Monday, June 28, 2010

Special dishes for Doll festivel (Hinamatsuri)

Hishi-mochi (Diamond-shaped rice cake)

Hishi-mochi is diamond-shaped rice cakes and typically formed from three layers of red (or pink), white, and green mochi, from top to bottom. The red of the mochi are derived from fruits of Gardenia jasminoides , and is symbolic of plum flowers. The white is made from the water caltrop, and represents the snow and its cleansing effects. Finally, the green is from Gnaphalium affine or mugwort like kusa mochi, and is believed to be restoratives that improve the blood.

Depending on region, the red may be substituted with yellow, or the sweet may have 5 or 7 layers instead.

The cake is believed to represent a nature scenery of early spring when green grass starts to grow under white snow while pink blossoms of peach trees come into bloom.

Hina-arare (colored rice cakes)
Hina-arare is colorful rice puffs that are eaten on the Girl’s Festival. Each color of puffs represents special meaning–white is earth, red is life, and green is trees–and is believed to provide energy to those who eat them so that they can drive out their misfortune and disease.

Shiro-zake (Sweet white sake)
Shiro-zake is made of mirin or shochu (distilled liquor from wheat or potato) mixed with steamed glutinous rice or rice malt. It is fermented for about a month and then lightly grinded to finish. Shiro-zake is cloudy white and contains about 9% alcohol. It has 45% sugar and is considered a liqueur by Japanese liquor tax law. Shiro-sake is often confused with Ama-zake (sweet sake), which has almost no alcohol content, but it is made of cooked rice or porridge mixed with rice malt, and then simmered to turn starch into sugar. Ama-zake is akin to a soft drink, so to speak, and is completely different than Shiro-zake.

Shirozake is believed to purify the body of those who drink it as pure as its color.

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