Continued from Food Blogger Smart Cookie Challenge Part 2
Food Blogger Smart Cookie Challenge Part 3: Dessert
One of my favorite items at dim sum is a sesame ball, lightly sweetened red bean paste surrounded by supple, chewy deep fried rice dough rolled in nutty toasted sesame seeds. About a year ago, I got the bug to learn to make them myself, which I did more or less successfully. The recipe for the paste made SO much, though, that I couldn’t eat it all, so I ended up freezing half of it. When I first began contemplating this meal, that paste, made from small, red adzuki beans cooked down with brown sugar, was in the back of my mind as something I needed to use before the freezer rendered it inedible. As dim sum is a Chinese tradition, I thought I might make this meal sort of generally Asian rather than specifically Japanese, but then I read an article on making mochi, and that set me off on the search which ultimately led to Daifuku.
Daifuku, like so many things Japanese, is simple and elegant, a layer of soft, luscious mochi filled with sweet, fluffy adzuki paste. The recipe I used for my own paste has gotten lost in the bowels of the internet, apparently, but justonecookbook.com, where I found the instructions for making mochi and assembling the daifuku, has one if you’d like to try your hand at it. Otherwise, you can buy it pre-made if you’re short on time or ambition.
The mochi itself was ridiculously simple to make, particularly as I chose to do the microwave method.
- ¾ cup sweet (or glutinous) rice flour
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup potato starch/corn starch (I used corn)
- 1 ½ cup red bean paste (I didn’t need nearly this much)
1. Combine rice flour and sugar and whisk together.
2. Add water and mix to combine
3. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 1 minute. Stir with a wet silicon spatula. Microwave for 1 more minute, and stir again. Microwave for 30 seconds or until mochi is translucent instead of white.
4. Cover your work surface with parchment paper and dust with potato starch. (I put parchment paper down on a cookie sheet first, as it was easier to keep the roly poly paper in place with the help of a little Scotch tape.)
5. Transfer mochi to the dusted paper and dust mochi with starch. Allow to sit until it’s cool enough to handle. Dust a rolling pin liberally with starch and roll the mochi into a thin sheet.
6. Transfer paper and mochi to a cookie sheet, unless you’ve already taken care of that in step 4, like I did. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set the mochi.
7. Cut mochi into circles (justonecookbook recommends 3.5 inch). Dust excess starch off of one circle with a pastry brush, and place on a small plate covered with plastic wrap. Do the same with the rest of the circles, making sure to put a layer of plastic wrap between every circle.
8. Using a scoop (I like a melon baller, large end; justonecookbook recommends a cookie scoop) place a dollop of red bean paste in the center of the mochi, and bring two sides up to the center and pinch closed. Repeat with other two sides and pinch to make sure all openings are sealed, dust with starch, and set aside.
Repeat with remaining mochi.
Once again, this recipe was not only crazy easy, but it made more than could be eaten at one sitting. Yay, leftovers!
The total cost of this dessert was as follows:
|Daifuku||Rice flour||2 oz||$.25|
|Adzuki beans||1 oz||$.19|
|Corn starch||4 oz||$.12|
|Total per person||$.56|
Adding dessert’s paltry fifty-six cents to the cost of the starter and main brings our total for th entire meal $6.31 per person! If that seems unlikely, given the cost of ingredients when you go to purchase them at the store ($2.29 for a bottle of rice vinegar or $2.99 for a pound of dry adzuki beans, for example.), remember that only a small portion of these items went into this particular meal. Most of them keep for a very long time, some indefinitely, allowing me to stretch their cost over many, many meals. If you’re strapped for cash, I recommend buying one long-lasting item here or there as you can afford to, and before you know it, you will have collected everything you need to create an indulgent meal, one that would easily set you back more than three times that wad of cash if you were to order it out.
Another investment I made in the preparing of this meal was time. Ordering in a restaurant is quick and easy, but if you want to save some serious dough, you’re going to have to put some time into it. Particularly if sushi rice is involved. That alone took nearly two hours, and that’s not counting the time I burned by stopping to take pictures. On the other hand, not only did I have the fun of cooking, but I had leftover Japanese food for days. This meant I spent very little time cooking throughout the rest of the week, and I got to indulge several times in food which is normally a luxury for me. That’s a massive win from where I’m standing!
So when naysayers complain that it’s too expensive to cook at home, don’t you listen to them. If you plan accordingly, and if you shop and cook smart, you can treat yourself to just about any meal for pennies on the dollar.Note: Unless otherwise specified, the recipes used here are not mine, but belong to the bloggers whose pages I have referenced. I may have paraphrased or streamlined instructions to fit my use of them, but I take no credit for the recipes themselves.