Cherry blossom season in Japan is one of the most spectacular and beautiful times of the year. This recipe for a traditional sweet made around the Tokyo area uses new-season cherry leaves to encapsulate the visual effect of the season in something edible. The balance of the salty pickled leaves and the sweet bean paste, and the chewiness of the pancake are the secrets to this sweet dish.
- 500 g adzuki bean paste
salt-pickled cherry blossom leaves
- 20 young cherry blossom leaves
- 1 cup salt
- 250 ml (1 cup) cold water
- 500 ml (2 cups) water
- 100 g shiratama powder (sweet rice flour) (see Note)
- 140 g sugar
- 180 g plain flour
- red or pink food colouring
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 30 minutes
Pickling time 1 week
You will need to begin this recipe 1 week ahead.
To make the salt-pickled cherry blossom leaves, wash leaves well under running water. Pack in salt and pour over cold water. Refrigerate for 1 week, then rinse well.
To make adzuki paste, see separate recipe.
To make the pancakes, gradually mix the water into the shiratama powder a little at a time. Add in the sugar and plain flour, and mix well. Add in a little red or pink food colouring, and mix until the batter is a very light pink. Stand for 30 minutes.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over very low heat. Place about 1 tbsp of pancake batter in the pan and use the back of a spoon to smooth into a round pancake. Cook for about 30 seconds each side or until the batter is dry but still sticky. Repeat with the remaining the batter.
Roll the azuki paste into small logs and wrap a pancake around each, pinching together one end to secure it. Wrap with a pickled cherry leaf. Repeat with remaining adzuki paste, pancakes and cherry leaves. Serve.
• Shiratama powder is available from Japanese grocers.