Azuki & Matcha Shaved Ice (Uji Kintoki)
By happy coincidence, this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop (themed License to Chill and hosted by The Kitchen Crusader) was announced just as I was considering taking a wee break from gluten free baking to blog about a favourite Japanese summer dessert of mine. As I’m writing this however, I just realised that my dessert is gluten free anyway so all the better!
This summer, the kids and I have been enjoying shaved ice treats courtesy of my Thermomix which turns a tray full of ice cubes into fluffy ice within seconds. Enthused and inspired, I ordered a very cool book from Japan about different shaved ice recipes of which one was for the classic Uji Kintoki, or Red Bean & Green Tea Shaved Ice. Uji refers to a famous green tea producing region in Japan, and Kintoki is another term for red beans (azuki). These two things are often paired up in Japanese recipes and the flavours are definitely a marriage made in sweets heaven!
Before I go on, I should mention that shaved ice desserts (kakigori) in Japan (and variants elsewhere in Asia) are on a completely different level to anything comparable elsewhere. In Australia, we do have snow cones and slushies but neither have the fluffy snow-like consistency which is an absolute requirement of a good kakigori, nor the delectable range of flavours and syrups that differentiates between a good shaved ice cafe and an average one in Japan.
You’d be forgiven thinking that the process of shaving ice is simple but I’ve discovered that the actual ice block itself has to be prepared correctly (clear ice, not cloudy) and shaved by an old-school, hand-cranked machine. My Thermomix isn’t quite as efficient in getting that snowy flakes happening but it doesn’t do a bad job at all either.
For my Uji Kintoki shaved ice, I prepared my own azuki beans, the recipe for which I’ll post separately later. I also made my own matcha syrup which could do with some improvements but the summer’s not over yet! As little accompaniments, I prepared some shiratama mochi balls which are wonderfully chewy and goes nicely with the sweet matcha syrup and red beans. Can’t wait to have another serve this afternoon :)
The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop is brought to you by The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader, 84th & 3rd, The Hungry Australian, and Dining With a Stud. This blog hop is open to all food (and lifestyle) bloggers so join in and post your recipe or creation by Monday the 25th of February.