What are Wagashi? Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets usually served with green tea. Most of the ones I made here are in the Nerikiri style. Traditional Nerikiri Wagashi are soft and smooth. They are made by hand from rice flour and white beans and are often filled with red bean paste. Wagashi are made to represent the seasons.
What are my imitations? I decided to make food that looks like Wagashi but are really savory food. My bird, flower, and balls on a stick are cheddar cheese mashed potatoes. Green has finely chopped fresh spinach leaves. Yellow has tumeric. Red has tomato paste. Purple has Butterfly Pea Flower powder.
Why I made these? Inspired by Fukuyadou Honpo (Kyoto Love Story) drama I watched on Amazon Prime in the winter. The drama is set in Kyoto at a traditional Japanese sweet shop. I only have a little experience eating actual Wagashi and not the Nerikiri type I imitated here. I used one potato and ate these as part of my dinner.
How to make? Probably the most difficult part is getting the mashed potatoes the correct consistency to shape by hand. I got lucky with these (I did not add butter or milk). But I have experience with shaping mashed potatoes. The strawberry is covered with Greek yogurt. I also include a spinach pancake leaf with potato ladybug at the end of this post.
My Spring Potato Wagashi Set:
Bird – Cheddar mashed potatoes with Butterfly Pea Flower powder, candy eye
Hanami Dango – Green – cheddar mashed potato mixed with finely chopped fresh spinach leaves, White – cheddar mashed potato, Pink – cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, wooden skewer cut to size
Flower – Cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, Center of Flower- cheddar mashed potato with tumeric, Leaf – spinach. Use the side of a chopstick to press into a mashed potato ball to make the petals. Make an indent in the center with the larger end of a chopstick.
Strawberry Daifuku – Strawberry dipped in plain Greek yogurt. Freeze.
Leaf with Ladybug – Leaf – pancake with finely chopped raw spinach, cheddar mashed potato ball, Ladybug – cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, black sesame seeds, black food coloring
Dishes: The small leaf and flower plates are from Natural Kitchen (100 Yen store in Japan).
I enjoyed making this Wagashi set for spring. I am already thinking about ideas for the other seasons.
Wow! Your work is amazing! My husband is 3rd generation Japanese so I’m familiar with what you were talking about. Thanks for sharing!