Little thrills, little trips, little ideas


My Humble Wagashi Creations

Ever since my first wagashi (Namagashi, to be specific) class in Kanazawa in April, I have been spellbound by the beautiful creations made by wagashi masters, the meaning behind different wagashi for each season and their purpose in festivals and tea ceremonies. Many designs created are usually inspired by Haiku poems.

I finally took up the courage to make wagashi again after my second class in Singapore with ABC cooking studio. However, both classes, the wagashi pastes were pre-prepared. I had to do some research on my own to create the paste from scratch without the original white bean (or navy bean) which is found only in Japan. I used lima beans as a substitute. Its a long process but through this, I learnt to appreciate the art of making wagashi even more. So here are some of my humble creations for summer.

Summer Peach

Chrysanthemum in full bloom

Love Birds

Summer wagashi


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Hubby Bento #15 – Shredded Stewed Pork & Baked Quinoa Capsicum Bowl
This super-sleek bento box, similar to a shokado box, has been sitting in my cupboard for a while. Its still brand new, comes in 2-tier, its size is perfect for packing a mini-pinic for  2 -3 persons. The second tier box has 9 pretty little compartment trays that can be easily removed or configured to your needs.

For today, I have used the top-tier only since its for my husband lunch box. Each compartment became a palette for my food arrangement.

Main Compartment:
Shredded Stewed Pork Loin in Spiced red wine sauce with potato slices and chicken rice
(red wine sauce not shown in the picture)

Compartment 1:
Quinoa stuffed baked capsicum and daikon flowers

Compartment 2:
Simmered celery and daikon
Steamed prawns

Shredded Pork Loin Stew in Spiced red wine sauce with potato slices and chicken rice
I prepared the Pork Loin Stew a day ahead.
Ingredients: 4 pieces of pork loin with bones, half a bottle of red wine, 2 celery stalks, 1/2 daikon (cut in quarters), 1 carrot(cut in quarters), 1 onion (chopped), 2 tablespoons white miso, 1 tablespoon dark rich miso, chicken bones, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise or any other fragrant spices (e.g. fennel seeds, cardamon seeds, etc), veal or chicken or vegetable stock.

Chop all the vegetables and marinate together with the pork loin in red wine for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain the red wine marinate and put aside. Coat the pork loin with flour and brown it in a pan with little oil. The flour will prevent the meat juices from seeping out. Place the pork loin in a heavy crockpot. Using the leftover oil in the same pan which is used to brown the loin, stir fry the vegetables until onion is soft and transfer them to the crockpot without the oil. Throw in the spices and miso pastes. Pour in the red wine marinate until it covers all the ingredients (If its not enough, pour in the stock). Cook it for 90mins to 120mins covered. Constantly replenish the liquid level in the pot with the stock. The meat will easily tear off the bones.

Season the stew with salt and pepper. Thicken the sauce with some potato flour or corn flour.

Boil some potato as a side. If you do not have chicken rice, you can use white rice or eat it without the rice.

Quinoa stuffed baked capsicum and daikon flowers
I was looking for ways to prepare the leftover capsicum in my fridge and I found this nice recipe with quinoa stuffing.
Ingredients: Capsicum (I used mini capsicum in this picture) cut the top, 1/4 to 1/2 cup quinoa, 1 bacon strip, some chopped celery, onion and basil leaves, mashed potato, vegetable broth

Preheat the oven at 160 – 180°C. Remove the seeds in the capsicum. Cook the quinoa with  water or any stock you like for 15 mins to 20 mins. Drain the quinoa. Saute the bacon, onion and celery in a little olive oil for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the drained quinoa and some basil. Fill each capsicum bowl with the quinoa filling and 1 or 2 spoonful of vegetable broth. Cover the top with mashed potato. Bake them for about 15 -20 mins or until the capsicum skin starts to wrinkle a little (which means the sugar in the flesh has been released) and the potato crust turn slightly crispy.

Simmered celery and daikon
Ingredients: Japanese Daikon (1/2 inch slices), celery, vegetable broth (1/2 to 3/4 cup), mirin and sake (1 – 1 1/2 tsp each)
Use any flower cookie shape cutter to cut a hole in the centre of each thick slice of daikon. Neatly place celery strips cut to equal lengths in the hollow section of the daikon. Put them in a small pot with the stock, mirin and sake and simmer over low fire. Constantly spoon the broth over the celery and daikon until they are just cooked.

Steamed prawns
Simply steam the prawns with 1 garlic clove crushed and some basil leaves.