I have spent somewhat over a year of my life teaching English to mainly Japanese students. A few of them have told me about a special (mainly) plant-based dessert that is a part of their tea ceremony. They would send me pictures of beautiful vegan wagashi pieces, and I was truly impressed, because this is a real art in Japan.
I have been looking at these images for years on instagram, and I never tought I could make anything similar. I just made excuses that I don’t have the right tools or the right ingredients. However, I have decided to challenge myself this year, and a part of that is making several sets of these vegan wagashi.
In Japan they are often made to simbolize different seasons and times of year. So they make them in forms of different flowers, leaves, or anything they want really (the most popular one is probably the pink cherry blossom wagashi). I have made only a few shapes because I am still practicing, but if I decide to make others again soon, I will post the pictures to my instagram. So make sure you follow me on there if you like this kind of content.
A piece of advice
The only somewhat complicated thing about this recipe is shaping. But when you watch a few videos from wagashi artists, you will see that it is much more simple than it looks like.
They use special shaping tools, however, you can improvise these as I did. I used the back of a butter knife to form individual flower segments, chopsticks to make a center of a flower, and the thin chopstick end to push down holes in each orange petal. I squeezed the yellow colored wagashi dough through a sieve to get the yellow flower center.
The red bean paste is not mandatory. You can use balls of white bean paste instead. You can make your own bean paste at home, and I left a helpful recipe link down below. DO NOT use regular rice flour instead of glutinous rice flour. You will not be able to form mochi with the regular one.
For the green color I used some matcha powder and for pink I used red beet powder. But if you don’t have these, feel free to use regular (vegan) food color.
I have left a few video links that inspired me, but you can shape and color your wagashi any way you want. There are hundreds of tutorials and pictures out there. If you decide to get creative with it, I would like to see your final results.
Vegan wagashiCourse: Sweet
300 g of white bean paste*
12 g of glutinous rice flour
10 g of sugar
20 ml of water
Orange and yellow food coloring
Matcha powder for green color (optional)
Beet powder for pink color (optional)
100 g of red bean paste (or additional white paste)
- Mix together the glutinous rice flour, water and sugar. Put them in a pot and heat them on low heat while constantly mixing. Do this until a sticky mochi dough is formed and the mixture is no longer watery.
- If you are using store bought white bean paste, put it in a bowl and add the mochi that you just made. Mix everything together with a spatula until it is well combined. Knead it until you get the wagashi dough.
- If you made the white bean paste at home and it is too soft and watery, add it to the pot with the mochi dough and mix constantly on low heat until the water has evaporated and the wagashi dough is formed. Cover it with a plastic wrap or a wet cheesecloth and let it cool down.
- Meanwhile, disolve each food color in a small amount of water in separate small containers. If you do not own the wagashi shaping kit, prepare some chopsticks, a butter knife, a sieve, and some toothpicks. Roll the red bean paste into small balls, depending on how many wagashi pieces you’re making.
- When the wagashi dough has cooled down, divide it into several pieces (depending on how many you are making) and roll them into balls. Roll 2 small white dough pieces (for the pink cherry blossom flower), 2 small balls that you are going to color yellow and green. Dip a toothpick in a food color of your choice and drag it across the white piece of wagashi dough. Knead it with your hands until it is colored evenly. It is better to end up with lightly colored pieces than with heavy color, so add it gradually in small doses.
- Since the shaping process is kind of complicated and difficult to write down comprehensively, I am going to leave a few videos that inspired me and taught me how to do this:
- Wagashi shaping video 1
Wagashi shaping video 2
- Make sure to cover the pieces you are not using, so they don’t dry up. Serve the wagashi with some tea.
- *You can make your own white bean paste at home using 300g of butter beans (or lima beans) and 120 g of sugar. I will leave a recipe right – here.
If you liked this recipe, make sure you check out my other recipes like:
Feel free to tell me what you think about this in the comments below, or send me the pictures of your own vegan wagashi. If you did something differently, I would also like to hear that, I’d love to see the things you come up with.
P.S. for more recipes like this and a bunch of other stuff, follow me on Instagram, @margo_drobi.
Also, I recently started a Patreon page, where you can subscribe and help me create more/better content. In return, you will get an exclusive piece of content (recipe) each month. My plan is to increase the amount of that content if I gain a few subscribers. If you are interested and you want to find out more, I will leave the link to my Patreon right – here.