Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shiruko - Japanese Mochi and Azuki Bean Dessert Soup

Shiruko

Had it not been for dear Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen, who selected rice as her current theme for this month's No Croutons Required, I'm not sure that I would have landed on this recipe in any hurry. I was specifically hunting down something unusual. By the looks of this, I think I was successful. It did, however, take me endless hours of research, including a stumble onto what have instantly become my favorite You Tube tutorials for Japanese food preparation. Francis, the charming, intelligent, and patient host of the channel, does not yet feature instruction for shiruko, a sweet slurp of red azuki bean broth decorated with a floating raft of grilled mochi, but you can find several simple and reliable recipes from Japanese Food About.com, Taste of Zen, and Dosankodebbie's Blog. Each is slightly different, but all include the essential traditional ingredients: red beans and white rice cakes.

For slightly more pizazz, and to minimize the very elastic chew of the mochi, I opted to grill each hard rice rectangle in a square waffle iron cell for 15 minutes. The texture was crispy, crunchy, and light, not unlike puffed rice. I finished each bowl with the lightest rub of dried green mugwort from my fingertips. Mugwort is a distinctively hued herb not unlike green matcha tea, that is used to blend into soft mochi and noodles for novel color and subtle aroma and flavor. A member of the artemesia family, mugwort has many culinary and medicinal uses throughout Europe and the Far East, and has been ascribed with magical properties.

While I cannot vouch for its fanciful characteristics, I do believe that a steaming bowl of shiruko can comfort the soul and lift the spirits. If that isn't magic, I don't know what is.

Mugwort
Mugwort

Shiruko - Adapted from the Taste of Zen recipe, with the addition of my own touches.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

2 - 7 1/2 - 8 ounce cans cooked and sweetened red azuki beans* (they should not be drained nor rinsed)
6 cups cold, filtered water

Granulated sugar (optional to taste)
4 kirimochi* (hard rectangular rice cakes)
Pinch of salt
A few pinches of dried mugwort* (optional)


Method

Combine azuki beans in a large saucepan with water and salt. Taste for sweetness. Add more sugar if not sweet enough to your preferences. Bring saucepan contents to slow simmer over low heat. Skim off any foam that might collect on the surface with a mesh skimmer.

In meantime, heat square waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions. When ready, place 1 kirimochi carefully in very center of each waffle cell. It will take about 15 minutes before they are flattened, shaped, and crusty. Remove to a plate to let cool before separating.

Divide hot bean broth into 4 bowls. Top each with 1 waffle mochi. Carefully spoon some azuki beans onto waffle. Pinch a touch of dried mugwort on each waffle and in the soup. Serve immediately with chopsticks, and a spoon to collect any leftovers.

* Kirimochi; azuki beans, dried, canned sweetened and unsweetened; and powdered mugwort are easily found in better Japanese markets. A suitable Western substitute for the azuki would be canned light red kidney beans or small red or pink beans with at least 1 cup sugar. Cooked white sushi rice could be used in place of the kirimochi.

This recipe is for Lisa and Jackie of Tinned Tomatoes, the creators and co-hosts of NCR, this very long-running event featuring vegetarian soup and salad recipes.

I'm also sending this to Simona, hosting MLLA 31, another long-running and popular event. Although NCR just closed for this month, Simona will be welcoming your legume recipes through the 31st.

And I've just learned of another fun event by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. Her Souper (Soup, Salad and Sammies) Sundays run every week and are a great and easy way to share a bite that you've probably prepared more often than you think. Who doesn't make at least one soup, or salad, or sandwich in a week's time?

Been There, Done That ~
Chinese Steamed Red Bean Buns
Agedofu with Dipping Sauce
Japanese Corn Cream Soup

Other People's Eats ~
Red Bean Mochi from Christine's Recipes
Chewy and Sweet Red Bean Mochi from Eating Out Load
Moffles from Just Hungry

13 comments:

  1. What an interesting dessert! So original.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. all your pics are so drool worth Susan. I was going through all the tarts and desserts!! Awesome!

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  3. Good morning, Susan. Makes me wish I had some mochi for breakfast!

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  4. How exotic! And geometric :) Reminds me a bit of noughts and crosses!

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  5. Having just survived my first battle with mochi, I applaud your idea of using the waffle iron, though that would not have served my need. I love the photo: at first sight, the soup reminds me of hot chocolate, but then the mugwort on the surface tells me it is something different. I also like the color of the bamboo mat.

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  6. Stunning. And just from the ingredients I can tell I'd love this. I only recently stumbled on a recipe for mochi but now that I read about how temperamental it is, I think I need to proceed with caution! ;) Using the waffle iron is ingenious.

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  7. mugwort, mochi waffles and sweet red bean soup sounds like magic to me - how creative of you - it just looks so beautiful and intriguing

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  8. Just read about mochi waffles somewhere else, too, so this is a sign we'll have to try these very very soon! These are incredible looking!

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  9. You know what, I want to see all the ingredients in your pantry. I thought I have too many but you use different things every time. I am amazed. Looks very good even though I have no clue where to get all the ingredients.

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  10. Gorgeous! I have had a variation on this soup but have never tried making it. Wonderful job. Thank you for sharing it at Souper Sundays--hope you come back and join us again. ;-)

    Aloha,

    Deb

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  11. Thanks, Rosa.

    Sharmi - Thanks. Although this blog is broad in its recipes, I do have enough of a selection of sweets. : )

    Hi, Meg. I knew this was something your tastes would like.

    Sra - Exotic is always the other guy's food. ; ) In Japan, mochi and red beans of all kinds are enjoyed on a daily basis.

    Simona - Thank you. If you're not accustomed to working with mochi, it can be a challenge. The traditional Japanese way to make it would try the patience and strength of most folks.


    Ricki - Thanks. Mochi has a mind of its own. Since I'm a novice at it, a uniform grilling with a waffle iron was my best choice. It's often grilled on an open grid over coals or a heat coil. I saw a waffle iron on YouTube, but it was a promotional video, and I didn't want to market it on my post.

    Akheela - Thank you. This is not typically found outside of Far Eastern circles.

    Thanks, Johanna. It was a lot of fun to prepare and style.

    Hi, Manju. Thanks. A waffle iron does make grilled mochi look its best.

    Champa - My insatiable curiosity gets me every time. My pantry is overstocked with everything, although I try to buy small quatities of ingredients which I suspect I won't use very often. The mochi, red beans, and mugwort were all purchased in a Japanese supermarket near my home. These items are very rarely found outside specialty grocers.

    Hi, Deb! Thank you. Souper Sundays was fun. I expect to join again in the near future.

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  12. How have I not seen your blog before?!! Its love at first sight :)

    Glad to follow you!

    Zenobia
    rawgirlinmumbai.blogspot.com

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