 1 minute using a stand or electric mixer or a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Don’t over-mix.

4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.

5. When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

6. Lightly grease a shallow 9″/24cm metal pie dish.

7. On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough (I weighed my dough and 2/3 was about 12oz/340g) out to a circle to generously line the pie dish. I prefer to use parchment with a circle traced on it so I can roll it as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.

8. Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.

9. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.

10. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4..

11. Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.

12. Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.

13. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.

14. Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips.

15. Spread the filling over the par-baked crust.

16. Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling (see links below for some how-to guides – you can do an intricate intertwined lattice or a very simple overlay one like I’ve done), trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.

17. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.

Glaze

1. Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Alternatively, you can heat it on medium-high in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.

2. Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it’s chunky.

3. While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over lattice crust.

4. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.

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Two shades of ‘ume’. Plums from the rains.

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The rainy season we have now in Japan (mid-June ~ mid-July in Kansai) is married with the plums. It’s called the “plum rains”. So these ume are the “rain plums”.
You make think they are not ripe on this photo. It’s true they are very sour and hard. But that’s at this stage of maturation that they are picked and used to make umeboshi (pickled plum).

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When they reach this color they are too mature for the salted pickle. When they become soft…they are not sweet, still as sour and less fragrant. Well, mines are yellow and still hard.

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Good to make jam !

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With kurozato black sugar.

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I’ve just put the whole plums, blocks of sugar and water in the home-bakery. Lazy… but I was punished : that splashed and then cleaning the machine was a hell !

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On the little plate, ume pesto (see here).

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Ume by Botticelli. Rain plums in a shell.

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This shellfish looks beautiful and make beautiful dishes. Hotate (scallops) from Hokkaido. I’ve associated them with ume, the sour green plums of rainy season

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Well, they were very full. I discard the black part, clean well and keep the strings and bits for a soup.
I just cut the “nut” , painted with olive oil and grilled.

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Served with ume pesto :

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Paste a raw ume plum, fresh oregano, roast sesame seed, a little salt. Add olive oil and cane sugar.

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Then enjoy a sip of broth. Mmmmm…

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Hamo no aburi – flames on fish – la murène en flammes

Hamo (Pike Conger, Murene Japonaise) is a popular fish for Summer in Kansai, particularly in Kyoto. It’s a second rate fish for many, but in Japan, it’s considered a delicacy.

A modern way to prepare it is “aburi”. Aburi is bathed by flames. It’s between grilled and raw sashimi. See this for recipe :
Aburi-zushi (flamed)

A piece of hamo. It’s a long eel type fish, so the fishmonger opened it, took away the bones by making many parallele indentation :

That’s why it look as if it had rays.

When you cook the skin, it retracts and the fish slightly rolls on itself… OK, not a pro result. I’m working on it.

It is served simply with a little point of condiment. For instance….

Pasted umeboshi. Take one of those plums (dried and pickled), pit it and mash in a mortar. You can also buy some in tube like mustard and wasabi, which I also used, but really the whole plums are more polyvalent.

Really great… The grilled flavor and the sashimi sweetness, pinpointed by the fruity sourness of the plum.

Ume plum blossoms for an early Spring tea

Ume (Japanese sour plum) trees are blossoming in Osaka. Their fragrance is like in a dream.

Old style yatsuhashi sweets (from a shop, not home-made). They are a specialty tea cake of Kyoto, whose production started in Yatsuhashi (8 bridge street) in 17th Century.

The oldest ones were yaki yatsuhashi that are cookies, shape in half cylinder, like the bridge that gave the name. Today, it’s nama yatsuhashi (fresh time), a more recent type.

My green tea looks muddy. I have added a little matcha (ceremony powdered tea) in my cup of sencha (Japanese leaf tea)…
Matcha is NOT powdered sencha, they are from different tea leaves, from tea bushes grown differently, so tastes differ, but they went well together.

This yatsuhashi is matcha flavored. This is a variation, not too recent. They recommend it for this season as green is the color of Spring, of course.

The sweet is made of a sheet of mochi, inside tsubuan (chunky sweetened azuki beans).The powder around is kinako (roast soy bean flour) slightly sweetened.
To know more about ingredients :
Wagashi Saga : Photo-menu of all Japanese sweet posts.

Now, hanami, the blossom viewing festival means cherry blossoms in Japan. Over 1000 years ago, ume plum blossoms were the most popular , and there were other flower events. High society refined people would have small picnics under the tree, to hear poetry and music.
All these traditions were those of the princes of China. Japanese nobles imported their lifestyle and pertpetuaded long after it became extinct in China.

The historic yatsuhashi, the nikki flavor. Nikki is cassia, Chinese cinnamon. Yes, that’s the one that is toxic, but amounts are small here.

They recommend this flavor for the season as the nikki taste is complex and fragrant and relates to the smell of the ume flowers.

Hey, you don’t eat anything at any time of the year, in Old Japan. You have to tune all your life to nature, stars and moon.