Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Japanese Cravings: Satisfied!

Yes, I know I promised you more Korea pics. However, my bank holiday weekend was rather action-packed (a wedding on Saturday, inaugurating outdoor swimming season on Sunday, attending a concert in Salzburg last night and taking the early train back to Vienna this morning) and selecting and editing photos takes time. In the meantime, let me share my current obsession that also was sparked off in Korea. 
You might know that I have a thing for certain Japanese food, for umeboshi onigiri and all things containing matcha in particular. I actually have really intense cravings for these things and if I was allowed to only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would definitely be umeboshi onigiri, no joke. The combination of the "bland" rice with sour umeboshi and crisp seaweed is the perfect marriage of taste and textures in my book. I realise that umbeboshi are an acquired taste and only appeal to people who love sour/acidic food as much as I do. As a kid, I was addicted to unripe apples and plums...need I say more? I'm aware that it sounds rather pretentious to claim to love an "exotic" dish best of all - a bit like those annoying people who say they dream in a foreign language after two weeks of living abroad - but that just happens to be the way it is. My second favourite combo, if I were allowed two meals would be a pumpkinseed roll filled with goat cheese and rocket leaves. Drool! Back to my Japanese cravings. Korea is apparently famous for seasoned toasted seaweed and I picked up a sixpack (sharing with my cousin) in duty free at Incheon airport when we flew back to Frankfurt. This purchase, together with my disappointment in not finding umeboshi onigiri in Korea made me stop by the Japanese supermarket in Vienna and stock up on my favourite pickled fruit. On Saturday, I finally had enough time to plug in my rice cooker and make rice the proper Japanese way, following these instructions. It really is worth it if you value perfectly cooked rice and have some time to spare. Then I just casually made a "sushi roll", not caring whether it looked perfect or pretty - it was about the taste, rather than the looks:

You get the idea. If you feel inspired, make sure to wet your fingers in vinegar-water (I use rice vinegar, but a squirt of any other vinegar with minimal flavour will do, too) before handling the rice as it will be very sticky. If you don't eat the rolls or onigiri right away, don't add the seaweed yet as it will get soft immediately and lose its nice crispiness.
My other craving was for the red bean green tea frappuccino I had at Starbucks in Korea. Mmmmhmmmm! Unfotunately, any red bean combos are only available at Starbucks in Far East Asia. I decided to recreate that goodness and while I was shopping for the umeboshi, picked up some sweetened red beans at the Japanese supermarket. So these are all the ingredients I used, soy milk, agave syrup, matcha powder and red bean paste:

I mixed a level tablespoon of matcha with a glass of soy milk as well as a tablespoon of the syrup in my blender, then poured it into my super-duper geeky transparent Starbucks tumbler. I then added quite a bit of crushed ice and topped it with red bean paste (about 1.5 tablespoons)
Actually, I'd rather have the beans, than a paste and will try to find that at the Japanese supermarket next time. This stuff tastes nice and is quite cheap, but doesn't look like the real thing. I know, I'm a perfectionist when it comes to food presentation... Speaking of which, this photo doesn't do the deliciousness justice, but trust me, my homemade frappuccino was very delicious: 


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