The FooDorama Challenge: I Watch It, I Try It!

平和 (★´3`)ノ.☆.・∴.・☆:*・∵.:*・☆.。.:*, :*・∵.:☆.。

Jdorama Inspiration: Hotaru no Haka

The live action version of Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies) was a tanpatsu (movie made for TV) that was shown on November 1, 2005 on NTV.  Based on a novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, Hotaru no Haku was first made into a critically acclaimed animated movie in 1988. The story, set in World War II, is a heart-breaking tale of a brother and sister who were orphaned and taken under the care of a distant aunt.  The harsh realities and hopelessness caused by the cruelties of war inevitably affected everyone and thus, led the the two siblings to go and fend for themselves which ultimately brought about tragic and unfortunate consequences.

It would be better to see the 1988 movie before you watch the jdorama version.  A lot of people liked the original much better than the newer version – mainly because they disliked the auntie (played by Matsushima Nanako in the live action version) so much they prefer not to see her side of the story (which wasn’t implied in the animated movie).  The 2005 version tried to point out that it is understandable if people do make cruel, apathetic decisions and acts just to protect those who are precious to them in times of war. Both versions still showed a clear message though: war may bring out the best as well as the worst in us, and let’s hope and pray that something like this will never ever happen again.

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” ~Bertrand Russell: Seita (Ishida Hoshi) and Setsuko (Sasaki Mao) try to stay alive during the war (above left); At right are their animated counterparts from the 1988 movie.

Jdorama Food: Sekihan

Sekihan or red bean rice is a traditional Japanese dish that is made of steamed glutinous rice and azuki beans.  The rice gets its red color from the water used from boiling the beans.  Red is a color associated with ‘happiness’ or driving away evil vibes in Japan; that is why, sekihan is served during celebrations like birthdays and holidays.

The FooDorama Connection: At the start of the TV movie, the husband of the auntie was called to serve in the war and will be leaving on that day. For his going-away party, the aunt cooks a big batch of sekihan which excited her two daughters for they hadn’t eaten anything as luxurious as sekihan since the war started.  Above shows the elder daughter Natsu (played by Inoue Mao) scolding her sisters, reminding them that their father’s departure is not something to rejoice about.

The sekihan in the TV movie being cooked in a wooden steamer.

Another jdorama that featured sekihan:

Smile (TBS, 2009): In episode 2, Hayakawa Bito (Matsumoto Jun), helps make and deliver sekihan to an elementary school.  Unaware that the rice in the sekihan was tainted with pesticide, Bito later finds out about the mass poisoning of the students through the TV news (above right).

The FooDorama Challenge: Sekihan for My Dad’s Birthday!

We Pinoys are no strangers when it comes to glutinous rice cakes (like biko and bibingka) which we also serve during special occasions, and occasionally as an afternoon snack.  However, ours have coconut milk and sugar so they’re sweeter and goes well with strong coffee.  So when I read the ingredients for sekihan – I naturally went: What? No sugar? WTH will it taste like?

Having doubts about it, I still went ahead with this recipe for my dad’s birthday, using whatever that was left from the expensive azuki beans that I used for shiruko (FDC#3).

To make Sekihan: I used half a cup of the beans and soaked them overnight in water.  Then, I boiled them with two cups of water for less than an hour, making sure they weren’t totally cooked yet.

Then, I placed the washed uncooked rice in the rice cooker, along with three cups of water (a portion of which came from the reddish water used for boiling the beans).  I also placed the semi-cooked beans in it and some salt and let it sit for an hour. Lastly, I turned on the rice cooker until the sekihan was ready.

onigiri sekihan

Sekihan for FDC#9 is done! You can mold the sekihan into round or triangular shapes (onigiri) if you like. 🙂

What did this biko-loyalist, Pinay amateur cook think of the taste? Hmm, as I said, I had my doubts but I decided to give it a chance.  I tried it with sesame seeds and salt (as stated in the recipe) but I wasn’t satisfied with it, and was only able to eat a few amount. I even tried store bought furikake (condiment used for rice) with it but I still found it lacking. The rice and beans tasted well together but I just blame my stubborn taste buds which is too used to eating rice cakes the way we usually make them… hence, I found my hand reaching up into the shelf to get the sugar jar….

sekihan with sugar

Topped with brown sugar and sesame seeds, this sekihan is much better and more satisfying for me.  And I did find out that in some parts of Japan (like in Tsugare and Iwate), they do use sugar to sweeten their sekihan. ^_^ V

sekihan for dad

This sugar-topped sekihan is for my dad who celebrated his birthday today! Happy, happy birthday to my dear old Dad!

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Postscript (★´3`): Btw, my sekihan turned out too dark (it was more like brown, not red) so my advice is to lessen the amount of the “red” water and use more clear water for the one you’ll use to cook rice with – that is, if you want a lighter red or pinkish colored rice.  (★´3`) Also, if you are a beginner, it is better to experiment with smaller amounts first (like 2 cups of rice and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of beans) and see if you like it.  If you do, you can make more next time. (★´3`) And lastly, of course, I don’t discount the traditional way of putting salt – but if you are watching your health and on a low-salt diet, I think brown or muscuvado sugar could be a tasty and healthier alternative.

^*・’゚☆。.:*:・’☆’・:*:.。 ~piisu~fireflies!~ v (゚▽゚)ノ.:*:・’゚:*:・’゚☆

My FooDorama Challenge Links:
FDC#10: Agedashi Tofu (Jdorama Inspiration: Jin)
FDC#8: Kareh Raisu (Jdorama Inspiration: Kaibutsu-kun)
FDC#7: Zaru Soba (Jdorama Inspiration: Attention Please)

———————————- fodocha

Sekihan info source: wikipedia (English), wikipedia (Japan)
Recipe sources: japanesefood.about, recipezaar
Jdorama info source: dramawiki
Jdorama photo credits: NTV, TBS
Anime photo source: News-Anime
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