Pink, Sakura, Onigiris
A walk down the alley behind my house and an encounter with the prettiest shades of pink.
I remember watching the Japanese film “Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit” (a rather grim story), and it said how cherry blossoms have to ability to make everyone happy.
I think this is it.
Just like happiness, I can never get enough.
And what better way to appreciate this cascade of petals than to enjoy some pink sweets and bentos? Those of us who can’t find edible cherry blossoms in local stores but have a penchant for pink things will have to find other ways to indulge ourselves. Sakura denbu is a popular choice. But I was also thinking about making these too…
Red Bean Onigiris
I saw a red bean rice recipe that is eaten for celebratory occasions in the cookbook Basic Japanese Cuisine. Bento-obsessed, my first thought was to modify it for making onigiris.
- 180mL glutinous rice (yields about 3 onigiris)
- 30mL dried red beans
- pinch of toasted sesame seeds
- pinch of salt
The onigiris derive their subtle colour from the Azuki red beans. You can easily find this type of bean at your local Asian markets, either dried or canned. Make sure you get the dried ones!
Wash and drain glutinous rice; set aside. Add red beans to a big pot of water, bring to boil, and drain. Add 300mL of water to red beans and bring to boil again. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and drain. Remember to keep the liquid: it is what makes the rice pink.
In a ricecooker, soak glutinous rice with the cooking water you just saved for 30 minutes. Stir in red beans and cook rice as usual. In general, you will need about 250mL of liquid to cook the rice. Depending on how pink you want the rice, you can adjust the ratio between the red bean water and plain water. For my onigiris, I used approximately 200mL of the red bean water and substituted the remaining 50mL with plain water.
When rice is done, let it cool a bit and shape it into onigiris. Add a dash of salt and sesame seeds. Enjoy with your favourite bento treats, under sakura blossoms.