Unlike the Western world, in Japan, dessert at the end of a meal is a very rare custom. Not only should the dessert menu not be expected to be offered after a dinner in a Japanese restaurant, but tarts or creamy cakes should also be forgotten. THE typical Japanese sweets they embody a completely different way of experiencing and enjoying pastry.
The culture of Wagashi (the term refers to traditional Japanese pastry) handed down from generation to generation recipes of sweets with surprising colors, shapes and textures. Nothing to do with what we are used to enjoying in Italy and the rest of Europe.
As with us, sweets were undoubtedly part of the daily diet of the ancient Japanese, but originally, these desserts were eaten simply as accompaniment during the traditional tea ceremony. Prepared in single-portions, they were nothing more than small tastings with the purpose, rather than satiating, of teasing and inspiring.
The origins of the Wagashi they date back to the Yayoi period (300 BC-300 AD), when the sweet part of the diet consisted of fresh fruit, dried fruit and berries. From 710 onwards (what historians refer to as the Nara period), Japan began to be influenced by China and Buddhism, tea and even sweets. In this period, the techniques for making sweets based on rice flour were born; a fundamental component for Japanese pastry today. It is only during the Muromachi era (1336-1573), when the Japanese established trade contacts with the Portuguese, that I made it part of the daily use ingredients. However, the Japanese gastronomic culture had already formed and consolidated, and there was no need to insert a new ingredient in traditional recipes.
The ingredients of typical Japanese sweets are therefore almost entirely of vegetable origin, such as glutinous rice, roasted soy, red kidney beans, and matcha. In recipes, sugar almost never appears, and its low use causes wagashi to be of moderate sweetness overall. These desserts give astrange and unusual taste experience: to our palate they can in fact seem too tasty, a little strange, sometimes rubbery; but no less good for this.
Defining Japanese cuisine as an art is not a gamble: for all dishes, the eye also wants its part. And the desserts are no exception. The preparation of the desserts is in fact treated in detail, not only as regards the flavor but also for the shape and color. The neutral bases are modeled and decorated differently according to the recurrences, giving a characteristic imprint to each holiday.
The names of these desserts are all inspired by nature and ancient literature. The most traditional way to consume a Japanese dessert is inside a bar or in one of the many bakeries, usually away from meals.
In the gallery you can find 10 typical Japanese sweets to make your mouth water.