Oct 30, 2012

Wagashi basics, shiro an

Shiro an is a basic ingredient for making wagashi, or Japanese tea sweets.  This white bean paste can be colored, hand formed, molded and manipulated and used in many. many different ways to make different kinds of wagashi.

When I was learning to make this, Minako sensei said to make a big batch, because it takes too much work to make just a little bit.  You can divide up the bean paste into smaller, usable batches and  freeze them in individual bags, then thaw just a smaller amount for what you need.  It took me all day to make this batch.

Good bean paste starts with good beans.  I use organic lima beans.  You can use any kind of white beans to start.  Sort and discard any broken, misshapen or discolored beans.  Put them in a large pot or bowl and cover with cold water and soak them overnight.

The next day, when the beans have softened, take the skins off.  I also remove the little nub or sprout because it makes for smoother bean paste.  You can certainly compost the bean skins, or put them in the blender and use them for filler for bread, meatloaf etc.

After you have removed all the skins, put them in a pot and cover with cold water and bring to a simmer over medium heat

As the beans come to a boil, skim off the foam that comes to the top.  When the water comes to a simmer (not full boil), change the water by dipping it out with a plastic container and replacing it with fresh cold water.  Do this 3-4 times or until the water is no longer discolored.  Bring to a simmer, dip out the hot water, replace with cold water.

Continue to simmer until the beans fall apart.  This may take longer than you think it will.

I then pour the bean slush into the blender and pulse it a couple of  times to make sure all the beans are broken up and smooth.  You can also use a food mill, sieve or food processor.

Pour the slush back into the pot or a large bowl and let the bean paste settle. 

You will see the two layers begin to separate after about 10 minutes. Pour off the top layer of discolored liquid, and refill the pot with fresh cold water.

Let the mixture settle and pour off the top layer.  Do this many times.  How many?  Until the top layer becomes clear.  Sometimes I have done it as many as 10 times.  The paste settles faster as the toip layer is poured off with lighter material.  When the top layer is clear, put a muslin jelly bag over a strainer in the sink, (or I just use a clean flour sack towel).  Pour the bean mixture into the bag, drain and then squeeze out or wring as much water as you can.  The more water you can squeeze out, the less time the next step will take. The pste should be dry. Good, now you have unsweetened bean paste called nama an and we are half-way done.

Weigh out the bean paste and return to the pot (without the jelly bag or flour sack towel).

I don't like my sweets too sweet, so I use one third of the weight of the bean paste and measure that amount of sugar.  Put all of the sugar and half of the bean paste in the pot and heat over medium-low  heat stirring constantly.  As the sugar melts, the mixture will get very thin.

When the mixture begins to boil, add the rest of the bean paste.  Keep cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and burning.  It will begin to thicken

Cook over medium heat until the mixture mounds nicely and is not sticky to the touch.  It looks like mashed potatoes. 

The moisture content will var accoring to the ultimate use.  Dryer for molding, stickier for kinton.

Remove from the heat and distribute in small mounds to a well-wrung, damp, lint-free dish towel and cover to cool.

This white bean paste can be frozen for up to 3 months if double wrapped and sealed tightly.

When I thaw the bean paste, I put it in the microwave to thaw and warm it.  To make it pliable and easier to work with, knead in a damp dish towel.  You can then color it, form it, add other ingredients and use with other ingredients to make you favorite wagashi.

Oct 15, 2012

Chado - the way of tea presentation

Chado the way of tea
Presented in the Kashintei Tea House
Portland Japanese Garden

Saturday, October 20
1 p.m. & 2 p.m.|
Included with Garden Admission

Join us in the Tea Garden for a presentation of tea prepared by Kashintei Kai. Chado presentations are offered at the Portland Japanese Garden on the third Saturday of every summer month at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Chado 茶道, the Way of Tea, is the practice of preparing, serving, and drinking Tea. Since the 15th century, it has been a study in preparing a bowl of powdered green tea (matcha 抹茶) as well as incorporating many of the arts of Japan. This elegant yet simple practice reflects the philosophy of the four principles of Tea:

Harmony: Wa
Respect: Kei
Purity: Sei
Tranquility: Jaku

Oct 9, 2012

Conference on Chanoyu

お茶三昧 Ocha Zanmai:
 The 2012 San Francisco International Conference on Chanoyu and Tea Cultures
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Co-sponsored by San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco
in partnership with
The Dilena Takeyama Center for the Study of Japan and Japanese Cultures
Open to the Public
 (18 years of age and above)
9:00-17:30  Keynote Lectures, Presentations, and a Korean Tea Ceremony
San Francisco State University
18:15-21:00 Reception and Banquet
University of San Francisco

This academic conference, which will be held under the joint sponsorship of two universities in the city of San Francisco and the Dilena Takeyama Center for the Study of Japan and Japanese Culture, will be the first ever event of its kind on chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) and tea culture on the West Coast of the United States.  The research presentations and a special Korean tea ceremony will take place during the morning and afternoon of November 10 at San Francisco State University, in the southwestern corner of the city.  Following the conclusion of this program, the University of San Francisco, a private Jesuit university located just north of Golden Gate Park, will host an evening reception and dinner banquet for conference attendees. 

Two renowned specialists have been invited to give keynote lectures: Dr. Asao Kōzu, widely known for his expertise in the history of tea, and Dr. Tamaki Yano, who has gained universal recognition for his research on Kundaikansouchōki, a text dating from the Muromachi period.  Speaking in Japanese, Dr. Kōzu will present a new perspective on the wabi-cha of Sen no Rikyū, while Dr. Yano will deliver his lecture on the records of famous tea objects in English.  Additional presentations by researchers from Japan and the U.S. will treat topics such as calligraphy scrolls, flower arrangement, bamboo baskets, and various aspects of tea ritual. 

The entire program from morning to evening will be open to the general public.  We strongly encourage anyone with an interest in the topic to attend; you need not be affiliated with a tea school or to have ever participated in a tea ceremony.  Please note that we will limit attendees to ages 18 and above.  We have set aside a Q & A session after each presentation, when speakers and experts will entertain questions and comments from the audience.

To encourage the greatest possible number of attendees, we have set the admission fee at very reasonable $10 ($5 for students) for those who pre-register by October 17, and $20 ($10 students) for on-site registrations. We firmly believe that chanoyu’s spirit of sincerity extending between host and guest can transcend borders and contribute to harmony among people all around the world, thereby promoting world peace.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Midori McKeon                                     Stephen John Roddy                     Jon Funabiki                 
Conference Chair and Organizer        Conference Coordinator                Conference Partner
San Francisco State University           University of San Francisco          Dilena Takeyama Center for the
of Japan and Japanese Culture           

For further information, please contact mmckeon@... or 415-338-1346.    

Oct 4, 2012

Sensei Says

The student says, "I am very discouraged about my tea study.  What should I do?"

Sensei says, "Encourage others."

Oct 2, 2012

Introduction to Chado

Don't forget to make your reservations for the Introduction to Chado class, it begins this week.

Call Margie 503-645-7058

Email: margie@issoantea.com