For some reason I am in love with sakura flavored stuff this year. In past years I didn’t give sakura flavoring the time of day. Probably because sakura season is during allergy season so I don’t participate in all of the hoopla. No picnics for me. I think I have only done it twice in my eight years here.
In the picture:
1. Sakura green tea
2. Sakura salt
3. Sakura macaroons
4. Sakura umeshu
5. Sakura bean paste
6. Pancakes topped with sakura bean paste
7. Sakura rice mix
For some reason I am somewhat obsessed with sakura flavor this year. This is my eighth sakura season but the first time I have been interested in sakura flavored anything. I asked on Facebook and Twitter about the best flavoring to use and was told that the flavor is in the leaves, which are preserved in salt and need to be rinsed well. I bought both the leaves and the flowers (also preserved in salt) as well as some extract but it smells too floral. I decided to make sakura an (bean paste) and put in on pancakes (see above picture). I replaced 1/2 cup of the flour in the pancakes with kinako powder (soy bean powder) to make them match better with bean paste. I added a preserved sakura flower on top (rinsed with boiling water as they are very salty).
Apparently it takes a little while for the flavor to come out so I made the bean paste the night before. Many visitors to Japan don’t really like bean paste because it is sickly sweet. The great thing about making it yourself is that you can control the sweetness. I put just enough sugar to make it sweet but not so sweet that I couldn’t eat is as part of my breakfast.
Sakura Bean Paste
1 cup cooked white beans
1 preserved sakura leaf
enough water to puree the beans
sugar to taste
red food coloring
Rince the sakura leaf in boiling water to remove most of the salt. Puree the beans and the sakura leaf in a food processor adding only as much water as necessary to get a smooth paste. Blend in sugar to taste and add a bit of red food coloring to get that nice pink color (if desired). Let sit overnight for the flavour to blend.