I’d like to introduce you another Japanese ingredient. It’s called ‘kinako’ which literally means ‘yellow powder’. This is made from roasted, ground soy beans and has a slight sweetness. Sadly I have never seen this in shops in the UK, however, you can get this online (I know Japan Centre sells this)
I had some kinako sent from Japan last year and had kept it in my cupboard without using it. When I have a special ingredient like this I tend to keep saving it for later and later, thinking ‘for some special occasions etc…’ Then I end up not using it for ages, look at the expiry date and finally decide to use it.
Kinako is different from soy flour that you see in this country. As kinako is roasted it has completely different flavour (slight sweetness), colour (yellow) and texture from soy flour. I know soya is one of the controversial foods that many people have problems consuming. However, grown up in Japan and eaten soya regularly for more than 20 years, I never had a problem. To me, soya is such a nutritious food and it’s a shame that many people can’t consume or avoid eating it. I was always told by my parents that ‘soya is meat from the garden’ meaning its nutritional value is as great as meat. Soya has got complete essential amino acids like meat does. Other plant foods like quinoa and hemp have these amino acids also, but not so many plant foods do. I see there are issues with GM soya, digestive or hormonal problem though. Probably my body is more immune to soya than western peoples’, or Japanese soya beans are different from the ones here.
I used unrefined cane sugar but you can use other type of sugar like coconut palm sugar or stevia. I don’t have coconut palm sugar in my cupboard anymore, as in most of my cooking I use fresh fruits, dried fruits or other natural liquid sweeteners such as maple syrup or carob syrup. And coconut sugar is expensive. I never buy white sugar because I feel my body recognizes the kick of the sweetness and I don’t like it. Although stevia is a natural sugar from plants, I don’t like the sweetness, either.
A very small amount of sugar is used in this recipe (or you can use even less!) and I do not worry too much. Coconut sugar is said to be healthier than any other types of sugars but it is still a sugar. So the key I think is we enjoy a moderate amount of any sweeteners as long as you and your body are happy. If you are eating it, enjoy it!
For the agar jelly
1 tbsp arrowroot powder with a little extra water
2g powdered agar agar
For the kinako topping
Unrefined cane sugar (or other type of your choice)
Maple syrup (optional)
1. In a cup mix the arrowroot powder with the little water so you don’t see the powder any more.
2. In a sauce pan put the agar and water. Start heating up with medium heat as you stir it.
3. When you start to see tiny bubbles, add the arrowroot mixture. (Give the mixture another stir just before you add it to the pan, as the solid part separates from water very quickly)
4. Keep stirring, turning the heat down to low, for a few minutes. The mixture is now a little thicker. Pour it in a heat resistant container (I used a glass baking dish), leave it to set at room temperature and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
5. To make the kinako mixture, simply mix kinako and a little sugar. I used the ratio of kinako:sugar=5:1.
6. Take the jelly out of the fridge, cut it into the shape you like and coat each piece with kinako mixture. Drizzle some maple syrup as optional. The more the kinako mixture the moreish it gets. Yummy!