Every year, around the end of March and early April, the cherry blossoms bloom fully in all parts of Japan. The people of the land of the rising sun and countless visitors from all over the world are eager to greedy. attend Hanami Festival – cherry blossom viewing festival.
The gentle, peaceful beauty of cherry blossom petal falling in the wind is always an endless source of inspiration for Japanese artists, especially the salted cherry blossoms, known as the muse of spring cuisine. Therefore, watching the cherry blossoms is not enough, but you definitely have to enjoy this special dish.
Salted cherry blossoms come from the heart of the Japanese people, this is one of the famous ingredients because of the extremely strict and complex processing.
First, cherry blossoms inherently have a short lifespan, so heirloom chefs have to use clear eyes to choose the flowers that have 7 parts blooming and have intact stalks. Cherry blossoms are soaked in apricot vinegar or apricot juice to keep the pink color of the flowers.
Then, the artists gently wash, drain, sprinkle a moderate amount of salt to cover the flowers and incubate overnight for 3-4 weeks. The salt water will be squeezed dry by using your hands to gently compress the water to drain out to keep the petals from being crushed before drying. Finally, the finished product is stored in wooden boxes or glass jars and used for processing and decorating dishes. This method of salting has been passed down for generations with the aim of preserving the unique taste of cherry blossoms throughout the year.
The Japanese love all the dishes made from cherry blossoms, so the salted cherry blossoms have become the quintessential ingredients of Japanese cuisine.
So let’s learn some typical dishes on Hanami festival.
This is a traditional Japanese pastry, pale pink in color, representing cherry blossoms, usually cooked with soft sticky rice, red beans and covered with salted cherry blossoms and leaves. Sakura Mochi has a different shape and style for each region, the Kanto style has a light pink color covered with a sticky red bean paste, the Kansai style is rounded like a ball and steamed by steam. Similar Sakura Mochi can be found at Akebono Ginza or Chomeiji Sakuramochi for around 320 yen.
Sakura Mochi of Kansai
Cherry blossom tea
Tea made from salted cherry blossoms is an indispensable dish in Hanami festival in Japan. The aroma of tea is almost like black tea but still retains the characteristic flavor of the flower. In addition, the Japanese also use green tea mixed with a special salted cherry blossom tea, which has a very mild salty taste. Buy sakura tea at online stores like Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms for 3,000 yen / 100gr.
This sweet promises to be the most anticipated dish in Hanami. The inside contains salted cherry blossoms surrounded by pale pink jelly with a hint of cherry wine. Look for Sakura Jelly at Eitaro – the oldest confectionery in the North of Akita prefecture for 900 yen / box of 3 if you have the opportunity to come to Japan.
The Japanese cherry blossom season is only in full bloom from 7 – 15 days, so all pickled sakura dishes are only available from the end of March to May.