Friday, January 9, 2015

Hodogwaja (Korean Walnut Shaped Cakes)

Aren't these walnut-shaped cakes adorable?? They are called "hodogwaja (호두과자)" in Korean. My mom bought them at the local Korean grocery store and I love them! They remind me of taiyaki, those wonderful fish shaped pastries filled with adzuki paste (or cream or whatever you like). These are like bite size taiyaki. So brilliant. 

I can't tell you how well sencha or genmaicha or hojicha pairs with taiyaki (in any shape). The grassiness of the leaves is a perfect blend with the sweet adzuki and subtle pastry. At Naniwaya (the first ever taiyaki shop) in Tokyo, they serve green tea with their famous freshly made taiyaki. They don't mess with the culinary masterpiece that is taiyaki and Japanese green tea. Those flavors are perfect. 

I ran out of my favorite sencha from Ito En so I had genmaicha instead. This is gyokuro genmaicha from Teavana. According to my tea reference book, genmaicha used to be for the poor who wanted to add body to their weak tea by adding rice. Today, I think it is very popular, widely served in Japanese restaurants. It is definitely one of our favorites. 

It smells wonderful because of the roasted rice. It is nutty and vegetal in smell and taste. The rice grains soak up liquid and expand so I would not let it sit for too long. Teavana's version adds a twist by using high quality gyokuro with the roasted rice. This adds an interesting depth but one that is hardly noticeable because it is overwhelmed by the roasted rice. It also makes the tea more expensive. If you are looking to try genmaicha, I would purchase one that uses a lower quality sencha but is still good, like Ito En's genmaicha (half the cost). 

Regardless, you should pair your genmaicha with adzuki filled pastries like taiyaki or these adorable hodogwaja. Don't have a Korean store nearby? Try making it yourself by following Jen's ingenious method
My cat Boi Boi loves pastries. He never hesitates to beg (and steal) whatever I am having.
Happy sips!

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