If you have never attempted making Japanese sweets, Dorayaki is perfect for beginners (like me): quite easy, fast, and close to a pancake. It will be a pleaser, so sweet, and delicious!
If you're in pitch blackness, all you can do is sit tight until your eyes get used to the dark ― Haruki Murakami,
My love for Japan started many years ago.
As a kid I loved spending some of my free time watching Japanese anime and manga (cartoons) on Tv. I was mesmerized by the colors, the songs, the characters. I was intrigued by the beautiful large eyes and the lively, colorful and uniquely styled hair. I was enthrolled by the stories: I felt transported into a different world and waited for those Tv episodes with impatience. As a grown-up I lost myself in the reading of Japanese writers: Yukio Mishima, Natsume Soseki, Banana Yoshimoto, and my favorite, Haruki Murakami: I love that in-between world of realism and fable that permeates his books. In my mid-twenties, and for five years, I practiced and loved a Japanese martial art, Aikido, forced to stop by an ankle injury. In the years I was practicing Aikido, I became familiar with many Japanese words and terms and that led to my interest in Japanese language. I home studied a bit of Hiragana (the Japanese sillabary), some calligraphy and some basic speaking. Later on I started collecting prints (Ukiyo-e) and scrolls, some wood dolls (Kokeshi) and some pottery that are scattered throughout my apartment in Rome and some followed me and found place in our home in Edmonton.
With Loreto we often talk about our plans to go to Japan, being appraisers of Japanese food and art. In the meantime, during our travels, we like to stroll along the graceful and tranquil Japanese Gardens of every city we visit. In Edmonton we often visit the Kurimoto Japanese Garden and every year we attend the Spring Festival and enjoy the Tea Ceremony in the Ozawa Pavilion.
Loreto would like to learn how to make sushi, as for me, I like to eat it 🙂 . I am also fascinated by the colorful, unusual, tasty japanese fruits and sweets. Like the Dorayaki, some kind of east-meets-west small pancakes, that are mostly filled with anko, the sweet azuki bean paste, however, custard, chestnuts and cream (matcha, chocolate, cream with fruits, etc) are also popular. They are the favorite food of the Japanese anime character Doraemon, he loves dorayaki, and in every episode he tries to eat a pile of them, usually disturbed by some occurrence.
Making the Dorayaki:
I found a can of azuki beans and thought of making something that looked and tasted kind of like the anko (Tsubuan) paste. Since the most lengthy part is to soak them, covered them with water and cook for hours until they're soft, having the canned beans took all the effort out. I briefly cooked the canned beans with a tiny amount of sugar (they're sweetened), mashed them a bit while they were cooking, and until they were the right consistency (I've read that when you draw a line on the bottom of the saucepan and see the bottom for more than 2 seconds, it's done). It may seem like Anko is simple to make, but a lot of Japanese sweet confectionery artisans have devoted their lives to Anko making, so I don't think I've mastered the recipe, but I was quite happy with the result. It was good enough for my first attempt at Japanese dessert making. You can find the anko paste in an Asian specialty store, but here in Rome it's not that easy to find.
Making the Dorayaki is easy, too, they have few basic ingredients, and it is very similar to making pancakes, but they require some attention: for example, make sure to wipe off all excess oil on the frying pan’s surface if you want to obtain nice golden brown pancakes. If you leave oil streaks on the pan, the pancakes will have some spots. Pay attention also in shaping them, because the two patties in pair, apart from being round, have to be more or less the same size. Practice is the key, I've had a few misshapen pancakes before I could actually sandwich them 🙂 .
Very humbly, bowing in respect, I present you my Japanese inspired production, Dorayaki, Japanese Sweet Filled Pancakes. Good at breakfast, and as a snack for kids and grown-ups. I've frozen some individually and they will be ready for my breakfast or to bring to work.
If you have never attempted making Japanese sweets, Dorayaki is perfect for beginners (like me). It is quite easy, fast, and will be a pleaser, so sweet, and simply delicious! I have already ready a version with chocolate hazelnut spread, yummy! 😉 .
Song of the day: Ryuichi Sakamoto/David Sylvian "Heartbeat".
Recipe for the Anko adapted from "Just One Cookbook".Print
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