The FooDorama Challenge: I Watch it… I Try it!

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Jdorama Inspiration: Saigo No Yakusoku

Saigo No Yakusoku (The Last Promise) is a tanpatsu type of drama (movie made for TV) shown on the 9th of January, 2010 on Fuji TV.  It is a story of five young men who happened to be in the same building on a day when it was taken over by a mysterious terrorist-like group. It stars the five Arashi members:

From Left to Right: Sho as a barista in a coffee stand; Nino as the building’s security systems technician; Jun as a courier; Aiba as an insurance salesman; and Ohno as a hired custodian.

It also stars Kuroki Meisa and Kitamura Yukiya.

Saigo no Yakusoku is a quintessential Arashi movie, purposely made to make their fans happy. Even if it had a predictable ending, I still enjoyed watching it.

Jdorama Food: Shiruko

Shiruko (also called oshiruko) or Red Bean Soup is a sweet soup made of azuki beans. It is usually served with mochi, a Japanese glutinous rice cake. It is a favorite comfort food among Japanese usually taken during winter and the New Year.

The FooDorama Connection: Having heard that the building has a vending machine that sells delicious red bean soup, Nozomu (Matsujun) boldly invites Yuriko (Meisa) outside for a hot cup of shiruko. Even if she is the company president’s daughter with a busy schedule and he’s a delivery guy she hardly knows, she accepts his invitation. *But who can blame her? It’s Matsujun!*

Matsujun’s ready-made, hot shiruko from a vending machine

The FooDorama Challenge: Seeking Comfort in Shiruko

I looked at the recipes of shiruko, and it seems to me that it isn’t such a difficult thing to do. And azuki beans are more like the common mung beans (munggo) that we Pinoys use (for porridge, buchi, hopia and halo-halo) and is readily available in the market.  Case in point: azuki bean’s scientific name is vigna angularis while mung bean is vigna radiata which for me it means they slightly differ only in shape but taste is more or less the same… which brings me to the question: Should I use mung beans instead?

I mentally debated about buying the real azuki beans or not. Since it is not a challenge if I don’t go for authenticity, I decided to buy the real thing. But…

Anak ng -! Ang mahal naman! E, parang munggo lang ito ah?!: Oh boy, azuki beans (left) are so expensive, I admittedly had moments of uncertainty and regret. Oh, well. It is for the sake of the challenge though. So GO!

I only bought one package. I resolve to conserve it as much as possible so I could use it for other future FooDorama recipes as well. Hee-hee.

I soaked the red beans in water overnight, then, boiled them the following day.  I only placed a considerable amount of brown sugar since I am not really fond of sweets. What came out was this red bean paste they call anko (at right).  This could also be used for daifuku, or –for me- good enough to spread on crackers for a light snack.

To make the soup, I used half a cup of anko and 2 cups of water, adjusting it with either more anko or sugar. As mentioned, it should be serve with mochi.  But now this time, I draw the line here. Instead of buying mochi, I decided to use our own glutinous rice cake, tikoy (nian-gao in Chinese), because it’s basically the same thing but cheaper (and since this was during the Lunar New Year, tikoys were abundant in the stores).

I sliced the cake into small squares and toasted them in the toaster oven for 10 minutes. Afterwards, I placed 1 to 2 tikoy squares in a bowl and pour the hot soup over it:

FooDorama Challenge #3 is done: Shiruko for Lunar New Year 2010! It is best served with something sour and/or salty like umeboshi (on the saucer in the above pic) which they say are pickled ‘plums’ but are actually related to apricots.

The sweetness was just right. I could understand why Japanese are fond of this dessert. There was something soothing about it like a comforting, hazy memory from childhood. It was that good! And to think that I wasn’t fond of tikoy, too. The only way we Pinoys commonly prepare it is to soak tikoy in beaten egg and fry it which can get to be awfully boring.  Shiruko is certainly another better way to serve tikoy. And the contrasting sour/salty taste of umeboshi was an outstanding match! I loved it!

I will certainly try this again. But I’ll go for the practical and inexpensive version: use red mung beans instead of azuki beans; buy Chinese pickled plums rather than umeboshi; and of course, still try tikoy in lieu of mochi.

Shiruko maybe new in my household but for me it’s destined to be a sweet classic.

Next on The FooDorama Challenge:
FDC#4: Okonomiyaki! (Jdorama Inspiration: Hana Kimi)
Previous FooDorama Challenges:
FDC #2: Takoyaki (Jdorama Inspiration: Gokusen)
FDC #1: Yakiniku (Jdorama Inspiration: Kekkon Dekinai Otoko)

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Recipe Sources: japanesefood.about, japaneserecipesinusa
Shiruko info source: wikipedia
Azuki beans info source: wikipedia
Umeboshi info source: wikipedia
Jdorama info source: fujitv
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