Off-the-Eaten Path Food Experience in Japan. "Meet the People and Places behind your Plates! "

Saturday 2 January 2016

Kitchen Traveler (1) learning yubeshi, miso stuffed citrus dumpling made in farmhouses

In the ancient eastern asian calendars, toji 冬至, or dongzi  in chinese is a seasonal term of 24 divisions of the solar year, which marks winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

Japanese tastes in-season food, called 'shun' 旬 along the changes of season.
yubeshi柚餅子, citron-flavored steamed dumpling is a preserved food in preparation for winter handed down in families from ancient times.

The process of making yubeshi is recorded in a cooking book titled "Ryori Monogatari" ("Tale of Food"), written in the Edo period.
It is said that samurai or peddlers carried it as portable food.

Mixture of miso, nuts, and spice is stuffed into yuzu, a kind of citrus, steamed and dried for half a year.

miso, citrus, walnuts or peanuts, sansho (japanese pepper), kinako (soy bean powder), mochiko (glutinous rice powder), goma (grained sesame)

for wrapping; straw or japanese paper, thread

ingredients are very different in families.
some yubeshi are sweet and served as confectionary, and some are mainly miso taste, sometimes spicy, served as a complement to sake.
So, you can mix these ingredients as you like.

the step of making yubeshi is following;
(1) mixed ingredients and stuff into yuzu
(2) steam
(3) dried for 3-6months

onigurumi, Juglans mandshurica var. sachalinensis

cutting onigurumi

miso mixed with spice and powder...

then, stuff into yuzu, citrus

yubeshi before steaming

when steamed, the size of citrus becomes small and the miso will swell,
it is better not to over-stuffed, 60% is enough.

after steamed, the yuzu ball becomes springy like a sticky rice cake.
it really reminds me of written term of yubeshi 柚餅子 in Japanese, and each character stands for 柚 yuzu, 餅 sticky rice cake, and 子 child.

then, next step is to wrap yubeshi with straw (wara 藁 in japanese), and dry for several moths.

thread given from grandfather ex-carpenter
wrapping yuzu by straw

yubeshi ready for drying

yubeshi written above can be seen in kansai or hokuriku region,
and in tohoku (north-east) yubeshi stands for wagashi, or japanese confectionary.
this is made by sticky rice mixed with yuzu and walnuts.

yubeshi confectionary seed in tohoku

We are planning to visit remote village in Nara to learn traditional skill to make yubeshi from grandmothers.
Please contact me if interested.